County and local officials come together for an annual town hall meeting

Photo Credit: Lissa Jules

The sixth annual Leon County and City of Tallahassee Town Hall meeting took place at the St. John’s Episcopal Church on Thursday, held by the nonprofit organization, The Village Square.

Topics ranging from crime, affordable housing and community building initiatives were asked through an open forum where residents had the opportunity to address these concerns and stay updated on strategic plans.

As the crime rates in Tallahassee decline residents remain concerned on how law enforcement will continue to keep the streets safe.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, commended law enforcement for their services, but expressed the importance of the community’s involvement on tackling crime.

“There needs to be neighborhood crime watch initiatives. I personally worked with the Wilson Green neighborhood and my own neighbor to establish these initiatives,” said Commissioner Richardson. “It is imperative that as neighborhoods, we begin to take back our neighborhoods, look out for each other and let the criminals know that we will not accept their kind of behavior.”

Tallahassee residents were eager to know how the city is addressing homelessness and affordable housing. Both local and county commissioners recognized the issues of affordable housing and recently held joint workshops and formed work groups to study and implement possible solutions. Projects aiming for mix use development, is the direction city commissioners are pushing towards.

The need for Tallahassee to have different people, from different backgrounds, from different colors, living side by side was mentioned by Tallahassee City Commissioner, Gil Ziffer.

“If we do not have people from all sorts of diverse backgrounds living side by side, then what we have is voluntary segregation, which is a real problem,” said Commissioner Ziffer. “It’s a big problem. We need to really consider how we should be moving forward with low income housing so it is not just this color or that color, or this section or that section, it is an opportunity for all people to potentially live next to each other.”

Whether the federal government decides to assist in affordable housing issues, local officials understand that it is crucial to look at it from a local level in spite of anything.

Tallahassee residents acknowledged their appreciation for county and city officials coming together for this town hall meeting. However, other residents such as 26-year-old Jermaine Miller, said that these meetings should be done more often and include state officials.

“The town hall meeting was extremely informative because the officials that we put into office are taking the time to address our concerns,” said Miller. “It's our right to know how they plan on improving public transportation and mental health in public schools, in addition to their plans on redeveloping communities like Frenchtown.”

Miller continues, “the same exact way we elected these city and county officials, is the same way we elected these state officials. So it is only right that at least four or five state officials can participate in a town hall meeting similar to this one, but throughout a course of a year.”

Tallahassee residents will have another opportunity to engage with local leaders on Thursday, February 23 at the event, Speed Date Your Local Leaders, starting at 5:30 p.m. Pizza will be served inviting people to have a conversation with the ones responsible of leading their community.