Transparency in government and empowered citizens
The County needs to find better ways to communicate their plans to the residents. Too often the residents are completely suprised by some project that has been in the works for years. The Open Meetings Act has never been enough, it allows people to attend the board meetings but who can attend them all? It also requires meeting minutes to be published but these minutes are so general you have no way of knowing what is happening from them. News articles are sparce and the newspaper is becoming extinct. Technology today allows us to subscribe to news feeds and facebook pages. The government ought to use technology to make sure everyone with internet access is well informed. At the beginning of each new board term, the board ought to publish a brief summary of every open project. Then, as progress is made on these projects, that technology ought to used to update the public. They could do this with their FaceBook page but instead they only use it for Public Service Announcements. Today, if you want to know what's going on in your government you need to start by reading the entire master plan, having meetins with every staff member to find out where we are in the project and then start attending every meeting in 10 different boards. (zoning, planning, capital improvements, County Board of commissioners, etc...) Technology should be used to be more transparent so a resident can stay informed.
Education - the foundation of economic development
Kalamazoo needs to focus on helping our schools teach skills that are useful in the workplace. We need to encourage parents to be involved not only with their children but with the schools themselves, attending PTA meetings and helping establish the curiculum. Parents being involved in the school system is of the utmost importance. Kalamazoo County must destigmatize vocational school and skilled trades, and show students they can earn over $50,000/yr upon graduation from high school with no college debt.
Growth - the greatest force for change is a job
Kalamazoo needs to continue supporting economic development though good infrastructure, developing highly skilled talent and low property taxes.
I supported House Bill 4816 back in 2019 and it became law in 2020. Now Kalamazoo can build the Downtown Arena using hotel and motel visitor usage taxes and private donations.