Friends and neighbors, South Bend is at a critical crossroads. That is why your participation in the May 5th primary is so important. Simply put, we cannot pull out the same old, tattered playbook and hope for different results. We cannot withstand four more years of chaos and confusion on our City Council. We desperately need new ideas, new solutions and new leaders – new leaders who stand up for us.
I believe my campaign offers the fresh ideas and leadership that will help South Bend become a progressive, thriving and economically vibrant city in which all can prosper. To that end, we need to create jobs that provide a livable wage. We need to work on fostering not only safe neighborhoods but a walk-able, accessible community. Finally and most importantly, we need to courageously and forthrightly address the division in our community – a division that threatens to undermine whatever progress we hope to achieve in the near and long term future.
A major concern here in South Bend is the creation of a job-ready workforce. As an Economics teacher, I understand that this must be a collaborative effort: a partnership with Adult Education Programs, Union Apprentice Programs, and employer internships. We need jobs that pay a living wage so families can afford, at minimum, the basic necessities. Without this, we can never hope to get a handle on neighborhood safety issues. Poverty and despair lead to crime. Lifting people up will move us, as a community, in the right direction.
Next, creating a walk-able and accessible community will bring real benefits to South Bend residents, such as lower crime, fewer auto accidents and pedestrian injuries, and increased property values and investment. Statistics even show that a walk-able community leads to lower obesity levels. In South Bend, we can start by making a change in our current Curbs and Sidewalk Program to something more equitable to the many residents already living near or below the poverty line. Revitalized neighborhoods bring about increased pride in ownership, and this deters crime and prevents future blight.
Finally, it is imperative we address the lack of trust that exists between many of our residents in the African American community and elected officials. While we cannot go back and change the past, we can do something about the future. Thankfully, the administration is increasing diversity within the South Bend Police Department. But diversity alone is not enough. With all due respect to the men and women who literally put their lives on the line for us every day, we need to ask tough questions about the culture that exists in our current force. Only honesty and a willingness to change will allow us to heal and to rebuild trust.
I believe that my background in education and business make me uniquely qualified to tackle these challenges and turn them into opportunities. But most of all, I will not be afraid to ask the tough questions and propose the difficult solutions.
Meet the Candidates is a series introducing candidates in their own words. Articles are posted verbatim. South Bend Voice has offered to publish articles for all South Bend office seekers who are on the May 5th primary ballot.