I attended a meeting of Fourth District residents last night to listen to their concerns. The meeting was organized by resident Wes Epperson and included updates and discussions with Interim Police Chief Adam Dustman and a representative from Code Enforcement.
Among the topics of discussion were:
· Illegal dumping
· Excessive speeding on residential streets
· Homelessness and vagrancy
· Crime rates and the perception of crime
· Block Watches and Community Policing
· IPD responses to mental health related calls for service
Residents clearly are frustrated with many problems that are negatively impacting their quality of life. They’re eager to partner with IPD and the City to address the issues and begin to find solutions.
During my past service on the City Council (2006-16), we faced these same problems in the First District. When I took office, the City Manager worked with me to create a community development initiative called the Great Northwest Independence Neighborhood Initiative (GNWINI). We divided the First District into eight sections based on natural neighborhood boundaries and held a series of meetings with residents, police, code enforcement, public works, and any other relevant department or agency.
· First, we LISTENED to what residents were concerned about.
· Next, we PARTNERED with residents to find solutions.
· Then we PLANNED a response to their issues WITH them.
· Last, we IMPLEMENTED the plan.
I want to see us (the City, residents, businesses, non-profits, etc.) engage in something like the GNWINI process again…and THROUGHOUT our city. This kind of problem-solving process doesn’t happen overnight, but it leads to:
· Better communication with our residents
· Collaboration to solve problems
· Solutions that don’t “re-invent the wheel”
· New, creative ideas and neighborhood improvements
…and all of that leads to:
· Reduced crime
· Reduced code violations
· Reduced blight
· Reduced homelessness issues
· And, most of all, IMPROVED QUALITY OF LIFE for our residents
In this current city election, I bring the experience we need to solve issues like our Fourth District residents expressed last night. The current City Council NEEDS more experienced members right now and I hope you’ll support me on August 2.