YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) The top concern was a lack of jobs in the Valley. Then, those in attendance at a community meeting at Union Baptist Church in Youngstown tackled problems with the education system, violence and vacant properties.
On Thursday, the pews at the church were filled with community members who are concerned about the future of the Mahoning Valley. They came to hear the results of a survey distributed by the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative.
The survey, given to more than 4,000 Youngstown residents and 3,000 Warren residents, was designed to lead to future discussion on the key issues affecting residents. Those surveyed were asked about issues ranging from school privatization to mass incarceration.
MVOC previously met in Warren to get politicians and the community together in the hopes of tackling key concerns of local residents. On Thursday, it was Youngstown’s turn.
“The questionnaire is basically saying, ‘What do you want as a community member to be the next campaign or the next thing taken care of in your community?'” explained MVOC Leader Akim Lattermore.
Among issues that residents considered most important was the CEO takeover of Youngstown City Schools.
“We want to begin building power with the people that are going to be in this room and letting them know that they do have a voice, and regardless with what happens, that we can still build power and make the change that we want for our children’s future,” said Youngstown resident Tara Walker-Pollock.
The city’s water problem was also a big concern.
“The city can take a little bit better care of us, and we as community members need to take care of ourselves by coming together and holding those people accountable,” Lattermore said.
The issues brought to light by the surveys and discussions will be the focus of MVOC’s future campaigns, all with the hope of creating equal opportunity and improving the quality of life in the Valley.
“We can build power, and we have power, we just need to come together. We can get anything done in the community if we just stand together,” Lattermore said.