Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Candidates' Forum This Thursday Evening, 7 pm, Mills Lawn

Each of the candidates for local offices--school board and village council--will be giving a short statement and then we'll all be open for questions from villagers at the Candidates' Forum (sponsored by the Men's Group) this Thursday, October 25th, 7 pm, Mills Lawn School. (Unfortunately, right now this runs at exactly the same time as the Antioch College Celebration Dinner, which I am very sad to miss. I will try to stop by afterwards if it is not too late!)

Here are my answers to the questions asked by the Men's Group, which will be published in their program:

1. Why have you decided to be a candidate for the office you seek? Yellow Springs is a living community. I love its feistiness and messiness, its quirkiness. I am running for Village Council for the same reason I have invested in a key downtown business site: I believe our village offers an attractive alternative to the homogenized, strip-mall world around us. The world needs our individual skills, our beautiful setting, our historical institutions, our vision.

2. What relevant experience do you have to fulfill the duties of this office? I grew up on a farm outside a tiny town in Iowa; with only 35 people in my public high school class, everyone had to be active in just about everything! As a professor of English and Director of the Women’s Studies program at Wittenberg University, I’ve brought that small-town, 4-H sense of responsibility to my leadership in University and departmental governance—while remaining a dedicated mom, teacher, scholar, writer. I recently edited and contributed key essays to a well-received reference book on the history of public policies for adoption and foster care. Over the years, I’ve sung in the Community Chorus and contributed to a variety of community groups in the village. This summer I was a leader in the ad-hoc group of residents seeking to keep Antioch College alive.

3. How will you balance the needs of your constituency with those of the entire community? Village Council seats are “at large”; each member’s constituency is the entire community. Council members must actively welcome the democratic participation of all citizens, regardless of politics.

4. What is your vision for the community you will serve if elected? What are the most important issues facing the community, how are they related to the office you seek, and how do you propose to address them? I envision a lively, diverse, arts-oriented, bike-friendly, walkable college town, embraced by a protected greenbelt. A place that is attractive to visit and affordable for a diverse array of residents. Challenges? The uncertain future of our largest employer, Antioch College; a lack of affordable housing for young families and persons on fixed incomes; and concerns about energy/environment. There’s no “silver bullet” for these problems. Democratic processes allow us to tap our collective wisdom and draw out the specialized skills of our residents for creative problem-solving. Council must facilitate this process; it’s our best hope.

5. In the face of declining population, declining jobs, declining revenues and increasing costs, how would you either reverse these trends and/or strike a balance between the ‘human’ and the ‘physical’ (infrastructure) services that bind us together? At our 10/1 Council meeting, Dan Young asserted that, realistically, 80% of economic development must come from local resources. To increase jobs / revenues we must build from what we have: I’d start with 1) our arts community and 2) the potential of a revitalized Antioch College. I’d look at Berea College’s development of sustainable entrepreneuriship in cooperation with the community. We have the resources and can do more to attract / develop smart, ecofriendly, local production within our village.

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