Editor’s note: Candidates for mayor of Springfield, City Council and school board were invited to submit a column in their own words explaining why they are seeking election April 4, or focusing on a topic of their choosing. All guest columns will be published by March 30.
The effects of this year’s municipal election will be felt in Springfield, and throughout the region, for decades to come.
We, as voters, will decide who is in charge of implementing Forward SGF, and, consequently, what will be done to improve housing and neighborhoods, how the local economy grows to support the needs of current residents and attract new ones, and what to do about still rampant crime and homelessness.
As a Springfield native, I have watched Springfield grow into the vibrant, amenity-filled city that it is today. However, we must recognize that this growth has, at times, been at the expense of some of our very own citizens: The citizens who work everyday, but still struggle to keep up with the exceptional increase in rental prices, or the citizens who have invested their life savings into owning their own home in a neighborhood of their choice, just to get caught in a legal battle to protect the character of that neighborhood. Even down to the issues of speeding in residential neighborhoods, additions of drive through business in pedestrian-friendly locations, and the ever-present issue of traffic congestion and road maintenance.
These are real issues that people face in Springfield everyday, but are often shut out when they bring the issues to the city’s doorstep.
I am dedicated to re-opening that door, welcoming citizens, and allowing us to use our collective voices in the fight for a more equitable city. Giving every citizen the opportunity to speak up when they have a concern, and being there to listen, to ensure we are making life attainable for all people. Neighbors deserve to have a voice. When we are making decisions on how to revitalize, develop, or change an area in Springfield, the people who live in that neighborhood should have the first say.
As a city, we have to continue to grow and make Springfield a more desirable place to live. I believe the people of Springfield want more convenience, and more neighborhood-centric lifestyles. The city can achieve these things by working directly with neighborhood associations and councils to hear their needs, make plans with them and put them into action. Neighborhoods should have just as much say, if not more, than outside interests and organizations who do not have the citizens’ needs at the top of their priority list.
We must also commit to investing more of our tax dollars locally. As the poorest city in the state of Missouri, we cannot continue repeating the same mistakes. When forming commercial contracts, we have often hired from outside our city and region, essentially shipping away money that could stay in our local economy. We must start utilizing local businesses that offer a prevailing wage and competitive benefits. By doing this we can ensure our tax money stays local, and we can maintain our infrastructure in a more efficient and cost effective way. At the same time,we will rebuild the pride that Springfield once had, knowing that our own citizens are building this city.
We need to fully address our crime problem. We have a phenomenal police department that is filled with some of Springfield’s finest men and women, but they are understaffed and under-resourced for dealing with not only crime but mental health issues in our community. Our city needs to give our police officers what they need in order to be successful. By listening directly to our officers we will hold our city government leaders accountable to meet these demands and fulfill their needs. We need to invest into our PAR officer program and create a stronger community policing environment. This program allows for closer relationships, increased communication and trust, as well as allows us to utilize our resources in a more meaningful and effective way.
We must also increase the use of our local nonprofits and mental health providers to help get the resources to the people who need them.
I believe the answers to Springfield’s most pertinent issues are right here in our community, not in an out-of-state firm. The people who know what we need are the people that are directly involved and live in our city. We need representation on our city council that reflects the 60 percent of renters in Springfield, the 29 percent of individuals between the ages of 20-29, and someone who knows what it is like to be within a few paychecks of not being able to make ends meet.
When you go to the polls this April 4th, I implore you to ask yourself: should my city government work for me, or me for the city government?
I, myself, will be voting to make Springfield work for you, and I hope you will join me. On April 4th, please vote for Jeremy Dean for City Council General Seat C.
In their own words: Council General C candidate Callie Carroll
As the daughter of a businessman and a schoolteacher/coach, I learned at an early age what it means to work hard and work as a team. … Those early lessons in the importance of building relationships and having a team mindset have stayed with me and served me well.