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Community Engagement means so much more to me after watching the successes from around our area where organizations have taken their message to the street. That is what I intend to do as a candidate and, if elected, as a councilman. So what is Community Engagement? And how will I implement it? These were my wife’s first questions, too.  Many of us scarcely have time, between our families, our jobs, our church, school functions, sports, and the list goes on, to sit around and watch channel 48 for city updates.  So how do you know what is happening in the city before it is voted on? For that matter, how do you even know who you are voting for and where their values and beliefs lie? The information is sometimes hard to obtain, and by the time you obtain it, it is too late. City officials are currently voting on issues that will change our way of life forever. Many of the decisions being made do not line up with our community’s conservative family values, and are not for the betterment of our city, but for the betterment of the city council…and it is being slipped in right under our noses. I want to change this. I want a more transparent city, with approachable leaders, who truly want to hear your concerns and issues.
 Currently, the way to obtain information is by either attending Town Hall Meetings, of which there are only three per year, or at city council meetings, where, let’s face it, the council members have already made up their minds and decided their votes long before the meeting even begins.  The old and apathetic approach of a city council meeting makes me uncomfortable as a citizen.  There are nine intimidating people looking down at you from a desk, where you are standing at a podium, emotional and nervous, with bright lights, on camera, and only five minutes to get what is near and dear to your heart articulated, in a desperate attempt to sway votes.  This high-pressure situation is not how it should be and is unproductive. This is where Community Engagement comes in. As firefighters, we joke that many of the world's problems have been solved around our firehouse kitchen table over a cup of coffee. It's that kind of relaxed atmosphere that I would like to create between myself and the people I serve. Focusing on the community just seems to come naturally to me. It is my calling. I am a public servant. I want to meet the people of the community in their communities. I want to know the issues going on in Indian River, South Norfolk, Greenbrier, Western Branch, Deep Creek, Grassfield, Hickory, and Great Bridge. I can’t be everywhere at once, and am humble enough to admit that I am not an expert. How can I be, if I don’t live in the area effected, my children don’t go to the schools, my job is not being impacted? This is why I need you, as much as you need a conscientious representative. Sitting down over a cup of coffee, will be an opportunity for you to educate me, and for me to listen.  I want to hear the thoughts and ideas about the issues from the people who actually live in the area that is being impacted. I want you to know that I am approachable, and I am open to communication. I want to get to know you, and I want you to get to know me.
So, it is my intention to have multiple meetings throughout the city, at local venues, throughout the year. The old way of doing things is not working anymore. It is broken and can lead to corruption. I want to try a new, fresh, and honest approach. I have seen this concept work, and I feel that it is imperative in order to create trust between the community and their representatives.

Authorized by Levin Turner for Council
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