Thursday, April 30, 2009

A liveable city for all

The Charlottesville City Council recently adopted a vision statement for the city - a goal of what we want our city to be: “Charlottesville: A Great Place to Live for ALL of Our Citizens”. This vision statement is intended to provide a framework for all we do in city government, a compass to direct our decisions, a commitment to creating a place where everyone can share in what makes Charlottesville a great place to live.

And Charlottesville is a great place to live for many of us. But we can do better.
  • While our median income is rising, a quarter of our residents live in poverty.
  • While our unemployment rate remains better than in neighboring localities, many who do have jobs are forced to look outside our borders for affordable housing.
  • While our bus system is blessed with a fine transportation center, it still doesn't offer an attractive alternative for most commuters.
  • As we work to make our city greener, our streets are choked with cars while pedestrians and bicyclists take their life in their hands on some of our roads.
  • Behind the beautiful main streets lined with flowering trees and lovely homes, we have neighborhoods where parents are afraid for their children's safety, and where gang members trade in drugs and guns.
  • Our schools nurture our youngest learners, and turn out high numbers of college-ready graduates, but our dropout rate is rising, and our achievement gap remains shamefully wide.
So who has the solutions to our city's lingering inequalities? Who knows how to make our city more responsive to the interests of ALL its people?

You do.

I believe that many of the solutions lie in our own community. We need to do a better job of listening and welcoming citizen input in our decisions. We need to make sure our solutions have buy-in from the people affected by them.

That's why I propose to hold City Council meetings at elementary schools and other locations around the city, serving pizza and providing childcare so that residents know their voices are valued. That's why I propose that we support the strengthening of neighborhood associations through leadership development and resources. That's why I believe we need to recruit a wider variety of stakeholders on our boards and commissions, particularly those that make critical decisions for our community. That's why I will insist that city staff improve their customer relations and responsiveness.

We need people on our City Council who are committed to realizing our city's vision - making sure that everyone has a chance to be heard and to lend their energy and wisdom to making sure that everything we do is aimed at making Charlottesville a great place to live for ALL our citizens.

I am committed to being that kind of City Councilor. I'm counting on your vote on May 9 to make it happen. Please vote on May 9 at Burley Middle School on Rose Hill Drive. Make your voice heard.

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