Natalia Duncan Macker holds office hours every week when community members can come to meet with her in person and ask questions about county policies or express their opinions about county decisions.
Although the COVID-19 crisis has necessitated an end to in-person sessions, Macker did not want to discard the tradition entirely.
Instead, she and Vice Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson have begun hosting a series of virtual town meetings, with the next ones scheduled for 5 p.m. on April 7 with the Community Foundation, 1 p.m. on April 13 with Betsy Carlin, school board trustee and early education expert, and 5 p.m. on April 21 with the Chamber of Commerce. Details on how to register for the meetings will be available closer to the date at MackerForWyo.com.
Macker says that, along with the duty of the county government to keep constituents safe and secure through good decision making, they should also help facilitate community building during these anxious times.
“Our ability to bounce back from this as a community and a society hinges to some degree on our ability to stay connected with each other on that human empathic level,” Macker said. She stressed the importance of “taking a moment to have small connections with people that are going through the same thing but are out of our sphere, since we’ve had to turn kind of insular.”
In the first of these virtual meetings on Monday, Macker and Morton Levinson fielded many questions about the economic report that was discussed at the county meeting earlier in the day. They also heard from Dee Buckstaff, who brought up the subject of blood drives during the crisis, and Susan Durfee, who briefed attendees on Wyoming Central College’s plans for offering educational programming remotely.
Macker recognizes that, especially because there is no clear information about how long the crisis might last or what the exact economic implications will be, some people will have strong reactions to any decision made by the board of commissioners.
“We’re going to have the full gambit of responses to any decision we make,” she said.
The meetings are meant as a way to let those reactions rise to the surface and start conversations.
“This crisis has people covering the human spectrum of emotion on a day-to-day basis and that includes myself,” said Macker.