Former candidate urges council to be responsive

To the editor:

This is an open letter to the Greenfield City Council: Thank you all for wanting to serve Greenfield. I would have enjoyed working along side you as a council member but will settle for being at your service to do good things for our city.

Because all of you, save Kerry Grass, ran unopposed, please remember what put you in office was not a mandate of the people, but the failure of a two-party system. This statement is not meant to diminish you. Rather, it is to remind you that you are the beneficiaries of democracy gone off the rails when competition doesn’t exist. One party doesn’t field candidates, and running as an independent makes for a good David and Goliath story.

There was a stray Republican, John Patton, who endorsed me because he felt so strongly about my qualifications. I appreciate his courage, because he will be ostracized for a very long time.

When friends and neighbors are afraid to buck the party for fear of personal, professional or business backlash, free speech fades into the background.

And the electorate is complicit in handing you your positions on a silver platter.

Only a small percentage vote, and fewer still participate in the process once their leaders take office. Please don’t let their apathy fool you into thinking you have a mandate or that you’re not responsible to all of your constituents, not just the Republicans.

Had I been elected, following is what I would have hoped to achieve and what I urge you to consider:

  • Walk your neighborhoods. During canvassing, I discovered although District Five has the Pennsy Trail, there is not a park within walking distance in the population-dense northern portion of the district for a family picnic or running a dog. A map wouldn’t have made this necessity as clear to me. Walking the neighborhoods did.
  • Budget for repairing roads. Include adequate money for patching city roads in your budget — and include poorer neighborhoods.
  • Be helpful. Join LINK (Leaders in Navigating Knowledge) — guidance councilors for adults — and Career Success Coalition (K-12); promote these organizations in your districts. This will lead to better schools and career options for graduates.
  • Be proactive. Find out what your constituents need from you; then help them get it.
  • Report your work. Let the public hear what your committees accomplished and see your thought process regarding the issues or your initiatives. A city council meeting should run longer than 10 minutes.

Had I been elected, I would have tried to make city council meetings robust exchanges of ideas and sharing. I would also have made communicating with county leaders a priority, working to align both city and county goals, specifically as they relate to zoning.

But like my elderly neighbors, I’ve reached out to county leaders as a mere citizen and have been ignored. Maybe they will not ignore you, especially since you are members of the party.

I would’ve created a budget overlay for the Revised Comprehensive Plan.

I would have applied pressure to the mayor’s office to make the semi-truck issue a real priority. I’ve witnessed his administration’s acceptance of the status quo on this issue, but fixing the problem should be a top-tier goal.

I offer — to each of you, but especially to Kerry Grass — my time, ideas and experience. I want to continue “working for Greenfield,” as I have been since I moved here. Thank you for your service.

Donna Steele