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Guest column from OWN: Town hall, candidate forum planned

In February 2011, the Organization of Westside Neighbors sponsored a candidate forum in at the Westside Community Center. The photo shows moderator Jim Bensberg (far left) with eight of the nine mayoral hopefuls for the 2011 city election. Seated from left are Dave Munger, Kenneth Duncan, Tom Gallagher, Brian Bahr, Richard Skorman, Buddy Gilmore, Mitch Christiansen and Phil McDonald. None of them are running this time (and Gilmore has passed on). The ninth mayoral candidate was Steve Bach, who was eventually elected. OWN will host a forum for the 2015 mayoral and at-large council candidates Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Community Center.
Westside Pioneer file photo
A map shows how the OWN geography is divided into six areas, each of which is meant to have its own representative, based on the neighborhood organization’s bylaws. “NSA” is an acronym for neighborhood strategy area. That was a term used by the city when OWN was formed in 1978, denoting an area that was earmarked for federal funding programs to address poverty and blight. As the designated liaison between the city and the NSA’s residents, OWN also received some funding for outreach; however, in 2014 the city decided to move away from the NSA format, which also led to OWN being defunded. The group plans to continue, in any case. As the map indicates, five of the nine board positions are open to candidates at the March 12 Town Hall. Three terms are for a full three years while two are partial because elected members had stepped down and others were appointed.
Courtesy of OWN
By Welling Clark, President,
Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN)

       OWN Town Hall
       Come learn about the latest news and efforts to better the Westside and the city at the annual Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) Town Hall meeting Thursday, March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Mother Muff's, 2432 W. Colorado Ave. All are welcome.
       Planned information updates and topics include:
       - Election to fill positions on the nine-member OWN Board of Directors (see more information below)
       - Westside law enforcement efforts.
       - Westside Avenue Action Plan update.
       - Avenue (aka No Man's Land) Task Force update.
       - Open OWN board positions.
       The five open board positions are Area 2, Area 4 and all three at-large positions (see map at right for locations and term durations). There are nine board positions in total. Three are at-large and six are specific geographic regions of the neighborhood.
       Two at-large seats are now held by appointed members Linda Schlarb and Jim Thompson, both of whom are local business owners, but the OWN bylaws require that members who have been appointed be confirmed by a vote at the annual Town Hall.
       For more information, contact OWN President Welling Clark by e-mail at welling80904@yahoo.com.
       Meeting locations
       Future OWN town hall meetings are planned to be held at different locations throughout the Westside. OWN's objective is to provide a more festive environment that encourages participation and at the same time helps support our Westside businesses.
       Locations at eating establishments give attendees the chance to order dinner and beverages and have a relaxed evening at a meeting with neighbors without feeling hungry and worrying about where to get a meal. Because OWN is not being charged to use the restaurant March 12, OWN encourages everyone to take advantage of the dining opportunity.
       Crime - see it, report it
       If you see a crime happening, report it by calling 911 for emergencies/threatening incidents or calling the main number, 444-7000, for non-emergencies. The police use called-in crime reports to plan their patrol and staffing levels. If you don't call in, they don't know you have a problem. If you want police protection and a good response time, you need to call in.
       Candidate Forum
       Leading up to the April 7 city election, OWN and the Avenue Merchants will host a Mayor/City Council Candidate Forum Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St. (Note that this is a date change, based on candidate availability, from what was previously announced in our column online and in the printed Westside Pioneer.) Come meet the candidates for mayor and the three at-large seats in the election and learn their stances on various concerns and issues that affect our Westside. Watch the Westside Pioneer online for more upcoming details; stay informed.

(Posted 2/5/15, updated 2/13/15; Opinion: Guest Columns)

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