I have had several great conversations this week about my city council run. A question/comment that keeps coming up is the importance of not being seen as just some expert on local government, that I need to show where my heart lies. Now I love the nuts and bolts of government. I love budgeting. I love finding new ways to connect government with those it serves. I like statutes. I like numbers. Guilty as charged.
But where does my heart lie? I mentioned I like numbers, here are some:
- 18.2% – That is the percentage of Oshkosh residents living below the poverty line.
- 4,178 – That is the number of Oshkosh public school students living in low-income households (42.2% of the district).
- 1,553 – That is the number of Oshkosh public school students with disabilities.
- 0 – That is the number of Black 8th graders in Oshkosh who scored proficient on the state English and Language Arts Exam last year.
- 31 – That is the number of drug overdose deaths in Winnebago County in 2017.
But it is the numbers I don’t have that really scare me:
- How many people in Oshkosh are insecure in their homes tonight?
- How many people in Oshkosh are currently experiencing domestic abuse?
- How many people in Oshkosh are struggling with addiction?
- How many people in Oshkosh are currently experiencing discrimination based on their race or sexual orientation?
- How many people in Oshkosh are struggling with mental illness?
- How many people in Oshkosh are currently underemployed, or worried about providing for their basic needs?
- How many people, today in Oshkosh, have needs and struggles that I do not even know about?
I embrace the boring parts of governing because good government is usually boring. And it will take good government to make Oshkosh an even better place to live. Grandstanding and petty politics won’t help us meet these challenges. It will take hard work, inclusivity, collaboration, and innovative thinking.
I define success in this role as me leaving office having established:
- A performance dashboard tied to our strategic plan that empowers us to make progress on Oshkosh’s most pressing issues.
- An accountability statement that helps a divided council function as one.
- An interactive budget document and platform that gives every resident a clear idea of where their tax dollar is going and why.
- An intersectoral task force that empowers us to break down silos and achieve common goals. Goal number one is addressing our racial achievement gaps. That is not a school district problem, it is an Oshkosh problem.
I know embrace the boring is not a good campaign slogan, but I proudly do it because my heart lies with those numbers and those questions.