The following appear in the Post Standard print edition on Thursday, October 29 and online on October 27.
Over the last few months as I have walked the streets of Syracuse, knocked on doors, and talked to residents, I have seen the debris of the crime and poverty that impacts us so heavily. Many of the buildings I have entered are flaking, crumbling, porches sagging, doors not working, halls and stairwells flagging darkly, faces at the screen doors defensive and distrustful of local government. I ask myself each night after returning home: How did things get this bad?
We, the professionals, leaders, politicians, activists, advocates, and businesses -- we, the ones that get looked to for solutions -- we know the answers. We need funding for schools and youth activities, jobs with living wages, strategies to keep wealth and resources in the hands of city residents.
Humans have for ages known of education as the foundation of creating not only a capable work force, but also a fundamentally kind and civic society. We have for ages recognized that nutrition enables success at studies and cognitive development. We have known for ages that a safe and healthy home, street, and neighborhood create a productive environment and a community of support. Yet, we continue to not only underfund our schools, but also continue to segregate the most struggling, as if they will pick themselves up, with only struggling generations before them, in continually poor and racially segregated neighborhoods.
Maslow famously published the Hierarchy of Needs which states "physiological needs are the physical requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail. Physiological needs are thought to be the most important; they should be met first." But, how we go about helping to meet those needs should be of concern.
Treating the issues of people in our city as problems to solve, as opposed to opportunities to empower, is clearly not the answer, unless a 50 percent child poverty rate is the result we are trying to reach. Providing daily groceries only serves to keep bellies from growling for one more night -- it doesn't stock the home pantry with the security that there will be food every day like a living wage job from a local hiring ordinance would. Helping someone find a minimum wage job only serves to pay one more month's rent -- it doesn't create business ownership or family financial stability for a lifetime like ownership in a member-owned worker cooperative business would.
Are we too focused on getting the vote, the promotion, the security for ourselves, that we only specialize in today's problems instead of planning systemic solutions for our children and for the future residents of our city? Constituent services are not enough to solve the poverty epidemic in this city -- if any councilor tells you that is what they are focusing on, then they are not looking beyond another two years. Responding to constituents should be the bare minimum expectation. We need to raise expectations and demand that our councilors and elected officials have a vision for the future of the city and our people.
I'm running for 2nd District councilor because we deserve a Syracuse that works for all of us. The goal of city government, right now, must be to end poverty and create the conditions where all families can have a dignified life here in Syracuse – with safe neighborhoods, fully-funded schools and services and living wage jobs.
We need a city government that is passionate and dedicated to serving the people of the city. Councilors need to be proactive and engaged, monitoring the proper management and performance of city agencies, making forward-thinking land use decisions, overseeing the city's budget with the people in mind first and foremost, and legislating on a wide range of other subjects - all geared towards managing the City of Syracuse for the benefit of all of us.... For we know the answers, we simply need the political will.