City’s first black female council member ready to work on improving city
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Eunice Johnson had until recently never been directly involved in politics. But, the newly elected District 3 Atmore City Council member said, four years of prayer convinced her that she could make a difference, for her district and for the city.
“I’ve been praying about this for four years, and I feel like the Lord has commissioned me to do this,” Johnson said. “I want to make a difference in this district, and whatever I do in this district is going to affect the whole community.”
One of the primary targets for her attention is Patterson Street, which the Atmore native pointed out has become rapt with violence, drug use and litter, especially in and around Patterson Street Apartments.
“When I was a little girl, I had family that lived there,” she said. “Those projects were kept neat. Now it’s so sad. Every time you look around, you’ve got violence, drugs and trash. We need to send a notice to Patterson Street (Apartments) that (the owner) needs to clean this place up.”
She also talked of problems, such as weeded lots and deep ditches along Liberty Street and other locations throughout the district.
“This district is the worst of the five in our city, as far as beautification and having something for the young people to do,” she explained. “The old training school (Escambia County Training School) is just sitting there, right in the middle of the community, when there could be so much going on there.”
Johnson is the first black woman and reportedly only the second female to ever hold a city council seat here. She said those distinctions are an honor but stressed that she will work for the entire community, not just one segment.
“I feel like it’s an honor, and I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to do this,” Johnson said. “I do want to make a difference, for black people, white people, people of all colors. I’m not worried about ‘the sides of the tracks.’ We need to get over that, get past it. My goal is to have something on both sides of the tracks where everybody can go.”
Johnson has two sons (Carlos and Antonio) and four daughters (LaKisha, Charla, Whitney and Angel). She said her effort will be on making life better for them, and for all the community’s children.
“I want to see the people have a better life, a way to come together as a community so we can bring in more jobs, so we can have a better life and our kids can have a better life,” she said. “I’m trying to make a path for my children, my grandchildren, your children, everybody’s children. We’ve got to pass them the torch.”
She also discussed other topics for which she will push, such as conducting council meetings at a later hour (they are now held at 4 p.m.) so that working people will have the opportunity to attend, scheduling time for public discussion at council meetings and working to bring businesses downtown instead of just near the interstate.
“I feel like it’s time for a change in Atmore,” she said. “It is the season for Atmore, and Atmore is fixing to change tremendously. I want to put things in action, not just sit up there and pass bills (ordinances). People need to go to those meetings so they can know what’s going on in this city.”
She said the support she received from her husband of 33 years, Charles, her pastor (Monroe Tucker) and her children was invaluable in her campaign.
Johnson reiterated that she will be an advocate for change, not a politician.
“It’s not about politics, it’s about the people,” she said. “I feel like it’s time for a change in Atmore. I’m not saying it’s going to change overnight. We’ve got to give it time. We’ve got to take it one day at a time, one thing at a time.
“I’m on a mission that goes way beyond the physical realm. I’ve prayed and prayed about it; it’s all going to come together.”