LIMA — A number of community organizers looking to catalyze a movement toward racial injustice reform has launched a voter registration campaign aiming to add 10,000 names to the county’s rolls.
Over the last week, Dr. Wllie Heiggins, chair of the steering committee on racial injustice and reform, has been making the initial contacts needed to increase minority representation and strengthen the political voice of minority voters. As of Thursday night, he said he’s reached out to two of the three Allen County commissioners, the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, and the League of Women Voters, as well as touched base with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, to see what could be done to start pushing conversations forward.
At the same time, Heggins asked those committee members at Thursday night’s meeting to start concentrating on the actionable steps needed to reach the campaign’s voter registration goal of 10,000 names. Equipped with the addresses of all 21,000 names of currently-registered voters in Lima, Heggins said committee members can start planning door-to-door operations, staking out high traffic areas and reaching out to other groups in the community to start targeting who isn’t on the list.
He asked that steering committee members work together to start tackling portions of each task in individual working sub-committees.
“It’s going to take some work, and it’s going to take a whole lot of collaboration for this initiative to come to fruition,” Heggins said.
Another important part of the larger plan is increasing civic engagement. Councilor Derry Glenn said that outside of the voter registration campaign, the steering committee on racial injustice and reform will also be looking to hold a number of townhall meetings throughout the community to discuss the various individual facets that comprise systemic racism. Glenn said the first of these meetings, scheduled for Thursday, July 2, at the Chapel of Impact Center, 2000 N. Cole St., will concentrate on police reform, body cameras, use of excessive force and racial profiling.
Glenn said he also will be creating some sort of final document in order to communicate to political decision-makers what the steering committee has done on both the local and state levels.
“We’re dealing with a human rights issue in 2020, and all of it has been sparked from ‘I can’t breathe.’ It has resonated movements,” Heggins said. “We are going to be a solution-oriented group no matter what we do. We’re solution oriented, because now is the time.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.