NOTE: The Gazette reporter Conrad Swanson is attending the town hall. For live updates, mobile users can scroll to the bottom of the article, and desktop users can follow his tweets on the right.
It can be difficult for many people to break away from work, school or other obligations to attend Colorado Springs City Council meetings on Tuesday afternoons.
To give them a chance to voice their opinions or get answers to concerns, two of the city's three at-large council members, Bill Murray and Tom Strand, will hold a town hall meeting Thursday evening.
Murray said the idea started about two years ago after he heard many residents weren't able to attend council meetings "and it kind of morphed into the Tom and Bill show."
Since then the pair has hosted about six of these "open mic" style meetings, Strand said.
The town hall meeting is a more effective way to communicate with constituents because it allows for a back and forth, Murray said.
"What we do at the town hall is a conversation, what we do at City Hall during a City Council meeting is a lecture," he said. "I'll stand there and answer questions, Tom will answer and people can have follow up questions."
The pair say they expect a wide variety of topics to be addressed during the town hall. Questions might range from proposed stormwater fees, recently-approved special districts for southwest downtown, recreational marijuana, urban hunting and the eventual closure of the Martin Drake Power Plant, to name a few.
"We'll discuss just about anything," Murray said. "There hasn't been a discussion we've stopped so far. A lot of these issues are pretty complex. ... People have a right to know."
"You can get up there and speak your mind," he added. "'Hey do you realize ...?' or 'Have you seen ...?' And we'll respond to it."
In the past crowd size has ranged from several dozen to single digits, Strand said.
Often, other City Council members will hold similar town hall meetings in their own districts, but since Strand and Murray are both at-large council members, they feel that hosting the meeting at City Hall is most appropriate, Strand said.
The town hall meeting will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave.