Yuma Town Hall Reveals Black Issues In City

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Yuma City Councilman Michael Shelton (standing) shared his thoughts with members of the Arizona Commission of African American Affairs Board Kim Dartez and Hel Hannah.

Written by AZI Staff Writer

Yuma – Last Thursday members of the Arizona Commission Of African American Affairs held their monthly meeting in the city of Yuma. The board meeting however, was not the highlight of the day. The Commission also held a town hall meeting at the Veterans Assisted Living facility in hopes of hearing from the community about any and all issues, good or bad, which face the Black folks on a consistent basis.

Even though the attendance was small, the feedback from those present was valuable. Yuma City Councilman Michael Shelton attended both the board meeting and the town hall; he provided valuable insight.

“Yuma is an interesting city with its own issues. We are happy to have the Commission Of African American Affairs come to visit,” stated Shelton.

Residents voiced their opinion on several issues; however, education appeared to be a hot topic. Norma Moore, a candidate for county supervisor said, “We need more quality teachers here. The amount of money invested in education currently is not enough. While funding for education continues to be cut, our teachers are struggling with oversized classrooms and less compensation.”

The group agreed that teachers must receive adequate pay if they are to remain in the field – and in Yuma. There were suggestions made to increase teacher pay starting at $40K for new instructors.

Additionally, there was a recommendation for increased funding for other activities that are not technical in nature. Those included the arts and fitness.

Another intense topic of discussion was unemployment. Understanding that Yuma has a unique tourist season, there were serious concerns about consistent employment for Blacks and young people. Renee Summerour, news anchor and reporter for KYMA News 11 commented, “Unemployment is about 20 percent in Yuma. That number is ridiculous! We need to have more job opportunities in Yuma if there is going to be more growth.”

“I am happy we came to Yuma. There is only one way to find out about a city – that is to go and see for yourself,” commented Cloves Campbell, executive director of the Commission Of African American Affairs. “We plan to come back again to offer ideas and feedback from the governor, the legislature and the courts. This is not a flash in the pan program. We want to get involved.”

For more information on the Commission Of African American Affairs visit the website at www. azcaaa.az.gov or call 602-542-5484.

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