[Editor's note: As we reported last night, District 9 city councilor Ricky Burgess is facing not one but two challengers in his re-election bid this year. Joining Lucille Prater-Holliday in taking him on is Phyllis Copleland-Mitchell, of East Liberty. Our Lauren Daley spoke with her about the campaign yesterday evening.]
Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell is a relative newcomer to the political scene; she’s never run for public office before. A native of Larimer, the 54-year-old East Liberty resident has more than a decade in the social services field and a background in business, something she hopes to call on during her campaign for District 9 City Council.
She is currently the residential center manager at the Program for Offenders Inc. in Oakland where she oversees a women’s corrections residential facility.
Why throw your hat into the ring?
I really enjoy social service and have been helping the community more than 18 years, working with young mothers and fathers, men and women incarcerated. It's a passion of mine. Our community needs strong leadership and I feel I am that person to step in and just get the job done.
Was there an issue or a tipping point that occurred that you decided you wanted to run for city council?
Every time I drive out of my house, nothing is there. There's no gas stations, no store. We have nothing ... When I was young, everything was in Larimer. I hate that the community looks like this.
Talk about the platform you’re running on.
Crime is a big issue. I truly believe we need to see more police officers on the beat, they need to be more visible. We need to make seniors feel safer and get shelters at the bus stops ... This area also has a high number of abandoned houses.
How do you feel about how things are going in District 9? Are you unhappy with your current councilor's leadership?
I don't like mud slinging. I want to serve the people. I don't like that kind of foolishness. Our focus should be on the community and the people. Why waste time on negativity?
Under Ricky Burgess, federal CDBG funds are currently distributed through the nonprofit Poise Foundation, instead of through the council office. Would you continue this practice, or take control of it? If the latter, what kind of programs would you direct it to?
I should have control of it [and would direct it to] some things with children’s programming. It really helps deter crime if you get to the child during when they’re young and developing.
District 9 stretches from East Hills to Garfield to Point Breeze to Lincoln. That’s a lot of ground. How would you approach the territorry?
They will see my face. I will visit them all. I can’t be a ghost candidate ... It's not just going to be where I live and that's what I'll fix. That's selfish.