I took a walk yesterday on one of the trails in the Charlestown State Park. It was a beautiful day and, since it was the final day of 2007, it was an opportunity to reflect on the year's inevitable trot toward the past.
First off, thanks again to all who voted for me and to all who have continued to express hopefulness about the new City Council. It is exciting and rewarding to hear such expressions. It is also humbling. It is exciting because people seem to be expressing a palpable feeling of good things in the future.
One of the most promising portents of good things to come was announced just before Christmas. The appointment of Carl Malysz is a sign that Mayor England is intent on making real progress for New Albany. Carl is a true asset to this community. His unwarranted dismissal from city government under Mayor Overton was one of the most shortsighted moves I've seen. I heard life-long Republicans express outrage over Carl's firing. Malysz's time away from service to New Albany may have provided him with an even greater understanding of government which he will bring to his new position. In a way, the city may yet owe Mayor Overton for unintentionally adding to Carl's value to New Albany.
The allure of the New Year's clean slate is that, as of right this moment, no mistakes have been made. Unfortunately, that condition will not last.
I was speaking to a restoration contractor recently who said, "if you see trouble in an old building's wall, look at the foundation. That's usually the source of all the problems." The same is true of government at any level. What is the foundation of democracy? People, of course. That is not to say that people cause the government to sputter inefectually, but rather the absence of people, the disconnection of people from government, makes a weak foundation for democracy. At the national level, money is such a qualifier for involvement that most people are effectively excluded from the process. At the local level, people generally don't decide to get involved for any number of reasons. One of the fundamental goals I want to pursue on the City Council is to broaden participation in our government. I'd like to see citizens who have not been involved in civic affairs find the climate inviting enough to become involved. This city is ours, all of us, not just the ones who won an election.
In the coming weeks and months I will be working to build support, on the council, for boards and commissions to be chartered by the council. These bodies will address issues and act as conduits of information the Mayor and the Council can draw from. There is no sense building walls of separation between the people and their government. The entire community can benefit from greater involvement.
These boards will not solicit employers for the industrial park. They won't write laws. They will bring government and the people closer, and they will inform the process of building a better community.
Some ideas for such boards are ones to tackle beautification, identify targeted green spaces for tree planting, bring citizen ideas on the environment to governmental decision making. These are just a few.
Be thinking of ideas you'd like to see advanced through citizen-staffed boards. We've got a clean slate to write on.