Together, we have created much progress in Harrisonburg in the last four years.
Downtown‘s development is the most exciting example of positive change, and there are many others: a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, an updated community Comprehensive Plan, a new central Harrisonburg School Board office, new road infrastructure, new economic and environmental initiatives, a new 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, new Veteran’s Memorial, new Welcome Home Garden, a new downtown member-owned grocery store, new online transparency tools to see what City Council is doing, and much more.
Considering we are just coming out of the worst economy since the 1930′s, it should also be noted what did NOT happen: no teacher or police layoffs, no significant reduction in services, and no significant rise in fees or taxes. While we delayed some maintenance and capital projects, and didn’t refill some vacated positions, Harrisonburg stayed financially strong and kept providing the most efficient and comprehensive set of services available to any City our size in the Commonwealth.
Why the progress in such tough times? First, the City’s administration, staff, and educators should be commended for their professionalism, talent, and resourcefulness – we’re lucky to have such a team making our local government work.
This progress is also due to a recurring theme during my first term on council: Harrisonburg’s past and current progress towards lasting and positive change has come from working together. Positive and lasting change comes from communication, collaboration, and planning. No single person or organization can make a difference alone. Our community is at its best where we are working together. When it comes to making decisions, not all interests always get what they want, but most deserve a fair hearing and the final decision is almost always more thoughtful due to the input of people who disagree.
Of course, there is more work to do. We have more jobs to create and businesses to grow, more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to implement, more costs to manage from unfunded state mandates, more opportunities to realize living in an ever more diverse community, more complexity to navigate with reaching a population of 50,000, more ways to involve a broader cross-section of the community in our decision-making processes, more decisions to make about the future of our downtown and economic centers, more arts and creativity to foster, and more threats to our environment and most vulnerable populations to anticipate and guard against.
I believe a critical role for City Council is to create an environment that allows and encourages businesses, nonprofits, institutions, and residents to pursue their individual goals for bettering themselves and their communities. Their effective and efficient pursuit of those goals depends in part on local government delivering critical services and programs and keeping those costs as low as possible.
I ask for your vote to continue being a partner with you in Harrisonburg’s continuing work towards being a safe, healthy, prosperous, and inspiring place to live and work.
If you support my being on Harrisonburg’s City Council, please considering donating financially, displaying a yard sign, and encouraging fellow voters to cast one of their three city council votes for Kai Degner on November 6, 2012.
Thank you for helping move Harrisonburg forward.