PANELISTS for the evening were, l-r, Lucinda Brown, Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor, Cairo City Councilman Demario Byrden and Camilla Mayor Rufus Davis. Organizers did not invite all members of the Cairo city council or city manager to participate in Tuesday night’s event.
Organizing for Grady County, a grass roots group of locals with a stated goal of educating the community about the political process, held a forum Tuesday evening that attracted about 40 interested citizens.
Featured speakers included Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor, Cairo City Councilman Demario Byrden, Camilla Mayor Rufus Davis and Thomas County NAACP president and Thomasville community activist Lucinda Brown.
Organizer Erica Hunter said her vision of Organizing for Grady County is to “be the glue” for the community by organizing forums with expert panelists on hand to provide information.
Hunter posed the first question to Tuesday night’s panel, asking what it takes to be a city council member. Mayor Davis said ordinary people can be council members as long as they care about “table top issues” and want to be a good public servant.
Councilman Byrden said a council member should be transparent in his actions and said the use of social media is an effective way to reach younger voters. He pointed out that he had live streamed council meetings on his Facebook page in an attempt to make the process more available to the public. Some in the audience voiced their support of having the meetings live streamed on the internet, and asked how such a feat could be accomplished. Byrden encouraged those in the audience to establish a relationship with their council members and let them know that is an important issue so the council members can make it a priority.
Mayor Gainor said council members should have a passion to work for the greater good of the entire community. He said the city charter is available to the public through the City of Cairo website, and encouraged the audience to read it. The mayor voiced his support of airing the council meetings on the internet for those who are unable to attend the meetings in person.
Ms. Brown said council members should represent the entire community, not just certain factions, and she encouraged the audience to get engaged with community matters.
In closing out the evening, Hunter encouraged the people to promote the upcoming Census to make sure everyone is counted. Tuesday’s forum was held at Reflections Event Center and was held to just one hour, beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m.