First, let me begin by thanking the Almighty Creator, through whom all things are possible and to whom I owe everything; second, let me thank the people of Plainfield for the trust, confidence and faith they have in me by returning me to this august body to do their will. Also, so that I may return safely into the household of the most important ladies in my life, I must thank my lovely wife, Amelia, and our beautiful daughters, Shermona and Ayisha, for standing by my side each and every step of this journey.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not express the joy I felt at being on the same ballot as new At-Large Councilwoman Annie McWilliams, the daughter of my late friend and former mayor, Albert T. McWilliams, and our President, Barack Obama.
When I decided in the spring of 2008 to run for the office of councilman of the 3rd Ward, it was at the urging of people who felt that I had a contribution to make to this city that we all love so much. Having served on the council previously and believing in the call to service, I felt compelled to answer the call.
For the next two months, along with my campaign team and a dedicated group of volunteers, I knocked on most of the doors of 3rd Ward residents and spoke with many of our citizens, most of whom voiced concerns about our city. Those concerns focused on quality of life issues, the terrible condition of our roads, ever increasing property taxes, and the apparent lack of transparency and accountability in government.
It is clear to me that we, as elected officials, cannot continue the same patterns of behavior and expect different results. We must be creative in our approaches and we must seek out innovative solutions to the challenges we face. All elected officials must be willing to make sacrifices and must be comfortable making the hard but necessary choices so that our government can be more efficient and cost effective. We as leaders must lead, and we must do so by example; we must be agents of transformational change.
I therefore propose the following:
1) I will decline all health benefits coverage from the city, for an annual savings to the city of $14,500; furthermore, I will not be accepting the opt-out cash payment. I encourage my colleagues to give this some consideration.
2) We must be professional and fair-minded in all that we do, and must work to restore confidence in local government through strong fiscal management that will lead to the elimination of waste and the creation of opportunities. To that end, let us incentivize existing businesses through the creation of legislation that will encourage them to expand their operations in the city, thereby creating additional jobs and expanding our commercial tax base.
These are but a few of the ideas that I would like this governing body to consider over the course of our next 100 days.
The time for us to act is now, the cause for which we must act is fair and just, and the reason for us to act is dollars and sense. We have a great opportunity to bring transformational change to the city of Plainfield, and we must embrace it. We must all tighten our belts and share in the fiscal sacrifices necessitated by today's harsh economic realities with prudent austerity measures.
In closing, let me leave you with this final thought. Just about five miles down the road south of us, the great Thomas Edison once remarked, “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Well, my fellow residents, it's time to tighten the straps of our collective overalls--opportunity awaits!
Thank you and may God bless you in this new year and always.