Personally this pandemic has turned my life upside down. When shelter in place began, we lost three jobs in one weekend. Then I got sick. Really sick. Overall I have had a fever for fifty days this year along with a long list of other symptoms, unfortunately some continue to linger after seven months. We were extremely careful from the onset of the shelter in place order yet still managed to come in contact with the virus. To overcome this pandemic as quickly as possible it is important we all play a part in helping our larger community. We must take precaution not to spread the virus, while also ensure our family, friends, and neighbors are doing ok. The physical toll is easier to see however countless people are struggling with anxiety, depression, fear, and isolation. Each and everyone of us needs to reach out, call the ones we care about and check in on each other. We're all burned out at this point, but we need to keep our guard up to ensure our quickest recovery.
Link to Elgin COVID-19 Resource page: COVID-19 Resources and Information | City of Elgin, Illinois - Official Website
Kane County Health Department: COVID-Info (kanehealth.com)
When it comes to our budget I believe more input from the community is necessary. One of my goals for our budget process is partnering with ClearGov which will streamline budget benchmarking for city hall, as well as our residents. Another is to establish a calendar of engagement for our neighborhood groups. We need to build a stronger relationship between residents and their tax dollars, not only so they have a say in budget decisions, but also so they know the challenges facing city leaders and TRUST their decision making process.
Economic Development in the post COVID are will be written about for decades. However early indicators seem to favor communities like Elgin. We have affordable housing relative to major metropolitan areas, we have beautiful outdoor spaces, access to Chicago, and our population diversity is a tremendous asset. We need to shout this from the mountain tops and go after remote workers. We also need to showcase the affordability of our commercial space to business owners in Chicago and other surrounding communities. Additionally I believe we need to start intentional conversations around our opportunity zones. We need to ensure our residents are given a chance to invest in their community; they deserve to own a part of our progress. However all of this is takes a lot of work, and I think we need to strongly consider bringing a full-economic developer to work for Elgin.
Make no mistake, the challenges of our changing climate are already upon us. Fortunately our region is well positioned to handle the changes, however, many people people in America are already looking for a new place to call home. As we move forward in this century I believe the Great Lakes region will become increasingly desirable and we need to take advantage of this shift. How Miami responds to their changing environment will look dramatically different than Elgin's, nonetheless, we will need to look at the future of our city through the lens of this ongoing change. Which is why I believe I am the best candidate for this moment. As a student at Elgin Community College I started the Student Organization for Sustainability. I have also spent a large portion of my professional life studying and working in areas directly tied to building more resilient communities. I am ready to work hand in hand with residents and our incoming Sustainability Coordinator toward building a stronger, more self-reliant, Elgin.
Elgin has a long history of stepping up to help those in need, and we will continue this tradition. As someone who has lived next to the parking deck at Chicago and Spring street, I have have witnessed up close the struggles of those who live un-sheltered in our community. Over the summer I began working with a team of Elgin residents to pursue better options for sheltering, feeding, and transporting residents. We have been meeting with individuals, business owners, police, state leaders, soup kettle operators, and shelters. You may have even digitally signed the petition I made this year which sought to help PADS secure a new location. Thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way. We believe it is important to protect those who have fallen on hard times; and we believe housing first is a way to ensure individuals can finally get on their feet while attempting to put their best foot forward. Housing first models have also shown over time to be more cost effective than our current emergency response approach.
Public safety is more than our police department, it's about us. We need more people to get involved and make lasting positive change at the neighborhood level. We can not expect police, attorney, and judges to make us safer. They respond, we can prevent. However we can only do this if we look out for each other. Fortunately leaders in Elgin are willing to experiment with new approaches. Recently Elgin Police Department initiated community advisory boards. There are around seventy residents who serve on these boards, and I am one of them who represents the east side of Elgin. We are excited to start building our community engagement ecosystem and I believe the more people we get involved, the safer our neighborhoods will be. Beyond these groups we also need to ensure there is a constant intentional interaction between police and residents. There needs to be more two-way communication and accountability for us to reach healthy levels of trust. A goal of mine is to ensure neighborhoods have crime and 311 data specific to their boundaries. This way we can assess the specific challenges of those areas and set goals to measure progress. Each neighborhood is different and we need to evaluate at those levels. Together we can make our street safer and rebuild trust in each other and our institutions.