Organizer hopes to answer question at Jan. 5 forum
BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Daytona Beach residents are being encouraged to attend the “Focus 2015” forum to be held at Hope Fellowship Church on Jan. 5. The forum seeks to answer the question: “Where are our leaders taking us in 2015?”
Invited guests include U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, State Rep. Dwayne Taylor, Volusia County Councilwoman Joyce Cusack and Councilman Joshua Wagner, Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry, Daytona Beach Commissioner Patrick Henry, Volusia School Board Member Ida Wright, Volusia Sheriff Ben Johnson and Daytona Beach Police Department Chief Mike Chitwood.
“We want to give elected officials an opportunity to engage the public and the public an opportunity to engage our elected officials,” Bishop Derek Triplett, pastor of Hope Fellowship Church told the Daytona Times. “I have this crazy dream that urban Daytona can be very civically engaged and we want to start the steps to doing that.”
Triplett hopes the forum will give the community an opportunity to talk with and hear from their elected officials and build or strengthen existing relationships.
“We can have joint expectations,” he explained. “We will know what to expect from them and we will know what their needs are and how we can help with that. It is a relationship. It has to have agreed upon expectations.”
“I don’t want us to expect one thing and they are working on something else and then there is a lack of participation on either side. Also from the perspective of the church, we want to know what to pray for.”
Commissioner Henry shares the same sentiments, “We are a team. Part of my job as commissioner is to know our community, understand the needs of our community and then fight for what is needed to effect change,” he told the Times.
“We have a $3.1 million dollar center (the Yvonne-Scarlett Cultural and Educational Center on Vine Street) right in our backyard because our citizens said we deserve to have somewhere safe, available and modernized for our children and our seniors. The commission worked to make that a reality.”
“There are exhibits, classes, programs, meetings and sports activities everyone should know about just at that one location,” he continued. “Not to mention the countless others the city puts on.”
“I’m looking forward to this forum because what I have found, and I’m speaking for myself, but what I’ve found is a communication breakdown,” Henry continued. “There are so many great things happening in Daytona Beach, but the message just isn’t being delivered to enough people. One of my primary goals of the forum is to found out how we can fix that communication lapse.”
Reason for forum
At the end of the year, Triplett would like to invite the panelists back to the church for a follow-up forum on plans made and promises kept in an effort to assess how well they did.
“We named it ‘Focus 2015’ because in 2015 everyone ought to be trying to achieve something,” Triplett explained.
“We do a lot of managing the past instead of leading to the future. We just end up marketing yesterday and managing today instead of leading people to tomorrow and moving forward.”
Triplett has additional events planned for the new year, including a “Youth Speak” event for teens and young adults as well as a “Black Economic Empowerment” event in February.
“We won’t have meeting after meeting but want to encourage urban Daytona on how to participate and how to hold themselves accountable,” he said, adding that people are so busy trying to survive but have to also try to be informed.
The “Focus 2015’’ forum will be held at Hope Fellowship Church, 869 Derbyshire Road, on Jan. 5. A Black Economic Forum will be held Feb. 18 and the “Youth Speak’’ forum is Feb. 25. Each event begins at 7 p.m.
Next Week: Read about the outcome of the forum as well as a sit-down with Mayor Derrick Henry on his first two years in office.