NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Community members in Newport News want greater transparency from city leaders, specifically about how to address gun violence.

Community members like Ruth Winters say city leaders continue ignoring their attempts to meet and discuss ways to solve problems in the city.

“We are not given the opportunity to come to the table and it’s not from a lack of trying,” she said. “There’s some efforts going on to try to find funding to do the things that the community think needs to be done and addressed. And, once again, that needs to be transparency and meeting with citizens.”

At the last City Council meeting, Winters raised a question about how American Rescue Plan funding would be spent.

“My question is why is Newport News using $0 of its [$]67 million for a problem that people all across the state believe we have, namely, a high rate of violence in our city?” said Winters during the Feb. 8 council meeting.

She says she was told by the city manager they didn’t want to use one-time funding for gun violence prevention measures, but Winters says there are ways to make it work.

“There are ways of making grants, two or three-year grants, which is the national best practice, so that groups can get themselves established and then they can get their own funding after that,” she said.

Now that the city’s ARPA funds have been allocated, their biggest battle continues to be finding a way for city leaders to meet with community groups.

“We’ve talked with a lot of the community groups we work with and we’ve tried to get them to the table because honestly, I’m not the one that needs to be at the table,” she said. “I’m trying to get them to the table, but we need to get in the door and we can’t get in the door.”

The next council meeting is Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Community members tell us if their voices aren’t heard at council meetings, then they’ll make their voices heard at the polls in November.