Hinesville District 1 Councilwoman Diana Reid said it again Thursday night at a town hall forum.
She’s no politician.
“I’m a public servant,” said Reid, who hosted the forum at the city’s municipal courtroom. “I’m not a politician, I don’t know how to be a politician, I don’t know how to be politically correct.”
It’s not the first time Reid has refused to be labeled a politician. It probably won’t be the last.
The first-term councilwoman from Rebecca Street, seen by some as divisive due to her role in the ouster of longtime city manager Billy Edwards, said she prefers “public servant,” and told the approximately 25 residents who attended the town hall meeting she ran for office to help those she believes need it most.
“My passion, as a lot of y’all well know, is God’s people,” Reid said. “The seniors, the homeless, the youth ... The main thing I want you to know about me is that I’m a people person first and foremost. I can’t stand to see someone in need.”
Reid wasn’t the only official at the forum. Interim City Manager Kenneth Howard and County
Commissioner Gary Gilliard, who works as a project manager for ESG, the company that runs Hinesville’s public works department, fielded questions and provided updates on roads, projects such as a planned family entertainment center, and mosquito control and trash pickup.
Most of the residents who attended expressed concerns about traffic, lack of opportunities for young people and rental property that Liberty Regional Homeless Coalition President Jim McIntosh called “deplorable, and uninhabitable.”
His organization recently helped a woman and her three kids move from a home on West Court Street, and McIntosh credited Reid with helping make sure the woman got other housing and won’t have to return to the home.
Residents at Thursday’s forum proposed regulating landlords who rent out residential property and requiring them to be licensed and inspected. That’s not the way it currently works, Howard said.
“I don’t want us to leave here thinking that the city can go in and do whatever to a property,” he said. “They have rights. That is not a city role, this is a civil matter between the landlord and the tenant.”
But, Howard said, tenants and residents can complain to code enforcement, and tenants also can take it to the courts, which in turn can require the city to get involved.
Other topics raised during the forum included the long-hoped-for bypass around Hinesville, which Howard said is currently “deemed to costly” by the state, and a proposed partnership involving Georgia Southern, the Hinesville Development Authority and the city in an effort to create a “business incubator” to help local entrepreneurs.
Those who attended seemed to welcome the opportunity to ask questions and raise issues. Several thanked Reid during the forum for listening, and, in one case, a woman credited her for helping solve a problem even though it lay outside Reid’s district.
Reid, who started the meeting by noting she had district maps to pass out for those who were uncertain what district they were in, said she’s willing to cross district lines if she thinks it’s necessary.
“It really doesn’t matter what district you live in,” Reid said, giving out her cell phone number. “If you need me, call me. As a matter of fact, I know one woman who told me ‘someone says if you want something done to call you because you’ve got a big mouth.’ But I’m not good if you’re not good. I’m a public servant. I’m here to serve you.”