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Listening session fills library

The first in a series of five Listening Sessions being held by the local Lafayette County Dems had about 60 people in attendance at the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library Monday night.

“Our goal, regardless of political party, is to listen to your concerns,” said Johnny Lott, who sits on the Lafayette County Democratic Executive Committee.

Political science associate Professor Marvin King facilitated the meeting that started off with people expressing what issues were most important to them, locally, statewide or nationally.

Locally, people said they were concerned about affordable housing, candidate recruitment for local government, increasing voter registration, funding for Oxford and Lafayette Schools and a growing homeless population.

National and state issues included mental and physical health care, civil rights, Social Security and Medicaid protection, the state flag, the immigration policies being proposed, economic development and protecting the arts, in particular, the Mississippi Arts Commission, since a bill was introduced that would disband MAC and roll its duties under that Mississippi Development Authority.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing how the local Democratic organization could better reach out to democrats living in Oxford and Lafayette, keeping them informed of upcoming bills and events.

At the end of the hour-long discussion, those attending were asked to place colored dots next to the issues that mattered to them most of all, with a red dot for the top issue, a blue one for the second most important and a green for third.

Public education and improving the structure of the Democratic party had the most red dots.

Other listening sessions are scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m., tonight 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 the facilitator.

While Monday’s session focused more on state and national topics, Chair Cristen Hemmins said the meetings are open to anyone, not just democrats, and the focus is to hear from the community about their concerns locally, so that information can be compiled into a document that will be shared with local government officials and the general public on the Lafayette County Dems’ website,  www.lafayettedems.org.