NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — What change do you want to see in your community? That was the basis of a roundtable discussion between Governor Ned Lamont and local leaders in New Haven on Thursday. 

Before a larger discussion among dozens of faith leaders and the Governor, only News 8 sat down with Lamont and a group of these leaders. They shared with us what’s being done in the Elm City to make it better and safer for everyone.

“Being able to understand that we all come from different communities, but one thing we all have in common is a belief, and we believe that everybody should have a good quality of life,” said State Rep. Toni Walker, a Democrat representing the 93rd district.

They said one of their main concerns is gun violence and crime. On Wednesday night, four people were shot in New Haven.

“I think it’s a mistake to reduce everything to a crime problem or a mental health problem,” said Rev. Dr. Jerry Streets, Senior Pastor of Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ in New Haven. “It’s a combination of economic development, opportunities, education, mentoring programs, after-school programs, it’s just a multitude of things that are needed.”

They’re also pushing for greater investment and even more resources to be poured into education, which includes tackling teacher retention and closing the learning gap caused by the pandemic.

“We need to do everything we can in order to make up for lost time and get our children to the point they need to be,” said Rev. Kelcy Steele, Pastor of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church in New Haven.

Addressing the ripple effect COVID-19 has had on the community as a whole is a key component of this as well.

“During COVID, lots of people couldn’t work, couldn’t afford to pay their rent, what’s happening now?” asked Janis Underwood, Ward 25 co-chair in New Haven.

These leaders told News 8 they can do all this by working together and continuing this conversation.

“I hear from legislators, I hear from my staff, but I love talking to folks,” Lamont said. “I think they feel good about the state of Connecticut, we’ve made real progress.”

Following our sit down, the Governor met with dozens of faith leaders to continue this discussion.