Lafayette County Democrats scheduled listening sessions with the public

Published 2:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2017

For those living in Oxford and Lafayette County who may feel they don’t have a voice, or that no one listens to their concerns, the Lafayette County Democrats are providing a way to have their voice heard.

The organization will host several listening sessions for citizens to voice concerns and priorities.

Input from all sessions will be collated, available to the public, and shared with candidates and elected officials.

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Chair Cristen Hemmins said the idea to hold the public listening sessions came about in recent months.

“We wanted to provide a platform for people to voice what they believe are important issues in their community,” she said.

The Democratic Party generally holds their meetings monthly at the Lafayette County Courthouse.

“We wanted to take our meetings out into other areas of Oxford and Lafayette County where we don’t normally have meetings and engage those people who want their concerns heard,” she said.

There will be five listening sessions, with the first one being held 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Lafayette and Oxford Public Library, where political science associate professor Marvin King will be the facilitator.

“We tried to schedule one in each county district,” Hemmins said.

Other listening sessions are scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday at the College Hill Community Center, with Dianne Fergusson as facilitator; 6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Gordon Community and Cultural Center in Abbeville, with Ruby Kelley as facilitator; 10 a.m. To noon, Feb. 4 at the Lafayette Civic Center, with Donald Cole as facilitator; and 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Taylor Community Center, with Martha Shaw as facilitator.

Hemmins said while the local Democratic Party is hosting the listening sessions, everyone in the community is welcome to attend the meeting.

“We are gearing this toward local issues for our elected officials and candidates in the upcoming municipal elections to see what people want, what they’re concerns are, what they want to see happen,” she said. “But I’m sure national or state issues will come up, but these sessions will be more about local issues. We’re just there to listen and record what’s said.”

The information will be sent to local leaders and will be available for the public to view on the Lafayette County Democrats’ website,

Some of the questions the facilitators may ask could include: What is your biggest concern and what do you see as a solution? What is needed to get you and your friends involved in the solution paths? What resources are likely needed and who do you see as leaders to reach solutions to the identified issues?

Childcare and cookies will also be provided during the sessions.