Top Priorities for Lockport
What is your top priority?
Honestly, Lockport needs citizens engaged in the budget process. Our priorities of clean, safe streets and parks, as well as healthy trees don't seem to be the priorities of the people in office. Instead of spending our tax dollars on fighting workers, we should be investing in getting our streets and parks cleaned up and filled with residents enjoying our green spaces. Instead of taking out bonds to revamp a waste water treatment composte plant that we are still paying off when it was overhauled a few years ago, we should use our bond capacity to fix our water and sewer systems. And who knows what the plan is for $10 million they just received from the state to revitalize downtown and create better access to amenities, but citizens should be part of the discussion. These are important issues that impact every resident and we should not only have a seat at the table when decisions are made, but be empowered in the decision making process.
I believe a stronger Lockport is made possible through stronger citizen voice. Residents should and will have a greater role in the decision making process in the city of Lockport when I am mayor. We need to develop a citizen-centric approach to delivering city services. Many people in our city feel disenfranchised from the decision making in our city. This is represented through the 18% of registered democrats and 40% of registered republicans exercising their right to vote in local elections, this is demonstrated by the lack of people taking part in our city council meetings, lack of volunteers in some community organizations, and more. When the residents and workers are treated with respect, consistently provided full public information, and truly given a voice in the decision making that impacts our communities, we will see a stronger Lockport that is obtainable and sustainable for every resident in every ward.
If major changes to city services, like the privatization of sanitation and ambulance services are to occur in the future, it should be done through referendum and through city wide voting. We should have a monthly newsletter available to citizens, especially those who are homebound, without easy access to meetings and without access to the internet or computers. We still have people in our city with these limitations, but they are currently restricted in their ability to take an active part in our community; this should be considered when addressing issues that impact our residents, city services, taxes, and more.
The mayor currently has the power to appoint the city clerk, the city council president, the city attorney, every member of every board and committee, the chairs of every board and committee. This is not ok. We need representation from every ward on every board and committee. Some appointments should be by the mayor, as the person was elected by the people, which demonstrates some trust in the position. The mayor has a right to have some advisors that are trusted by him/her. Having said that, when it comes to committee appointments, I believe the mayor can recommend members of committees, but the city council should have approval over them, similar to senate approval of Presidential appointments. Also, all committees should have equal community representation from each ward, inclusive of all parties involved, including representatives of workers, residents, businesses, community organizations and city officials. Representatives-volunteers approved by the Common Council and Mayor- from each ward should be placed on all boards and committees.
To further open transparency of our local government, I believe committees and boards should be presented to the public with a description of duties and responsibilities, and allow for open enrollment for volunteers to sit on them. We need people with experience directly related to each board and committee. The boards and committees should meet regularly and address issues, including research of issues, to present to the common council, mayor, and the residents. These reports should be made public and accessible on the website. Past budgets should be available on the website, unlike it is currently, just try to click on it now and see what happens. Understanding our budget and how it is implemented will help committees, boards, and community members make informed decisions. Each ward should make every attempt to have at least one community member on each board and committee to be representative of each neighborhood. Residents from every ward, socio-economic group, and multi-generational perspectives should be on our committees and boards to expand citizen voice and share their insight, experience, and knowledge with the city officials, council, mayor, and residents for more effective decision making. Opening up town halls, holding phone conferences, and interactive live streaming events that allow residents to speak about issues that matter to them without invoking 3-minute maximum and denying a direct response will also add to citizen voices being heard and respected.
Elected officials should be held accountable to the people they represent. In order to do this, transparency of policies, services, actions, and how they impact the community is necessary. City government should share open communication through websites, document sharing, public forums, etc… This will encourage more people to become actively engaged in the decision making process. Posting agendas along with the documents needed to understand the items presented at meetings should be made available prior to meetings. An educated community sustains a more positive community and allows decisions made by their representatives to truly represent the constituency. Access to departments, as well as government officials are necessary to meet the needs of the people. Whenever legally possible government decisions should be transparent as possible. We should look into creating an open government advisory board that will build a trust within the community on the issues the officials must address to meet the needs of the community. We also need to re-establish the Human Relations commission as stated in our city charter and the Disabilities Advisory Board to ensure the inclusion of all residents in decisions that impact every citizen.