SPRINGFIELD — When I started this campaign for Springfield City Council in June 2019, the world looked very different. My belief that Springfield needed to focus on affordable housing, improving infrastructure, attracting and retaining living wage jobs, and livable neighborhoods and strong communities compelled me to step up to serve in whatever ways I could. As the only candidate until early 2020, I appreciated the opportunity to knock on hundreds of doors and talk to so many of my neighbors and to connect, discuss and share around our shared hopes and dreams. With the onset of the pandemic, the painful recession, racial tensions, the resignation of the mayor, and much more, my commitment to face our challenges head on has not wavered.
Our city is growing and changing and we have an opportunity to bring new ideas and creative problem-solving during this important time of transition. I am experienced, qualified, collaborative, and creative, and I also am determined to make sure no one gets left behind or pushed out of that shared future.
With heightened awareness of the challenges and strains on public safety, many of our longtime issues have bubbled to the surface again. Protests following the murder of George Floyd and the issues exposed by the $4.55 million wrongful death lawsuit awarded to the family of Stacy Kenny have raised awareness and inspired many to get more involved with reforming public safety. There is so much room for improvement, including reinventing police oversight in the form of an independent police commission with direct reporting to the city council instead of a toothless advisory committee, creating budget and funding accountability, requiring training and support to shift the current “warrior” culture that contributes to police brutality, supporting and funding strong crisis, mental health, domestic violence, and addiction resources, and, ultimately, diversifying public safety so that every resident can feel safe – regardless of age, race, ethnicity, and gender. I was a loud voice in support of body cameras as a member of the city budget committee and will continue to dig into shifting the culture and improving accountability for public safety.
Springfield has an affordable housing crisis and we are in danger of losing many of the gains that have been made in bolstering our businesses and economic development. With the current recession and recent wildfires, our unhoused population is growing and we have yet to adequately step up to face these challenges boldly. This is not time for “business as usual” or kicking the can down the road. My years of experience in guiding nonprofit organizations and contributing to collaborative strategic efforts to tackle community problems will be assets as we roll up our sleeves to do this work.
The first step is for Springfield to develop an updated economic and housing analysis taking into account the recession and the impact of the past several months on our households. It is imperative we leverage partnerships and work with the county and state to get creative in using public land, maximizing urban renewal districts (Glenwood), and developing special financial incentives to attract private investment and developers.
It is important to support and retain as many of our businesses as possible and help foster resiliency into recovery and beyond. For Springfield, this looks like providing access to resources (special grants, reduced or eliminated fees, partnerships) and looking for creative ways to help businesses thrive (expanding use of outdoor space, infrastructure.) It is going to be increasingly important for the city to advocate for the health and well-being of local businesses and leverage regional, state, and federal partnerships to bring new economic partners and developers. We cannot wait to see where the future takes us. I want to dig in, focus, and strategize for a strong economic recovery.
The Ward 3 race has been arguably the most diverse in recent history, and it is an inspiring representation of our growing and changing city. Not only do we need to make room at decision-making tables for diverse viewpoints, we also need to expand all the ways our residents can get involved and represent their hopes and dreams for our shared future. As councilor for all of Springfield, I will bring my commitment to inclusion, along with years of learning how to work collaboratively and creatively for the benefit of all.
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