“Change is in OUR Hands”
In a recent private poll, 63% of those polled, when asked if Antioch was heading in the right direction, said no. 80% or more of them are “highly likely” voters in the upcoming election. This means that almost two thirds of the highest propensity voters are highly dissatisfied with the leadership of the city. This is in line with recent satisfaction studies regarding the California Legislature. Only 10% of voters are satisfied with their current elected legislators. This trend has only worsened in recent months, because of the inability of elected officials to make inroads on the state budget crisis brought on by the connection of bloated spending and reduced revenues. The politics of blame is all too familiar to most of us. There is a lack of responsibility and willingness to admit what got us here and what we really need to do to fix it.
In Antioch’s case, we reacted very slowly to the warning signs of the housing value downturn. We are a suburban city highly reliant on property tax valuations that have dropped well over 50%. We chose to deficit spend for the last 4 years instead of making early, prudent cuts in spending. Early cuts are less painful and less costly. They preserve essential services. The back drop to this avoidable situation is a 34% increase in violent crime in this same time period. Blight has increased while we argue over the merits of retail expansion. We have vacant nonproductive retail buildings littering our city. Graffiti has proliferated. Lawsuits are used a tool to diminish effective law enforcement and reward the so called victims. We are divided and rudderless.
Enough! It is time to get our bearings and unite. It is time to become one Antioch, a city that is not based on color, or economics or old versus new. It is time to excite our youth into service, respect and achievement. We must balance our budget with new realities, prioritize public safety, reduce crime and eliminate blight and decay. We should be the driver of new economic vitality based on the jobs of the future. We can partner to improve education, increase graduation rates and send more of our kids to college. This change is in OUR hands.
Start by choosing our leaders wisely. Consider whether they are headed in the direction of positive growth, a sense of responsibility and destiny, or more of the same. Then, get involved by volunteering to mentor young people, paint graffiti, pick up trash or coach a team! Advocate for visionary business development that encourages growth and opportunity. Support quality retail expansion that brings added tax revenues. Support waterfront redevelopment, preserving our water rights and support effective policing. Reducing crime is the best cure for low property tax values and anemic revenue growth!
Perhaps then we will become the Antioch we should be and can be! It’s OUR choice. It’s in OUR hands!