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Striving for an Inclusive Newark

Tonight, after Council dealt with a short list of ordinances and resolutions, I gave the following remarks:

"Governing a city is hard. You’ve got a population of thousands with almost as many different demands and concerns. In addition to the plethora of requests for action, you have to deal with budget limitations and a care-free state government which isn’t always supportive in making sure that your constituents gets everything they need. The last thing you need is to compound all of these problems with a narrow-minded focus.

How about a suggestion? Recognize and appreciate that there are limited intellectual resources in this room. That isn’t to say that none of you are capable of imagining some creative solutions, but my opinion is that we would be better off to proactively reach out to the people for the solutions they have in mind. Ultimately, the city of Newark would be better off if our policymaking was all-inclusive.

That also entails listening to the groups of citizens who’ve had disagreements with council. Yes, controversial issues have created bad blood in the past, but we are all in this together and partisanship should not supersede the obligation of this government to serve the interests of all. Besides, opening your hearts and minds to the input of people with a different take on life can and will give you a perspective that you probably never considered. If you are of the opinion that politics absolutely has to be a zero-sum game with winners and losers then I am here to tell you that the time has come to find another job. In a democracy, no debate is ever truly over unless it pertains to human rights; and even then a society’s focus shifts to the expansion of said rights.

Our focus should always be on how to move forward, together. The means by which we maintain this focus is by remembering our common fate. Citizens of differing political affiliations do not experience the city’s challenges differently. We all drive on these roads, depend on our safety forces, and are required to abide by the same ordinances. So, it makes sense that the shaping of public policy ought to reflect this unity of consequences with an attempt to foster an open exchange of ideas involving all those with something to offer.

Let us extend a hand to one another and work on the extensive list of concerns that the people would like to see addressed. Let’s find workable compromises to repeal outdated and harmful laws once and for all so that innocent citizens can get back to enjoying life instead of fearing that they will face the justice system. Let us explore all of our options in finding the funds we need to pave our streets. Let us come together, respect the bargaining process, and have a discussion as to what it will take to give Newark’s safety forces the support they need to offer the best protection possible for this city. Finally, let us resolve that we are not content with and are determined to confront an economic reality which condemns a group of our fellow citizens to a life of everlasting poverty.

With all of this talk about making “America great again” too many of us forget that the best way for us to do so is by first focusing on our cities, towns, and villages. This country will not prosper until communities like Newark are healthy, engaged, and primed to work as one. We can lead the way forward by inspiring others with our unity and determination to rise above the challenges placed before us. Regardless of what happens in just under a month, I hope that a more inclusive and successful future lies ahead."

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