Safety takes top priority at Abbotsford ‘Candidates Night’

In the wake of last week’s fatal shooting at Abbotsford Homes near East Falls, nearly two dozen residents came together on Wednesday to hear from four people who want to lead the housing complex in a better direction. 

Those four people are Greg Brinkley, Audrey Hood, Marvina Furlow and Vivian Hughes, and they’re all vying for a chance to be president of the Abbotsford Resident Association.  The group pitched their platforms to residents at the Abbotsford Community Center for “Candidates Night” in preparation for Monday’s official election. 

Each candidate was given five minutes to speak, and residents were then given time to question the candidates in an open forum. The event was moderated by representatives from the League of Women Voters.

The candidates’ top concerns included reopening the community center for residential use, reinstituting programs and activities for young residents and addressing the increasing occurrence of violent crimes in the neighborhood.

Candidates make their pitches 

Last week, Christopher Curry of Germantown was fatally shot multiple times on the 3200 block of Defense Terrace, and several other shootings have occurred in the neighborhood in recent years.

“If you’re gonna have a dispute, it should not be with guns,” said Brinkley. A 40-year resident of Abbottsford, Brinkley told his fellow residents that, if elected, addressing the “sporadic violence” and “no snitching culture” would be his top priority. “We need people to know that it’s not okay to solve disputes with guns.”

Hood said that whoever was elected would have to take strides to reduce violent crime in the area.

“We had a shooting last week, we had a shooting a couple months ago, we had a shooting a year ago—it didn’t used to be like that,” Hood said. She added that as president of the resident association, she would attempt to bring back a sense of community to the housing complex.

“We were a big family here—now people don’t even want to let their kids out,” Hood said. “Our meetings used to be really crowded. We need to get the togetherness back that we had up here.”

Both Brinkley and Hood said that, if elected, they would attempt to form a relationship with local police and would not tolerate violent crime. 

Candidates Furlow and Hughes both centered their pitches for presidency around bringing back programs and events for children and the elderly. Furlow mentioned that classes and activities used to be offered to children, but that the lack of an organized resident association, and the closure of the community center caused these programs to end. She said that she hoped to reopen the community center for such programs if she became president.

Hughes echoed Furlow’s sentiments, and urged the community to act as a “squeaky wheel,” no matter what candidate won the presidency. “I hear you all squeaking outside, but I don’t hear you squeaking in here,” Hughes said. “We’re gonna have to rattle some cages.”

A fifth candidate, Catrina Rogers, did not attend the event.

Reaction from residents

Residents in attendance said they could relate to the voiced concerns of the candidates.

“Well, the top priority is to get the community together,” Ravonna Bey, a longtime resident of Abbottsford, said. “Get them organized and out of harm’s way.”

Eva Timms, a 31-year resident of the community, said that she hoped that whoever was elected president would attempt to reinstate programs for the elderly and children.

“With the kids, they need to make sure they have the right facilities,” Timms said. “For the elderly, they should make sure they have help getting places.”

Voting will be held on Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Abbottsford community room at 3226 McMichael St. Residents of the housing complex are eligible to vote but must present valid ID.

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