07/25/07 — Candidate wants to make city better place to live

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Candidate wants to make city better place to live

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 25, 2007 1:45 PM

Frankie Lewis recently joined community leaders in denouncing violence at a recent "Stop the Funeral" rally and took the microphone at a city-sponsored neighborhood meeting held near her home last month.

But the 56-year-old said there is more to being a "good citizen" than simply showing up at public events -- so she put her name on the ballot for the District 1 election for the City Council.

"I'm excited about it. I want to be a good citizen where I live. I think that good citizenship requires and obligates us to be involved," Mrs. Lewis said.

She said that if elected, her priorities would include finding a solution to crime and gang activity in the city, continuing efforts to preserve and restore the historic neighborhoods downtown and reaching out to struggling families.

After all, a safe, vibrant community in which to live is "every citizen's right," she said.

"All people want the same things -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When you satisfy the citizens, that is what keeps the city running. We could all chose to move. We do not have to live here. And so we have to make where we live better," she said.

Pretending problems do not exist is not a viable solution to them, Mrs. Lewis added.

"What is most important is parental involvement, community involvement. I come from an era where there was not a lot of money just thrown at problems. People put themselves into the midst of the problem and made them better."

She said that if she is elected she will work to urge residents to hold one another accountable -- and take action -- when drugs and violence appear on city streets.

"There was a time when if you saw something going on at your street corner, you spoke to that immediately," Mrs. Lewis said. "If each of us takes authority over those things we can control, it spreads. Each of us has a responsibility to say, 'No. Those things are not going to happen here.' We have to believe that there is always something we can do. When we see the little things happening and do nothing, we wake up one morning to this huge problem."

And when concerns are raised in communities surrounding downtown, residents and visitors are less likely to invest in the area, she added -- a sentiment that could lead to a loss of revenue at the soon-to-be-reconstructed Paramount Theater and Community Building.

"We need to be a downtown that draws people, we need that vibrancy," Mrs. Lewis said. "We need to continue our projects because once a downtown dies, everything around it dies."

But at the same time, she will promote even more progress.

"I believe in tradition being tempered with progress. There is a place for both. I believe in historic preservation but we also need to be progressive. While we preserve our heritage, let us not stymie those future generations from bringing their creativity, their ideas to the table," she said.