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Jo Shumake: In defense of Councilman Mickens




In the "Roses and Thorns" column of the Aug. 18 Dispatch, Councilman Joseph Mickens was taken to task for missing the Aug. 15 public hearing on the proposed closing of six city railroad crossings and for being "not particularly concerned with his constituents' views on matters that affect the city." 


I would like to offer a different perspective. 


As Mayor Smith noted at the public hearing, Councilman Mickens was unable to attend because he was out of town. However, prior to that meeting, he joined Councilman Gene Taylor at an Aug. 12 Ward One meeting and invited constituents of Ward Two to attend since the proposed closings also impacted those in his Ward. While there, he was able to hear residents from both Wards discuss the issue during and after the meeting. Obviously, attendance at both gatherings would have been preferable, but Councilman Mickens deserves credit for reaching out at the earlier meeting since he wasn't able to be at the second one. 


As a resident of Ward Two, I have met with Councilman Mickens numerous times since his election in 2009. Although we don't always agree on issues, we have very useful conversations and I have always felt that he both listens to and respects my views. Reaching out works both ways, and we all need to do that to improve our city. 


Jo Shumake 






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