Letter to the Editor: Support Mayor Gayle and her Vision on Redevelopment, Sustainability and the Arts – a Big Win for Highland Park

To the Editor:

Here in Highland Park on June 4th, we have a Mayoral primary with a challenger in an election with no statewide or national candidates to drive turnout.  Monique Coleman may not be a name you know, but she has a very dedicated and passionate group of supporters.  She is also completely wrong for the office, and we cannot afford to let complacency keep the rest of home on June 4th.  Here’s why.  A single issue insurgency campaign, even with a political novice at the helm, is a very dangerous time for any incumbent, and we have a Mayor who needs us to thank her for a successful first term by delivering votes for her as well as Phil George and Matt Hale for Council in column B.

Vote for Mayor Gayle because she is right on results and on process, and her opposition falls well short on both counts.  First, results.  The Mayor has made steady and concrete progress on redevelopment, sustainability, and the arts while holding the line on taxes.  The opposition campaign is running a single-issue campaign focused on equity.  I think we can all agree that decreasing explicit and implicit bias and increasing fairness should be the goal of every single one of us.  However, even in this arena, the Mayor far outpaces her challenger on results.  She has extended community policing and mentoring programs, opened the new teen center, created a school lunch aid fund, extended affordable housing, and created an equity commission to dedicate work on these issues. Her opponent has no real record of accomplishing anything in the realm of equity during her school board term, so why should we propel her to a higher office based on an ineffective record in a lower level role? Town policy is not made on wishes, it is made through real work, the kind of work the Mayor has demonstrated that she performs everyday on our behalf.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, process.  There is a way to work collaboratively through tough issues like equity and bias with multiple stakeholders and there is a way to act in a counterproductive fashion that stalls progress.  The opposition claims that the Mayor has not done enough to work with the equity commission, the very same equity commission the Mayor started.  In fact, the Mayor has done everything in her power to include them in discussions around racial bias and hiring and only drew the line on letting them participate to an extent that would be illegal.  Their main talking point appears to be that the Mayor should have broken the law in order to let them have a larger say in town decisions. We already have a President who believes in breaking the law to get what he wants. I don’t need a Mayor like that too.

Do we really want to ignore taxes, development, arts, and sustainability in favor of hoping that somehow the challenger can magically fix the entrenched historical, political, and social issue of equity and bias without doing any real collaborative outreach to all stakeholders? She can’t fix it with her approach, nor should we eschew our other priorities to let her try.  The Mayor deserves our trust on the issue of equity as well as every other issue, so let’s thank her by giving her a second term.

Sincerely,

Tim MacKinnon, South Second and Benner

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