Although they made it a goal of their January retreat, Leesburg Town Council members have shelved plans to create a formal council code of performance.
It was but a month ago that council members solidified their post-retreat action plan, and the idea of creating a code of performance commanded the most attention, and controversy. Those in favor of its creation said there needed to be a stated list of acceptable, and unacceptable, behaviors for Town Council members, particularly in the area of discourse with each other. Those against said it was an attempt to legislate behavior and stifle g opinions that others didn’t agree with.
During the council’s Monday night work session, it appeared those originally in favor of the code of performance had cooled to the idea. Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox said she believed the council’s current Code of Ethics, adopted in 2009, was sufficient to address any council member infractions. This Code of Ethics includes guidelines on closed sessions, council members conducting business meetings, and more.
Regulating “decorum or conduct [in a code of performance] I feel like is dangerously subjective,” she said. “It doesn’t really have any teeth to me.”
“So many other localities do have a code of conduct,” Mayor Kelly Burk pointed out, “but I wouldn’t be interested in the enforcement aspect of it. I saw it as an aspirational document that could remind us of what we should be doing.”
Councilman Marty Martinez, who in the past has criticized some of the council’s dialogue as lacking in civility, said he believed the council may already be moving in the right direction, even without a formal code of performance.
“I think lately we’ve been progressing and hopefully will continue to do so,” he said.