Sunday, April 29, 2007

Salemtown Future Need #4: A Neighborhood-Attuned Council Member Who Is Both Communicator and Catalyst for the Common Good

How hard can it be for a Council Member to show up to an association or block grant meeting once in a while or to hold community meetings 5 or 6 times a year to help develop a vision for his or her leadership? In District 19, neighborhoods are in need of a leader who communicates and acts as a catalyst on behalf of the entire community rather than in the narrow interests of businesses or political patrons.

Salemtown, just like the rest of 19, is experiencing tremendous growth and redevelopment. The result is that we do have some greedy entrepreneurs who could care less about working with the neighborhood honestly for balanced growth in which everyone wins. Recently we found ourselves in the unenviable position of contending with both investors and Metro officials because growth is outstripping infrastructure in our neighborhood. The investors don't care because they only want to make money. Departmental officials only want to cover their butts. And many of our residents feel caught in the middle with no where to turn.

It is not supposed to be like that. We are supposed to have an advocate on the Metro Council who not only listens to the contentions, but who is willing to get right down in the middle of the ruckus and help the sides reach a balanced and negotiated compromise. That council member should also be one to assist neighbors in consulting Metro Departments that are not always responsive or accountable. The Council Member should be leading the charge on updating our sometimes century-old infrastructure, while encouraging measured and responsible growth. Above all, follow through is key.

But in order to have proper follow through, the candidates for Council have to commit to staying attuned to the neighborhoods long after the last vote is cast in the August election. Our next council member should meet with us consistently and reply to our letters, e-mails, and phone messages personally. And he or she should be willing to lead Salemtown and the rest of the district boldly, but representatively into the future.

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