By Bryan Thomas
I have repeatedly asked you to make sure you vote in this election. It is important in this time of stress and fiscal austerity that every citizen express an opinion upon who should lead our City.
The City Council does not control some of the issues of great concern to us. However it does control how a significant portion of our tax dollars are spent and how our City is developed in the future.
I believe that we need to emphasize jobs and activities in our City for our young people. We need them to stay in our community not have to go longer distances for activities and jobs. The Parks and Rec department is doing a fantastic job. We need to support them and help them to be able to do more.
We have only to drive around our City to realize that not everyone is living at the standard most of us expect. We need to continue the assistance we are providing and find creative ways to do more with our limited resources. Do we want a visitor’s or our children’s view of our City to be homeless people, because we haven’t tried to help?
All the candidates have said they support community development and I certainly support it. I differentiate myself by adding that we need to have a vision of what we want our City to be for our children and emphasize community development that supports that vision. Tattoo parlors, pawn shops, casinos and payday loan offices bring tax money into the City, which is good. We, as citizens, need to decide if this is where we want our children working. Do these businesses provide the kind of City that is our vision? Development comes at a price. Citizens need to decide what price is appropriate.
We have a wonderful, vibrant, multi-cultural and multi-racial City. Our City government and City Council needs to represent that diversity. We need to encourage citizens from every cultural group to participate. This will take everyone’s efforts. The City Council leads and champions that effort and I want to be part of it.
We have so much talent in our City. We have citizens both working age and retired who have expertise in almost every aspect of our City government’s functions. We need to do more to utilize that resource. Too many of our City citizen committees serve as rubber stamps for City staff or are entirely ignored by the City Council and City staff. Working with citizen committees is something City staff does but we need to make the citizen committees more active. Citizens need to feel their input is useful, appreciated and included in City decisions. We need to remind City government that we, the citizens, own the City. It is ours and we will decide our future direction.
A sensitive issue is money. This is a time of fiscal constraint. The City Council must take the lead in controlling spending in such a way that our citizens can see that there is responsible constraint. Too often it appears to citizens that City employees are immune from the cutbacks, limited pay, or limited vacation time, no insurance stresses that fixed income and private sector employees endure. Our time of decreased tax revenue must be shared by all.
With your vote and your help after the election we can define and articulate a shared vision for our City and work to achieve the above. I am asking that you share this with your friends, family and co-workers.