In one way or another, service is what I do. My life’s work has been to seek out the best for others, particularly those who struggle. While a church minister, I embraced the opportunity to serve the members of those congregations and to lead them in meeting the needs of others. During my many years of nonprofit service, I have sought to serve individuals, families, and groups who have faced the greatest barriers to success, always involving a broad range of each community’s constituencies in the work.
I want to help make Columbia a city where every resident thrives. For that to be true, we must be intentional and strategic, with a commitment to progress.
And so I am running to represent the Fourth Ward on Columbia’s city council. I will bring a progressive vision, passion for people, a deep commitment to equity, and a lifetime of leadership experience to represent Ward 4 and address the needs and concerns of all Columbia citizens.
Toward that end, I want to be sure that every voice is heard. This means city officials must make outreach a priority and then be responsive to the concerns of the people who live here. Proximity to those who have needs is critical. The most important people to hear from are those who are most impacted by circumstances and needs as well as the decisions that are made concerning them.
My promise, then, is to carry out my work on city council with a commitment to equity, committed to removing barriers for marginalized groups and individuals and addressing the disparities that remain for many.
I want to see the city respond effectively to our housing crisis. We can begin by the construction and support for what is being called the Opportunity Campus, a center for services to the unsheltered. We must give attention also to the need for housing that is affordable to people across the income spectrum. It is not only unacceptable that so many struggle to be adequately housed, it is imperative for our collective future that we find and implement effective solutions that lead to decent and affordable shelter for everyone.
We must respond effectively to climate concerns. This means reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving quickly to renewable energy sources. There is no more existential threat to our community and, indeed, our planet. Columbia can be a model for how this work is done and we need to commit ourselves to leading the way. We have immediate opportunities and will do well to seize the moment for our children and grandchildren.
Addressing mental health concerns is also high on my list of priority items. We need to be sure that everyone has access to adequate physical and mental health care. I am pleased that this matter is currently receiving significant attention from local providers, the city council, and the community at large. We should take advantage of this momentum which will also address concerns within our schools and regarding public safety.
When it comes to public safety, every Columbia resident deserves to live with a sense of security in their homes and in public spaces, so we need to have effective and adequately resourced fire, EMS, and police departments. Policing is at a critical place and so we need to ask again what we want our police officers to do, recruit the very best to do that work, and be sure that all emergency personnel are fairly compensated for their service to the community.
There is, of course, much more. The city council wants to be sure that Columbia’s infrastructure is sound, that we maintain a strong and capable city workforce to ensure excellent service to everyone, that we support a robust business environment, and that we have the necessary revenue to address the community’s needs.
I look forward to these and other duties, all the while being responsive to the specific concerns of the Fourth Ward and all its residents. I hope I can count on your vote April 5 and on your involvement while I am in office!