Houston & Peach

Dennis ready to be community advocate

FORT VALLEY – Serving in a political office is a new experience for Fort Valley resident Teresia Dennis, but she is no stranger to serving the community.

Dennis was appointed to serve on the Fort Valley City Council in October after the death in July of Councilman Herman Light. The position will be up for grabs in the November 2009 election to fill out the remaining two years left in Light’s term.

As with the 2007 election, Dennis said she plans to run again and this time, she will be armed with more knowledge about the city’s operations.

The 36-year-old first moved to Fort Valley three years ago with her husband and three children after taking a job with the Peach County school system. For the educator of 14 years, it was a chance to do the work that she loved, near people she loved — her grandparents.

Her grandparents in Montezuma were the ones who brought politics into her life. Though her grandparents never ran for elected offices, she can remember them working with those leaders to get things done in the community. One memory that comes to her mind is that of her grandparents contacting federal and state emergency agencies for food and water during the 1994 flood. Her grandfather operated an organization in the city to provide food and clothing to children.

Appreciating the impact that organization had made, Dennis started the ABC Learning Foundation in Fort Valley. The Byron Elementary School assistant principal works with 14 children struggling in various content areas and with testing. Through the foundation, she also promotes community service by having the children volunteer at a local nursing home.

“I wanted to give them more than food and clothing,” Dennis said. “I wanted to give them the knowledge base of how to be a productive citizen.”

And that is what she is expecting to be as an elected leader — productive.

Dennis sees Fort Valley as a city in need of economic development, particularly retail and restaurants. With so many people lacking transportation and Fort Valley State University being in the heart of the city, Dennis said, there is a strong desire among her constituents for these improvements. They would not only bring money into the city, but jobs as well.

That is what residents say they want and need in Fort Valley, Dennis said.

“I want to be the voice for the citizens,” the councilwoman said. “I’m an advocate for this community.”