Norristown Municipal Council held its annual reorganization meeting on Monday, Jan. 7, selecting the president and vice president and assigning committee posts for 2013.
Both councilman Gary Simpson and William Caldwell were re-elected to their posts as president and vice president, respectively.
Simpson took the opportunity to respond to residents who had come to the meeting to ask council what was being done in response to the recent upswing in violence in Norristown.
"Much of the problems that are occurring in Norristown are not one hundred percent a problem because of the lack of policing," said Simpson. "I think what it is, is that we are faced with a criminal element that is probably indicative to what goes on currently through the nation. This is nothing new."
Simpson went on to note that the economy, high unemployment and a lack of opportunity for young people coupled with a lack of state and federal resources all contribute to the problem.
"I think that council has been pushing very hard to find ways to be a little bit more proactive to those concerns," continued Simpson. "I think the real problem and the real concern is lack of community participation in dealing with a lot of these issues."
Simpson called on residents to speak up in defense of their community.
"I think many of us know who are involved. I think many of us now why it's happening," said Simpson. "But most of us decided not to say anything. I think that is just as damaging as somebody pulling a trigger or stabbing someone."
"I come to the community to ask [them] to get involved," said Simpson. "If this is a community you say you love, that you grew up in, then it is just as much your responsibility as it is ours to ensure this changes and that we go forward on a path that helps with the change to create a stronger, more viable community."
The following appointments were made to municipal council committees for 2013:
- The Public Works Committee will be chaired by Marlon Millner and co-chaired by William Caldwell.
- The Public Safety will be chaired by William Caldwell and co-chaired by Linda Christian.
- The Finance, Personnel and Administration Committee will be chaired by Cathy Lawrence and co-chaired by Marlon Millner.
- The Code Committee will be chaired by Linda Christian and co-chaired by Dwayne Royster.
- The Planning and Economic Development and Business Development Committee will be chaired by Gary Simpson and co-chaired by Dwayne Royster.
Councilwoman Mimi DeSouza was not assigned to a committee for this legislative season and sent Norristown Patch a letter expressing her disappointment over the move.
"While it is the council president’s prerogative to decide how committees will be structured and who among council would sit on these committees, I am disappointed by his decision to not place me on a committee," wrote DeSouza. "I do want to ensure residents of Norristown that even though I will not be on a committee, I will continue to do the hard work to ensure that your tax dollars are used effectively to make Norristown a better place to live."
Simpson declined to comment on the appointments.