Testimony Tips & Protocols
The public has multiple opportunities to provide testimony or comments before the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners. The following protocols and suggestions are provided to enhance your effectiveness with public testimony and comments before the Washington County Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners. You may also download the protocols and tips as a PDF document.
How to Submit Public Testimony
E-mail testimony is not accepted. Official communications on ordinances must be received in writing or through oral or written testimony at hearings. Testimony can be provided via fax or sent to:
Fax: 503 846-4412
The Planning Commission (PC) and Board of County Commissioners (Board) welcome public attendance and participation at their hearings. Anyone wishing to speak on an agenda item at a regular hearing should feel free to do so. In doing so, the PC and the Board ask that you observe the following guidelines:
1. Please follow sign-in procedures located on the table by the entrance to the auditorium.
2. When your name is announced, please be seated at the table in front and state your name and home address for the record.
3. Groups or organizations wishing to make a presentation are asked to designate one spokesperson in the interest of time and to avoid repetition.
4. When more than one citizen is speaking on any matter, please avoid repetition in your comments. Careful attention to the previous speaker's remarks will be helpful in this regard.
Time Limits for Oral Testimony
Public testimony for ordinances may be presented within the following time limits:
1. First and second hearing - three minutes for individuals and 12 minutes for groups
2. Additional hearings - two minutes for individuals and five minutes for groups
1. Arrive Early - If you do not wish to wait until the end of the hearing, be sure to sign up to testify at least a half hour before the hearing begins.
2. Prepare written support or testimony for public record - This is a good way to provide more information than you might be able to share within the time limits. Have copies available: 12 for Planning Commissioners and staff, seven for Board of County Commissioners and staff.
3. Identify yourself - Provide your name and address. If you are the spokesperson for a group or part of a group providing testimony, identify the group or organization, describe the group's mission and note how many members it has.
4. Clearly state your position - Give a clear and concise description of your position on the issue.
5. Speak from your own experience - Try not to repeat what has already been said; instead, build upon it. Your experience is unique and that is important. State whether you agree or disagree, then provide additional relevant information.
6. Stick to the facts - Be as specific as you can. Clearly identify the key points of the process to which you are referring and how you would like to see those points supported or changed.
7. Address issues, not people - Focus your comments on the process and the ideas you support or wish to see changed.
8. Don't read your entire testimony - The commissioners will read and consider your testimony. Use this opportunity to personally highlight your most unique and relevant points.
9. Present two to three key points - There is a time limit and it is important not to run out of time before you have made the key points you want to leave with the commissioners. If you have more to say, provide it in the written testimony. If you are with a group, prepare to have others in the group continue with your key points.
10. Request action - State exactly what you would like the commissioners to do as a result of your testimony.
11. Offer solutions - Whether stating a specific or general approach to an issue, creative solutions or feasible alternatives are always well received.