Education, quality of life issues and housing were the main topics of discussion at G’Town Restoration Community Development Corp.’s Meet the Candidates Night on Monday.
The forum, held at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, was a chance for community leaders and residents to hear from hopefuls seeking seats on the group’s Neighborhood Advisory Council subcommittee.
When the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) sent requests for proposals for official Neighborhood Advisory Councils last year, G’Town Restoration CDC was one of several organizations selected.
OHCD spokesman Paul Chrystie said those contracts were based on the quality of the organization, services they provide and, among other things, its service area.
However, that 12-month contract extension requires the group to have a subcommittee.
Restoration’s will consist of 13 members, each from a different section in Germantown, representing neighborhood youth, businesses, institutions and residents.
Candidates seeking subcommittee seats are Dimonique Robinson and Markeith Jordan (seeking to address youth issues); Andre Alexander and Mitchell Corinaldi (business); Andrew Lofton (institutions); and residents Kimberly Brown, Aine Doley, Michael Dowdell, Anna Figueroa, Denise Turner Foster, Timothy Jones, Lorna Kaplan, Gary Miller, Robert Perry and Raymond Woods.
The committee-facilitated Q&A
At Monday’s event, overseen by an elections committee established to ensure a fair process, candidates were asked about pressing issues in Germantown and what they would do if elected.
When asked the most pressing issue surrounding youth and education, Perry answered his question with one of his own.
“How do we encourage [youth] to perform at their highest potential in school?” he responded. “We need to give kids an incentive to do their best. … They have no idea what they’re going to face.”
Perry then offered a vignette about a television-news interview with a Germantown High School student regarding the upcoming closing.
“As I watched the student talk, his main concern was not academics. It was about survival,” he said. “That mentality has to change.”
On the issue of housing, Robinson sought better interaction among neighbors.
“When new neighbors move in, we don’t know anything about them,” she said. “It would be nice for neighbors to talk to each other and help each other out more.”
When asked what would he like to see NAC do regarding housing, Woods answered, “Provide low-interest grants for homeowners to bring housing up to date [and] help with maintaining homes.”
When asked about Germantown’s quality of life, Alexander honed in on local-business offerings.
“We don’t need 20 hair salons and eight daycares,” he said. “We need to see more diversity. We need a laundromat, computer lab, small grocery store and businesses that will bring more finances to the community.”
Echoing that sentiment was Lofton.
“There is a need for businesses that aren’t just dollar stores and value stores,” he said. “We need to make sure our corridors are clean. Businesses won’t come if it’s dirty.”
The elections committee also asked what each candidate would offer to the committee. Corinaldi, who owns the vegan restaurant Nile, which has been in Germantown for 18 years, said health education.
“I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go. I can’t shop in Germantown for health products and that needs to change,” he said.
Questions from the crowd
After the elections committee’s questions, the floor opened to the audience.
Pamela Pierce, a block captain and committeeperson, said, “It doesn’t matter what we put in. It’s still perceived as not a pleasant place. We need to address our quality of life.”
Other topics included gentrification, safety and community building.
If elected, subcommittee members would serve two-year terms, advising and overseeing NAC activities.
Final voting will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 2 at G’Town Restoration’s CDC/NAC offices, 5539 Germantown Ave. Anyone who lives or has a business within the NAC’s boundaries can vote.
Ballots must then be certified by OHCD’s Neighborhood Program Coordination Unit.