Ward 9 Councilman Redefines His Role for Residents
Ben Hernandez has his focus squarely on helping his residents and their concerns.
Ward 9 Councilman Ben Hernandez said he hasn’t found a definition of a “councilman,” but with six years experience, he’s made his own definition.
For a councilman, it’s important to return residents’ phone calls and emails, listen to them and respond to their issues and concerns, he said.
In being a council member, Hernandez said he’s tried to be proactive in going door-to-door at times to speak with residents and address their issues and concerns. In addition, he said, when he doesn’t know the answer he works closely with the administration to get the needed responses.
A lot of times he’s dealing with issues from parked cars with expired tags to falling tree limbs to septic tanks overflowing, he said.
He said there’s one key reason to keeping in constant communication with the residents of Ward 9.
“They’re the ones who voted for me and got me here,” he said. “It’s rewarding when you help people. It’s satisfying.”
Hernandez moved to Florissant in 1984 after he accepted a job at McDonnell Douglas. During his 12 years there, he met and married his wife.
In living in the area for more than 25 years, he and his wife have raised three children, with the youngest one in fourth grade at Atonement Lutheran and the oldest a freshman at Lutheran North High School. He’s also been active in his church and a number of organizations in the North County area.
Hernandez said he’s had to balance his family, full-time job and being a councilmember, but it’s provided him some momentum to keep Florissant a great place to live and grow.
For example, he’s gotten a cell phone that allows residents to call him all day, even when he’s at work. He assures residents that if misses the call, he’ll do his best to call back during his break, lunch or after work.
Addressing the ward's woes
One of the problems facing his ward, and many other wards, Hernandez said, is housing. In going door-to-door, he’s found a number of empty or abandoned houses.
“All of us are experiencing that in each ward,” he said. “That hurts everybody. “It’s happening all around us. It’s sad.
“But how do you control it? How do you maintain that?” he asked.
Further, Hernandez believe in keeping the streets of his ward clean, maintaining a strong police force and school safety.
As a member of the council, he championed a school safety zone for three years for Halls Ferry Elementary School. Last year, it finally was established with solar panels and a reduced speed limit for the area. The zone mimics the ones at Cross Keys Middle School and Parker Road Elementary School, which are other Ward 9 schools. He said he was proud to be able to make that happen.
If elected to a third term, Hernandez said that there are three factors that are important to the city and the ward: trust, integrity and financial responsibility. All three words are emblazoned on his campaign signs around town.
“I’m just an individual trying to make a difference,” he said.