Is The Future Somebody Else's Problem?
It's getting to be time to decide whether I should run for city council again or sit this one out. Until very recently I was pretty sure I was going to toss my hat in the ring. I had begun to map out a strategy and refine a platform. Just like the last time all of my emphasis would be on how to make North Adams a more appealing place for those who might move here to start a business or be moving to area for job. This evolution would also make the city a much more livable place for most of its current residents, whether they believe it, or not. Our future lies in building a middle class. It is the only way to pull ourselves out of the spiral of self reinforcing poverty that has had North Adams in its grips for many years.
Lately, though, the "don't change anything" crowd has been very vocal. I fear that this election cycle may be the most viscous in years. I love the sport of politics, but on the local level, when it is neighbor against neighbor rather than Senator versus Senator, the venom bothers me. The '09 mayoral race and the recent tax override vote reminded me just how angry and petty some people can get in this town when they perceive a threat.
I really have no desire to become a dartboard. My hope is to present ideas and facilitate policies that look forward, not to be yelled at by somebody who thinks that he doesn't need to pay taxes because he "turned out just fine" 40 years ago and "didn't even have any of those newfangled AP courses!" There is a large portion of this city's population that really could care less what the city looks like when they are gone. In their opinions, the future is somebody else's problem. It still amazes me that the most vocal people of this sort will deny that there is any connection between property values and the quality of the public school system. The mind boggles.
Is it worth the trouble to battle this attitude? Should I go out and call 'em like I see 'em;
- that no shops are going to open and survive,
- no new jobs are going to be created,
- no new businesses are going to move to town,
- no neighborhoods are going to improve,
- no slumlords with sketchy tenants are going to be driven out,
- no appreciable numbers of our population living in poverty are going to climb out of their situation,
UNLESS WE BUILD A MIDDLE CLASS IN NORTH ADAMS!!!! Is this so damn hard to understand?
So..... What to do? Run and be castigated, and if I am fortunate enough to win, get stuck in the middle of a fiscal crisis that is a major mess? Or should I sit this one out and let the local Tea-Party candidates inherit the mess they made?
I love the ethic of public service and will continue the efforts that I currently undertake in my various roles. But volunteering (the council's salaries have been eliminated in the current budget) to try and drag a city out of a crisis and self-defeating mindset while dodging arrows and mudpies is not really what I had in mind.