11/04/07 — Headen, Lewis battle for open seat on City Council

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Headen, Lewis battle for open seat on City Council

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on November 4, 2007 2:14 AM

Citizens of District 1 will have a brand new council member Tuesday night.

Frankie Anna Lewis and Michael Headen both say they are running to improve their city, and they have very similar ideas on how to accomplish that goal.

The two are seeking to fill the seat of Jimmy Bryan, who decided not to run for re-election this fall.

Mrs. Lewis said her top concern for the city's first district is public safety.

"Cer-tainly we do have an issue of crime activity," she said.

There are two steps necessary to take bite out of the city's crime problem, Mrs. Lewis said.

"I believe we need to encourage law enforcement to work with the community," she said. "We in District 1 need a visible police presence. I would even like to see a police substation in our district. It is large enough for that."

Responsibility starts at home, though, she added.

"Residents have to take responsibility to make their community what they want it to be. The individual has to take control over what the individual owns. I am a property owner, and I take control over my property and the area around my property. I, as a resident, have a right to speak to that at my property. I think each resident has to have that type of mindset."

If they did, the community would be a better place, Mrs. Lewis said.

"If every household did that, you would nip crime in the bud. They need to know and control what goes on in front of their house, on their block, on their street," she said.

Headen agrees that crime is a big issue in the district, and he is most worried about the area's elderly residents.

"We have a lot of older people in District 1," he said. "I want more safety for them. I want them to be able to walk down the street or mingle without fear of gunshots or someone saying inappropriate things to them."

Much of the crime stems from gang activity, Headen said, and to deter that, a message has to be sent to present and potential gang members.

"We need to let our young people know that they have choices and alternatives other than gangs," he said.

To accomplish that, Headen said he thinks young people need to be engaged somewhere else. He said he believes the new community building will play a big part in keeping young people busy and out of trouble.

"I am proud of the new community building being built," he said. "It was a big thing in the community, and I hope it returns to be that way."

Headen said he sees police patrols on the rise, which also aides in bettering the community.

"The police presence that I've seen has been awesome. Chief (Tim) Bell has done a great job," he said.

Headen added that even though there is more work to do, the district is much safer than it once was.

"We have made it safer than years past," he said. "We are making it a more family- oriented district, and that helps. We are without a doubt, from my personal opinion, better off than we ever were."

Both candidates believe that revitalization and growth are vital to helping the district become a better place to live.

And for Headen, that means restoration of historical homes and revitalization of the downtown area.

"We have a number of historical houses in District 1," Headen said. "I want them all to be safe and preserved. We need to make these houses attractive to young families, and bring those families into the district and into Goldsboro."

Revitalizing downtown means the possibility of more businesses, and in turn, more for people in District 1 to do.

"We are in the hub of downtown. Downtown revitalization opens a lot of doors for us and for all citizens," Headen said.

Mrs. Lewis thinks along the same lines.

"I think we need economic revitalization to improve our district and our city," she said. "It's obvious that there were thriving businesses in District 1 at one time. We have the space, time and what is required to bring those businesses back."

She also believes a big part of the city depends on public services, but District 1 doesn't have the full gamut.

"One of the things we lack in District 1 is public transportation," she said. "What if I had a flat tire, and I had to go to the courthouse. There is no bus that I can jump on to take me there. We need public services expanded."

In the end, Mrs. Lewis believes that District 1 and the city have the same concerns.

"We have to look at the livelihoods of lives that live here," she said. "Things that are better for the community are better for me."

She said she believes she would make a great councilwoman because she listens and stands by what she thinks is right.

"The things I say come from my heart," she said. "I am people-focused. Anytime we forget the people, we won't make headway."

She said she is up to the task of serving her district and the city.

"I will be held accountable. I will communicate, and I will listen. I will speak to the citizens' problems. I will bring back the willingness to make a difference, the heart to make a difference and the experience to make a difference," she said.

Headen said he understands both he and Mrs. Lewis are good candidates.

"I don't know if Mrs. Lewis and I are that drastically different," he said.

As a resident of the district for 15 years, he said he has been through the good and the bad with its citizens.

"This is the good," he said. "I feel that I've been there and seen growth and change. But I've listened. I take what the people say and take action. I believe in trust and voicing concerns."

Headen calls Goldsboro home because it has been very good to him, he said, and he feels that he has the skills to be a positive force on Goldsboro City Council.

"I think the citizens of District 1 would like to be assured that they will have equal access to decisions that are being made in the city," he said. "They don't want to be left out and don't want to be forgotten. I want to make sure that they are being taken care of."