Deciding who I should run with this year was easy. My running mates are the only individuals who voted against the electric rate increase in 2014. Since I got involved because I don’t think our governing body is listening to residents and businesses, running on a ticket that shares similar views was important.
Since I’m a fresh face, many have asked me “what are those views?” My candidacy is premised on recapturing that close-knit community and special personality I remember in South River growing up here. Here’s the thing: a governing body sets the tone for a town. The current tone up there is one that doesn’t seem very “South River” to me.
Growing up, if my father had an issue, he’d knock on our neighbor’s door and work it out with him. That’s the nature of our small town. I believe our council’s policies should reflect that nature. Our council needs to better communicate with residents and engage in dialogue with us. More importantly, if there’s a problem, the council needs to provide us with notice to give us an opportunity to fix the problem rather than immediately issuing a summons or sending a bill. But that doesn’t seem to be how things are done anymore.
I want to change that. It may not seem like much, but approaching governance with humility, an outstretched arm, and with respect is something we need more of on the council and I want to see the return of this South River personality to the governing body.
As for specifics, affordability is key to attracting new business and residents that want to start a family here. We need to lower rates for everyone and bring down unnecessary fees and permits that discourage property investment. I want to require that each entry of the code’s fee section (SRC § 155) to have a purpose so residents understand why each fee is necessary. I want to see a business portal that simplifies the process for opening a business in town. I’d like to work towards a more pedestrian friendly downtown. That means exploring beautification projects, investing in well-lit and safe streets so there’s never a bad time to visit our downtown. That also means purpose driven investment that ensures that streets and spaces are given a sense of place with well-defined features.
Youth rec programs need to remain affordable. Let’s stop increasing registration fees for sports like wrestling and basketball. Let’s work with the rec director and our board of education to develop unique partnerships that share resources and facilities in cost-effective ways.
These ideas are just a start. When I hear my opponents in the majority claim our plan lacks specifics, I can’t help but sigh. What they’re really saying when they say that is “pay no attention to the job we’ve done, look at them.” Yes, look at us and cast a vote for the ones proposing real ideas.