QUESTION: What are the top three issues the city faces? How would you address them?
ANSWER: Over the last two decades Economic Development has been our community’s top strategic goal. Moving into the future, it still is a strategic goal, but the nature of Economic Development has changed. For years Economic Development was practiced using a model of attracting and retaining large employers. And by most standards Troy competed very well in attracting foreign investment and even domestic relocations into the community.
Now the strategy is beginning to change; instead of attracting and retaining the employer, we are looking at attracting and retaining the employee. Right now on the Troy Career Connect website, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of positions that are open looking for employees at all skill levels. These businesses have critical needs for employees and developing a community that is attractive to employees will be key in moving our community forward.
And of course all of this is happening in an environment of low unemployment. That is why working with employees with barriers is becoming a larger priority. Working with those that have such barriers can open up a world of new opportunities for those individuals by having them become the employees that our businesses need. That is why programs such as the “Rides to Work” program from the Miami County Continuum of Care is very important; if elected, I will continue to work to see our city continue to work with the non-profit sector and the private sector to meet the needs of those that need jobs with the businesses that have jobs.
A second issue that is continually discussed as I talk to voters is heroin. From my own observation, it seems that a significant portion of our community has a deep and personal connection to someone that has been impacted by heroin. Even if we don’t know someone personally, we are all familiar with the places where we read that heroin overdoses are taking place. This drug has saturated our community. And even worse, the drugs are being “cut” or added with other drugs. Fentanyl, carfentanyl and even medications like percocet, are being added to heroin or taken alone, often with fatal results.
In reality, there is little a city government can do alone to fight heroin; rather it takes a community wide effort. It takes the non-profit sector, local houses of worship, government, health care and advocates to work together. One of the things that is going right in our community is our QRT (Quick Response Team) where our first responders, treatment professionals and members of local churches reach out to those that have overdosed to get them the help they need.
It’s critical to understand that our addiction providers, criminal justice officials and even local officials are working in an environment where access to resources are scarce. Looking at the Governor’s proposed two-year budget, the tools and the money to fight this addiction is flat-funded while the crisis facing our community just gets worse.
If elected, I will work with our city administration and other communities to talk to our State and Federal Representatives and Senators both within and outside our district to tell our community’s story and work hard to secure resources to help those on the front line battling these addictions each and every day.
The third issue I think about in our community is the civic capacity of our community. Programs like Leadership Troy help and are quite successful, but there are more proactive activities that the city can do to help promote the next generation of city leaders.
For example, one of the more innovative programs I helped develop in Piqua was our Government Academy. Through this program, we gave residents a series of hands-on experiences that allowed participants to have a better understanding of how local government works. Our program was recognized as best practice and received calls from across the country wanting to know how our program worked
From that program, Piqua saw some amazing outcomes; there was an interest to start a non-profit corporation to help provide improvements to the city park system, neighborhood associations came together to help combat blight on their streets, participants even became candidates and won seats on the City Commission.
If elected, I will work tirelessly to improve civic engagement in our community by looking at innovative programs that other communities are using to engage residents.