If you're anything like me, you're probably planning to be glued to the TV or computer today, closely tracking the outcome of the presidential race. But there's so much more that's worth paying attention to than simply the national races.
We've been proud to see several of our readers and members utilizing Strong Towns principles in their platforms as they run for local office. Strong Towns is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, so we're not endorsing any candidates, of course. But we're glad to see our members and readers taking action in their communities by running for public office. Three Strong Towns members are currently running for city council:
Matthias Leyrer is a long-time Strong Towns member and regular contributor to our web content. This summer, he decided to run for city council in his town of North Mankato, MN, inspired in no small part, by his involvement with Strong Towns. In an interview, he explained:
There are really simple things we could do to make [North Mankato] great—incremental things—and I think that’s what really fires me up. There’s always talk of the next greatest, humungous thing to come to town that “surely will solve all our problems” but it’s the often ignored, often far simpler things that need a champion. That’s why I’m running.
Josef Bray-Ali is a Strong Towns member and safe streets advocate who runs a bike shop in Los Angeles called Flying Pigeon LA. He’s currently running for the District 1 seat on the Los Angeles City Council (primary election in March 2017). Earlier this year, he wrote an article for Strong Towns, talking about his decision to run for office:
Why am I running? I live here, I want to do the work I see not being done in city hall, and I have a skill set that can get that work done. I'm not interested in the job; I'm interested in the work — the work of building safe streets and strong neighborhoods.
Dustin Foster is a Strong Towns member running for City Council in Redlands, CA. He currently works as a Transportation Planner for the California Department of Transportation in San Bernardino and his priorities if elected to city council include incubating local small businesses, making streets safe for vulnerable users, and developing vibrant communities. Learn more about Dustin.
Most recently, we also came across a candidate profile in a newspaper from the Minnesota Iron Range (where we hosted several events earlier this year). Melissa Scaia is running for county commissioner in 7th district of St. Louis County, MN. In her interview with the Hibbing Daily Tribune, she cited Strong Towns as a resource for "low-cost investment ideas." Strong Towns' visit to the Iron Range was able to catalyze many conversations about economic growth and we're pleased to see that the ideas we shared remain alive on the Range today.
Strong Towns members already in office
Several Strong Towns members currently hold elected office, including Beth Gehred who serves on the city council in Fort Atkinson, WI. (Read more about her leadership and election here.) Strong Towns member, Steve Arnold is also holding elected office in Wisconsin, as the Mayor of Fitchburg. Here's a story about how a local road funding conversation he started in his town began a statewide conversation. Numerous other Strong Towns members serve in local government in a variety of positions.
However you're feeling about today's election, don't forget that there are many local races where your vote can make a big difference. We invite you to consider which local candidates will be upholding Strong Towns principles in their time of leadership and, most importantly, to stay engaged and involved in local government and activism long after those races are over.
Let us know about elected officials in your communities who are standing up for Strong Towns principles.
(Top photo by PersonalIncome.org)