Councilwomen plan ward meetings

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

FRANKLIN—The city’s three councilwomen are sponsoring a series of ward meetings to hear concerns from residents and foster more understanding between constituents and the city council.

Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson and Councilwomen Rosa Lawrence and Mary Hilliard will meet and answer questions at 5 p.m. each Thursday in April at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Oak Street.

“We’re trying to make sure that citizens get the right information,” Lawrence said, adding that some “false” information has been floating around the community.

For the first meeting this Thursday, Michael Stoneham, director of Franklin Power & Light, will take questions.

“Some questions had come up in the community about the electric rate increase, and we wanted to educate the public on where we’re going with that, reasons for it and just bring the government to the people,” Hilliard said.

On April 15, City Manager June Fleming and interim Finance Director Amber Stansbury will be available. Police Chief Phil Hardison will be on hand on April 22 and Russ Pace, director of public works, will be available at the April 29 meeting.

City department heads will address residents’ concerns from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The meetings aren’t a new concept, according to Hilliard. She said similar forums were held a few years ago.

“We were accustomed to having forums just before budget time,” she said. “But here lately the last couple of years it didn’t happen.”

Hilliard said having city officials on hand will give residents a chance to hear information “firsthand.”

“We just want to educate them the best that we can about the recent changes,” she said, adding that the meetings are not political in nature. Both Hilliard and Lawrence are running for reelection in the May 4 city council race. Hilliard is unopposed in Ward 5. Greg McLemore is challenging Lawrence in Ward 3.

“It’s not about the elections,” Hilliard said. “It’s just getting the information out to the citizens.”

Lawrence encouraged residents to attend the meetings.

“This will be their time if they have any concerns or any questions to gather them up and see us Thursday night,” she said.