City of Killeen uses free program to improve citizen engagement

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The City of Killeen is now taking applications for its Killeen Citizens Academy, an eight-week program aimed at helping boost citizen engagement.

The goal is for students who participate in the free program to learn the ins and outs of how the municipal government is operated.

Graduate Krystal Martinez was always curious about city government and wanted to learn more about how it is run, so she decided to sign for the academy.

“You’ll know why the city is running the way that it is. Instead of complaining about it, you go to the source and learn about it,” said Martinez.

From law enforcement to public works, once a week, students learn from officials about each of the city’s departments.

Killeen’s Executive Director of Communications, Janell Lewis Ford, said organizers wanted to show the public can have a say in city government.

“We work for you. We work for the citizens. You need to make sure that you’re engaged, that you’re informed, you’re able to make sure your voices are heard,” said Lewis Ford.

“It was really good that we were able to talk to key leaders in the city and ask why they are the way they are,” said Martinez.

Martinez said she started the course in January of 2020. She said she and her group was one class away from graduating then the pandemic hit.

The program had to take a halt on the program due to the circumstances.

“It was kind of during that moment there was not much we could do. We were ensuring that everyone was safe and try to protect our health as much as we can,” said Martinez.

Almost two years later, the class reunited determined to graduate.

“We kind of picked up where we left off. The great thing is that the Killeen employees were able to come together and help us finish that class,” said Martinez.

The students’ two-year commitment of becoming engaged citizens shows they may be delayed, but not denied.

“I think it shows our dedication of how much we truly do love this city, want the best for our families. For our community. We have to come together as one if we want to see changes,” said Martinez.

Applications are open now until January 6.