The most important message of my campaign is that our city is capable of achieving audacious goals when we work together. I was inspired by the Dandelion Project, a community project underway in Guernsey, a tiny island nation in the English Channel. Everyone that lives in Guernsey is part of the Dandelion Project, which has one, honkin’ big audacious goal: Make Guernsey the best place to live on the PLANET by 2020.
One of the audacious goals for the city of Canandaigua that I am noodling on is the elimination of poverty. According to City-Data.com, 22% of Canandaigua’s residents have incomes below the poverty level, and 15% of them are children. Of the poorest, those living below half of the poverty level, 16.6% are 16-17 years old. We beat the State of New York on that one: statewide the rate is 9.8%.
Poverty is a complicated problem (obvi, I’m aware), and it’s “sticky” to boot: kids who grow up in poverty are likely to remain in poverty as adults. But poverty is a cycle, and cycles can be broken. What are the interventions that our city government can facilitate and/or deliver that can help break the cycle for the kids and young adults in our community specifically? Just some of the ideas that occur to me are:
- Municipal and traffic fines based on income
- Municipal projects that include employment and volunteer opportunities for poor youth
- Enhanced summer and after-school recreational programming for teens and young adults
Eliminating youth poverty in Canandaigua may sound over-reaching and quixotic, but tackling problems like these is my vision for what effective and engaged city government should and can work on. If I get the chance to represent you on Council, it will be.
Do you have some ideas about how city government can address youth poverty? Drop me a line.