Thursday, February 7, 2013
Chattanooga District 6 Councilwoman Carol Berz wants to know what her constituents think and wants to help people throughout the city learn how to get engaged with their communities.
Instead of spending this part of the year campaigning, the unopposed incumbent is hosting a series of town hall public meetings to find out what’s important to residents of her district and help them find ways to get connected with herself and other organizations throughout the city.
“We’re listening to find out where we can do things better and we can do things differently,” said Berz. “We’re on target for the next four years to continue what I’ve been doing and include more people. One of the things we really want to work on is more connectivity with neighborhoods. People are hungry for that and need ways to do it better.”
At the first town hall meeting held at the Tyner-East Brainerd Community Center, representatives from Tyner Crossing Drive commented about a newly formed Neighborhood Watch program in the Timberbrook subdivision. Due to what they said were eight break-ins in a six-week period, the Timberbrook neighborhood formed an online community to alert each other if a suspicious or unfamiliar person was in the neighborhood.
“As you get to know one another for possibly negative reasons, the good news is you get to know each other,” said Berz. “I’m really proud of what these ladies [in the Timberbrook subdivision] did.”
She said she hopes to help people learn more about connecting with the city of Chattanooga Department of Neighborhood Services and the monthly Chattanooga Police Interaction Committee where residents can talk to local police.
“If you want action, it’s good to meet the police,” said Berz. “You [the Timberbrook representatives] got a lot of attention because you cared enough to come forward [at a Police Interaction meeting].”
The councilwoman said there are many assets across the city that people can use to build community and address problems in their neighborhood but residents don’t always know how to organize themselves to take action. She said she hopes her district builds a model for others on how to work together and how to work with other districts.
“We shouldn’t be so divided,” she said.
Over the next four years, Berz said she hopes to see the Eastgate Library and the park near the airport completed.
Even though she is unopposed, she said she hopes people will go and vote in the city’s March election.
“The voting turnout in Chattanooga is abysmal,” she said. “You have absolutely got to vote. I need to be able to speak for the people … and I can’t do that unless you give me that power.”
For more information about Berz or the meetings, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 894-4260.