After requisite soul-searching and vigorous discussions with my better half, I have decided to run for Antioch City Council. It was a tough decision.
Firstly, I respect and like my colleagues on the school board. I will sorely miss them and the transformational work we’ve undertaken.
Secondly, challenging times as they are for education, city governance is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Why, then, run? Well, the school board seems on pretty firm footing governance-wise. It boasts district-wide academic performance increases (API) in seven of the last eight years and is a state trailblazer on small career-based learning academies.
On the other hand, the council is losing three-termer Brian Kalinowski. It could conceivably lose yet another member, contingent on the mayor’s race. Given a shortage of some 30 sworn police officers, a budget down from $47 million to $34 million, and a tattered image as the capital of smoke shops, the city is at a crossroads. It can’t afford a leadership misstep.
I think I offer a blend of tested governance skills, balanced temperament and fresh, independent perspective. I get along without always going along and seamlessly work with all stripes. Civilly stirring the pot with questions and imagination comes naturally to me.
Importantly, my wife and I also live by the motto: without fear or favor; not bullied or bought. What you see is what you get; I run on my own merits and bow to no political machines, rigid ideologies or agendas.
Why announce now? Frankly, I want to give plenty of notice for those interested in replacing me on the board.
I started my public service 44 years ago teaching English for the Peace Corps in an electricity-less village in Turkey. I have traditional core values and appreciate a smaller, more hospitable Antioch but realize we can’t turn back the clock. We need forward-thinking, can-do vision and a cosmopolitan approach of modeling best practices from other towns that have navigated explosive growth.
My approach is fundamentals. I want to see Antioch once again a destination and not a departure point. My motivation comes from growing up in Great Neck, Long Island, where people would drop a note at your door asking you to call them if you ever moved. Getting a home there was that desirable, with low crime and a nationally top-10 rated school district.
My agenda will be reduced crime, particularly runaway burglaries; revitalizing a demoralized business climate and city services; and regulating rentals and combating blight.
We have so many blessings, from our myriad good citizens to our notable community center, El Campanil Theatre, historical museum, churches, schools, parks, adjacent river, mountain, undulating streets and hills. Yes, we have had some severe bumps on our road but Antioch’s journey holds such promise.
Call me at 925-756-7628 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your improvement ideas.
I accept this challenge with gusto and would be honored by your support in a quest for the Antioch we all dream of.
Walter Ruehlig, Antioch