52 neighborhoods. 52 personalities. 52 communities desiring CHANGE.
Not all 52 feel the same love. Some feel more, some feel less. Yet they all deserve to feel the same love.
On our own we are not nearly as strong as we are when we stand together. I run on a Platform of Priorities – one of these priorities rests squarely on the number 52.
I have been getting around quite a bit lately. I have lived in three of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods – North Avondale, Pleasant Ridge, and, most recently, Downtown. I have loved all three of these communities.
I have had the great pleasure of being friends with a number of our neighborhood’s leaders, and have had the great opportunity to meet many more since I began campaigning. I have learned about passion and the need for change from my brothers and sisters in Westwood (Cincinnati’s largest neighborhood), I have heard of the struggles in Price Hill, I have gotten my hands dirty in Lower Price Hill & sought to better the community with Lower Price Hill Community School, I have been a part of a grassroots nonprofit effort to better the lives of children in the Northside, I have supported the small businesses in Pleasant Ridge since I can remember, I have walked in solidarity with those in Avondale, Walnut Hills & Over-The-Rhine who many have forgotten, I have forged new relationships with those in Mt. Washington who have organized to promote inclusivity in their community, I have made numerous friendships with small business and nonprofit leaders all over the city – from Oakley to Madisonville – and I will not ever rest in my goal of bringing everyone to the table. Not ever.
As I have traveled from neighborhood to neighborhood, I have also encountered those who seek to impede the progress of these 52 neighborhoods. Those who feel that “business as usual” is the way to govern, to lead. I am not one of those people. We need to change our ways of thinking at 801 Plum Street so that our neighborhoods thrive. As a City Council Member, I will see myself as the steward of the citizen’s bank account. The way I see it, tax-payers are investors, stakeholders. Their investment comes in the form of taxes. It will be my job to show them a return on investment (ROI) that is fairly allocated and well-invested.
I propose that the allocation of neighborhood funds be based on population. After all, if a blanket amount is allocated, then the ROI is way off balance for numerous investors. This year, neighborhoods will only receive $2,500 and a three month window to spend it. This is due, in part, to the parking lease hold up, but is also due to years of mismanaged finances. It is past time to get back on track.
There has been a lot of money invested into Over-The-Rhine. This is a healthy investment. However, two neighborhoods – Price Hill & Westwood – make up 20% of the entire city’s population, and the disinvestment in those two neighborhoods alone could potentially have a debilitating effect on the city as a whole. A VERY debilitating effect. 20% of the population cannot be left behind so .67 square miles of the city can be redeveloped.
Again – I love seeing the redevelopment in OTR, and look forward to seeing what happens next in a neighborhood I have worked in for over 12 years. That said, emphasis needs to be fairly allocated in other neighborhoods before they undergo the very same disinvestment and blight that plagued OTR for over three decades. If we are PROACTIVE in neighborhood investment, then we will not have to spend nearly as much in the long term. We already have an excellent model to follow using OTR’s redevelopment as a guide.
George Orwell was fond of saying that we, as a people, were not ready to deal with the mistakes of our past. If we look back to how OTR got to where it is now, then we can easily see that the very same trend is occurring in our neighborhoods to the West. We have a golden opportunity to promote mixed-income communities on the West Side all the way to Mt. Washington. All we have to do is pay attention, be committed, and be resilient.
Neighborhoods who feel left behind, neighborhoods who ARE left behind, are breeding grounds for desperation and poverty. Desperation and poverty are breeding grounds for crime. Crime requires more police and more jails. More police and more jails cost more money for our city’s investors. We can be smart about taxes – we can do better – we can be proactive and inclusive, thereby reducing the stress on our city’s budget and the citizen’s pocket. But we need to be fair. And we need to be smart.
What can 52 do for YOU? A lot. 52 is the new magic number. In November, you will have the opportunity to vote for someone who sees the big picture – for someone who understands that “Unity Assists” is not just some clever slogan on a city’s flag – for someone who knows that “Unity Assists” is a guiding principle upon which our city was built and upon which he has built his campaign.
52 = 1.