District 1 facing backlash due to some Savannah residents feeling unheard

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Some District 1 residents held their own meeting Thursday night following the budget retreat - speaking out against Alderman Van Johnson - because they don't feel like their concerns are being heard.

Alderman Johnson took to Facebook Live Tuesday night for a virtual town hall-style meeting. We saw firsthand some comments from countless community members thanking Johnson for this convenient way of communication. However, clearly, that's not felt across the board, and that was very evident at Thursday night' meeting.

They want answers.

"I thought it was very unique going online, but this should have happened first," said District 1 resident, Curtis Cooper.

An 'all call' for several neighborhoods in the district cried out for better communication.

"We invited all four of our city representatives that represent you,"

Van Johnson...a no show.

"We really don't know what the balance of the budget is going to be, and we just want those questions answered,"

Johnson says he couldn't give those answers until the city budget retreat. That's where he spent the day Thursday, feeling that he fought for his people - and fought hard.

"We have a sizable amount of our population, because obviously if you're poor, you don't own a home," the alderman said.

Johnson says he fought for alternatives and for council members to put themselves in peoples' shoes.

"We're not them. We haven't really said, 'how will this affect you? Does $20 affect you? Does $240 affect you?' I mean, that's my concern because once this leaves the station, it ain't coming back," Alderman Johnson said.

He thought the first-ever Facebook Live meeting was a success.

'You know what, John? That's a good point. I have 166 people on here. Again, obviously, it's working,' he said during the Live. 'And you like my page. I love you too, Paula.'

Johnson also scheduled more than two more in-person town hall meetings for District 1 in the next two weeks. It's times of high tension and financial worry, but Johnson says it's not time to point fingers.

Friday is the second and last day of the budget retreat. City council will also decide whether or not the fire fee will be included in the 2018 budget.

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