Setting the stage on council

Published 6:33 pm Saturday, November 15, 2014

Less than two weeks after winning election to City Council, Leroy Bennett, Don Goldberg and Tim Johnson already have hit the ground running.

They have attended a City Council meeting and joint work session with the Planning Commission; have met with or have scheduled upcoming meetings with the mayor, city manager and department heads; and have talked to a lot of people around the city whom they say are excited about the coming year.

“Everywhere I turn, people are saying they are excited the three of us were elected,” Bennett said.

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The three, who will take the oath of office and begin their official duties in early January, were reluctant to say much about definite plans until they actually get into the office and begin doing their jobs.

“I’ve been out in the community talking to people and hearing their concerns,” Bennett said. “In the communities I have not represented in the past, I am really going to those areas, telling them I want to be a part of that area and they can get in touch with me anytime.”

Bennett is a former council member who was drawn out of his borough in 2011. He ran in his new borough — the Cypress Borough — this time, defeating Vice Mayor Charles Brown and setting himself up to represent part of his old borough as well as some areas he hasn’t represented before.

“I am looking forward to working with the council and staff and all to continue to move the city forward,” Bennett said.

He said he will be paying close attention to the budget process for the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget, which already is under way internally.

Goldberg, who defeated Councilman Charles Parr in the Suffolk Borough, said he plans to tackle the things he talked about during his campaign, including schools, first responders, economic development, regionalism and transparency.

“Those issues are still going to be where I’m putting my attention,” he said.

But Goldberg, like Bennett, said he’s interested in listening and learning at first.

“I want to hear what people are saying and sort of listen a little bit,” he said. “The first of the year, once I’m sworn in, I’ll be better prepared.”

Tim Johnson, who defeated Councilman Jeffrey Gardy, said “working with the city so far has been wonderful.”

He said he wants to wait until he is sworn in before making plans.
“That makes sense,” he said. “We can’t accomplish anytime until we listen. We’re listening and learning.”

Mayor Linda T. Johnson said this week that “the transition is already taking place.” She has met with two of the councilmen-elect and has scheduled a meeting with the third for next week, when it was most convenient for him.

She said she remains optimistic about what the future holds for Suffolk, no matter who is on the council.

“We’re going to do what we have to do to pull this city forward,” Johnson said. “I think we’re going to be in a good place. Things change, and we move with them. Everyone seems excited and ready to serve.”