December 18, 2015
I would like to invite you to my 2016 Re-election Campaign Kick-Off Event on Tuesday, January 26th, at Shakespeare's West. Whether you support my positions or oppose them, please drop in between 5:30 and 7:30 pm to hear about my ideas for improving the quality of life for everyone in Columbia and to share your own thoughts.
I have recently updated my website with an analysis of what I believe to be the most pressing policy issues facing the City of Columbia over the next three years:
- Public safety
- Local economy
- Social equity
I have also outlined my position on each one, based on research of the issues, constituent and community dialogue, and my first-term experience on City Council. For example, my top priority is to identify new funding to increase staffing levels in the Columbia Police Department within the next two years. Please review my entire policy platform and strategies for addressing these critical community issues, and let me know your response.
If you're a Fourth Ward resident, I seek to win your vote on April 5th; if you live elsewhere in the area, I hope to win your support. Here are some of my accomplishments as Fourth Ward Council Member for the last two and a half years:
- Responsiveness to Residents: Since joining the City Council in 2013, I have worked hard to respond effectively to every communication I receive from constituents, including obtaining technical and operational information from City staff on behalf of residents.
- Homelessness and Affordable Housing: With about 100 chronically homeless people in Columbia, and one-third of all rental and owner-occupied households "cost-burdened," I initiated Columbia's first Affordable Housing Symposium, helped secure needed funds for the Room at the Inn (RATI) emergency shelter, and volunteered there myself.
- Reduced Public Subsidies for New Development: After conducting a research study showing that new development receives between $10 million and $15 million per year in public subsidies for infrastructure, I have led the campaign for equitable allocation of capital expansion costs, including successfully passing and sustaining a policy that will increase sewer connection charges from covering just 25% to covering 75% of the cost of new sewer capacity.
- Adopting and Implementing Community Plans: I believe strongly in an authentic process of community engagement, coupled with development, adoption, and measured progress of action-oriented plans, and I have worked hard to implement the recommendations of our Comprehensive Plan, Columbia Imagined, and develop the City's new 2016-2019 Strategic Plan, with its focus on "social equity."
- Leadership on Race and Equity: In response to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and racial unrest at the University of Missouri, I have educated myself on the history of racial and economic disparities in Missouri and started an honest and transparent discussion of these difficult issues, including exploring how the City should respond.
In my last newsletter, I asked for your thoughts on the racial unrest on campus and its connection with the issue of unequal access to economic opportunity in our community. I was pleased to receive dozens of responses, many of which are posted at my website. Here are a few excerpts:
"The physical and verbal assaults that have captured national attention, I feel, are simply escalations of long simmering "micro-inequities" targeted at minorities and graduate students."
"According to my classmates, the racial problem here is more serious than elsewhere in the country, and life can be especially hard for the black students who come from some other parts of America that are more diverse and inclusive."
"Too many whites carry what is called "white guilt" and feel we must somehow atone for the sins of our fathers and forefathers. I reject that notion."
"Schools need to focus more on the students who are not college bound."
"We would do well to promote a minimum wage that would allow someone to support at least themselves (and possibly a family)."
"Community policing is an essential part of the solution."
On the subject of community policing, Columbia Police Department has announced the namesof the officers selected to join the Community Outreach Unit, whose mission is to open lines of communication with the community while rebuilding community partnerships. I was very pleased to learn that CPD recruited diverse community leaders to participate in this important selection process. During Monday evening's Pre-Council meeting, we will discuss the three neighborhoods where this pilot program will be implemented.
Finally, I want to remind you to attend my Campaign Kick-Off Event on January 26th, let you know that my Constituent Conversations will be held on Dec. 20th, Jan. 3rd and 17th, and wish you a happy holiday season!"
Oh, and don't forget to look me up on Facebook!