November 1, 2015
I have decided to run for re-election to the City Council as Fourth Ward representative. While I cannot support every resident's position on every issue, I hope you will agree that I have been a responsive and hard-working representative, and I ask you to support my re-election campaign. If you live in the Fourth Ward, please vote for me in April.
Because I am now engaged in a political campaign, I am switching to a new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for my monthly newsletters. These will continue to feature my regular updates about City government issues and my requests for your input on specific policy positions. During the next several months they will also include limited information about my campaign. To kick off the election season, I would appreciate hearing your opinion of my performance over the last two and a half years. Do you believe I have done a good job as a member of the City Council? In what ways can I improve? May I count on your support?
Having worked closely with my City Council colleagues and the City Manager to craft the 2016-2019 City of Columbia Strategic Plan, it is fitting that this plan serves as the basis of my campaign platform. The three priority areas in the Strategic Plan are public safety, the local economy, and infrastructure, with the overarching goal of increasing social equity - meaning we must create the conditions under which all Columbia residents have the opportunity to succeed.
Public safety is the primary role of local government. I support increased funding for our Police and Fire Departments to bring Columbia into line with similar cities. I also believe it is essential to move quickly towards a "community policing" model, like the one I observed in Gainesville, FL, during a recent Chamber of Commerce trip. This philosophy starts with pro-active outreach into the community to build trust between law-abiding residents and enforcement officers, and emphasizes alternatives to arrest and prison for minor offenses. In this model of law enforcement, significant effort is placed on crime deterrence in addition to crime response.
The local economy determines our collective quality of life - everyone needs a reliable income and secure housing. Unfortunately, these basic essentials are not available for a significant proportion of Columbia residents. Unemployment among African Americans stands at 16% (versus 4% for Whites), about half of all Columbia schoolchildren are living in poverty as measured by eligibility for free or reduced lunches, and we have a desperate shortage of affordable housing. To improve economic opportunities for all, we need to create jobs by investing in local entrepreneurial initiatives that keep our dollars in Columbia, such as renewable energy and the local food system. We must also ensure that low-income neighborhoods receive the local government services they need.
Third, many of Columbia's public infrastructure systems are failing. Existing storm water, sanitary sewer, and transportation infrastructure is aged, poorly maintained and rapidly deteriorating. Constituents throughout the city endure flooding, sewer overflows, and crumbling roads in part because revenues from current rate-payers and taxpayers are used to serve new development instead of fixing existing problems. I will campaign to ensure a more equitable balance between these competing needs. I will also work with the University of Missouri to improve our public transportation system, so that every college student doesn't feel the need to bring a car to Columbia, and we can use our limited transportation dollars more efficiently.
Finally, I invite you to take a look at the proposed new zoning and subdivision regulations and/or attend a public forum on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at City Hall. This revision of our entire development code has been completed by the City's consultant, Clarion Associates, in response to public input received during the creation of our new comprehensive plan, Columbia Imagined. The main goals are to simplify the organization of the code, and to modernize it by encouraging mixed-use, walkable development downtown and more economically vibrant transit-oriented nodes throughout the city. I am generally very supportive of the new code, but I want to know what you think - email me at email@example.com.
I will hold Constituent Conversations at Dunn Brothers on November 1st, 15th, and 22nd. There's no need for an appointment - just drop by any time between 2-4pm. Also, please do not forget to vote on the extension of the sunsetting Parks Sales Tax on Tuesday.