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Stevensville residents protest over remote council meetings

Stevensville residents protest over remote council meetings
Posted at 10:06 AM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 12:06:18-04

The political discord in Stevensville takes a new turn, as residents take to the streets to complain about the town's use of remote council meetings.

Protesters gathered outside the Stevensville Town Hall Thursday evening as a few dozen residents showed up to protest the recent decision to return to a remote council meeting format.

The council had been meeting remotely last spring, resuming in-person meetings earlier this summer. But then in July as coronavirus cases increased in the Bitterroot Valley, Mayor Brandon Dewey decided the council would return to Zoom meetings.

But the demonstrators say Dewey, who is the target of a recall campaign, is just trying to keep the public at bay.

“The issue here is communication, something that everybody is familiar with, but when it doesn't happen, the public doesn't have a chance to be heard," Stevensville protester Jim Kalkofen said. "The mayor intends and wants to continue doing zoom meetings instead of in person. Meetings like has been done in Ravalli County and many other communities in Montana.”

Dewey has already told the council the remote meetings aren't illegal in any way, and the town is using that format out of consideration for staff and public who might not feel comfortable attending in person because of the coronavirus.