Oklahoma Watch and the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication presented a public forum on April 16 about challenges in low-income neighborhoods in south Oklahoma City.
The Q&A forum with local leaders focused on the needs and concerns of south Oklahoma City communities and is tied to a mobile video news project, “Talk With Us: Poverty in Oklahoma City Neighborhoods.”
Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze moderated a discussion with civic and community leaders about issues they see and deal with in south Oklahoma City.
Torres said south Oklahoma City has a diverse population that is growing rapidly.
“We have more children than we have space for in most of our buildings,” Torres said. She would like to see the city continue to support schools through programs like MAPS for Kids.
Brooks-Jimenez said increased voter participation is an ongoing effort. Candidates that appeal to south Oklahoma City residents need to be identified, and there needs to be more engagement outside of election years.
“There has to be sustained efforts to be able to grow people’s engagement and hopefully their registration to vote and their participation,” Brooks-Jimenez said. “When you have a state house race where someone wins with 300, 400 votes, there’s something drastically wrong with the process.”
Salyer said voter outreach is complex because young people don’t have home telephones, don’t read newspapers and rarely open the door when politicians come knocking. She social media may seem like the obvious answer, but she wondered how many people at the forum used social media.
“It’s a very complicated question as to how the voter today wants to hear from us and how they’re willing to learn about what we have to say,” Salyer said.
Oklahoma City Councilwoman Meg Salyer
Salyer took office as the Ward 6 council member in November 2008 and was re-elected to a third term in March. She is a member of the Council Finance Committee, Council Economic Development Committee and Council Social Services Committee.
She also serves as a member of the Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Greater Oklahoma City Sports Consortium. She is on the board of the Oklahoma School of Science and Math Foundation, the Kirkpatrick Foundation and the Civic Center Foundation.
Before taking office, Salyer served on the Citizens Committee for Community Development for 10 years and as a member of the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust. Salyer is president of Accel Financial Staffing, which provides contract, contract-to-hire and direct placement of employees specializing in accounting and finance careers.
Oklahoma City Public Schools Board Member Gloria Torres
Torres has served in the educational profession for 25 years. Beginning her career in 1989 with Oklahoma City Public Schools, Gloria served in several capacities, from teacher assistant to principal.
She was appointed to the board as the District 6 representative in August 2014.
She currently serves as the coordinator of the Oklahoma City Community College Capitol Hill Center and is a board member of the Community Action Agency, Historic Capitol Hill Business Council, Oklahoma City Habitat for Humanity-Family Selection Committee and American Red Cross-Hispanic Advisory Council.
Attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez
Brooks-Jimenez is president and managing attorney of Michael Brooks-Jimenez, P.C., firm specializing in immigration law, criminal defense, workers’ compensation and personal injury. His legal services team focuses on defending the rights of Hispanics.
Brooks-Jimenez previously served as president of the Latino Community Development Agency for five years. Other memberships include the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Oklahoma City.