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Take Action Mon Valley recently held an endorsement meeting for McKeesport mayoral, school board and city council candidates.

“Take Action Mon Valley  is a community group that started in May of 2014. Our purpose is to combat community violence through activism and organizing throughout the Mon Valley. TAMV is an ongoing community effort,“ said V. Fawn Walker- Montgomery, City of McKeesport councilwoman, and Take Action Mon Valley founder and lead organizer.

The meeting was open to the community and was attended by approximately 40-50 community members.

TAMV decided to endorse local candidates as a way to hold them accountable.

Each candidate was given three-minutes to share their platform, political views and plans for the community. Walker-Montgomery and Stephanie Murray, a TAMV member, both mediated the discussion.

“When we were planning our endorsement meeting we felt that it was important to have the public hear from the candidates. Our purpose is to organize and inform the public. In addition, this goes along with our activism piece to assure that voters are more informed. And we had a good turnout,” Walker-Montgomery said.

The topics discussed during the meeting were community violence, blight, jobs and police relations, all of which are huge issues of concern for African Americans in McKeesport.

“In my opinion there are two ways to combat violence through the community, and the community stakeholders,” Walker-Montgomery said. “Mothers in the community must do their part. One of the ways the community can step up is to elect more people that will actually do work that needs to be done. Moreover, becoming a more informed voter is a huge piece to this. You can’t vote for someone unless you know what they stand for and what their platform is.”

Residents want increased opportunity for all, transparency in the government, vacant homes tore down, jobs/economic development and a school system that improves the achievement gap for minority children.

TAMV wants to see a candidate that will develop a plan for how to address community violence and work with TAMV to implement the solutions, she said. Some of the solutions TAMV has presented are effective gun legislation; open review of the witness protection program and a standing committee in Harrisburg, she said.

TAMV recently decided which candidates whom they would like to endorse during the upcoming election. TAMV will endorse judge candidates: Rosemary Crawford, William Caye and Judge Dwayne Woodruff for State Supreme Court;  McKeesport City Council: Cory Sanders, and Keith Soles;

McKeesport School Board: James Brown, Kevin Henry, Terri Kisan and Mindy Moody; and

Mayor of McKeesport: Michael Cherepko.

TAMV also recognizes the mayor for supporting TAMV events and efforts to combat community violence in the City of McKeesport.

The organization is presently working on their anniversary event; community policing efforts in McKeesport; meeting with county and elected officials; and conducting resumé workshops.

“I feel as though the event went well. It was great to see residents asking questions and getting involved with local politics,” Walker-Montgomery said.


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