ANDERSON — About 30 community organization representatives, office holders and concerned citizens met at the Impact Center on Thursday night to discuss community solutions and other issues.
It was the first of what Unity Leadership Coalition president Kim Townsend hopes to be many productive town hall style meetings. But Townsend said she doesn’t just want to talk. She wants the meetings to yield solutions.
“I envision this group to be helpful in many ways, including helping to educate people politically,” Townsend said. “We need good candidates who will address the needs of the community, not just the needs of their party.”
The coalition is an amalgamation of several groups, mostly minority-led and minority-serving groups like the Urban League, the Black Chamber of Commerce and the Black Expo. Representatives of many of the groups were in attendance at the meeting, as were politicians like Anderson City Councilman Ty Bibbs and Madison County Council President John Bostic, Madison Circuit Court Judge David Happe, Anderson Fire Department Chief Phil Rogers and Anderson Community Schools board member Stephanie Moran.
“We’ve been meeting for a while. We realized we could do a lot more with these groups if we joined together and looked at things as a group,” Townsend said.
The group discussed several topics like problems with youth in the community, court system concerns and development of the west side of the city.
The group seemed to come back to one conclusion on almost every topic: education for young children needs to be the focus. One woman talked about how behavior problems she sees in children now can transform into criminal trouble for adults in the future, and a better support system should be part of local schools.
“I don’t necessarily deal with juveniles in my court, but the young adults I do see, generally a lot of them share the trait that they haven’t valued education,” Happe said.
Also discussed was the disparity in sentencing between black convicts and their white counterparts. Happe said the disparity can’t be denied, and he would work with colleagues in the court systems to make special problem-solving courts like drug court more available to minorities.
The group agreed that the topic of the next meeting will center around youth and education. Townsend said the next meeting will be Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., with the location to be determined.
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Unity Leadership Coalition The coalition's next meeting is scheduled 6 p.m. Nov. 7. The location to be announced.