Since coming to office, I’ve voted to extend public employee bargaining contracts, fund small businesses affected by the floods of 2016, lower property taxes, and pass two balanced budgets with no levy rate increases. In addition, I’ve co-authored a report on youth gun violence and systemic poverty. I’ve been busy, but this is the job of an elected official and it is the type of leadership that Linn County residents deserve.
Two years ago, I ran for office to the Linn County Board of Supervisors promising to elevate the conversation around economic opportunity for all people. I believe I’ve delivered on that promise. This is a critical mission of government. We must help the most vulnerable, we should facilitate growth of private enterprise, solve problems small and large, and outside of that, we should stay out of the way of the ambitious, serving as a referee to prevent harm.
This is the kind of government and community I’ve come to admire, having benefited from a system that helped my family when we needed it the most. I was born to a single mother who was murdered when I was four years old. I went on to live with my grandmother, who was also a single parent. She went to college in her fifties and trained to become a nurse. We grew up in government-subsidized housing in the Oakhill Jackson neighborhood. We were taught to work hard, treat others with respect, and to make the most of what we earned. To paraphrase the author Henry James, we were taught to work in the dark, do what we could, and to give all we had to what believed in. These ethics inform the foundation of my political philosophy. Too often, our politics is reduced to a battle between “us versus them.” This is not about race or partisan politics. This is not about young versus old. This is about our future.
When Mr. Houser was first elected to office, I was just two years old. The demolition of the Berlin Wall was just getting underway, gas prices were just over a dollar, and the world had yet to hear those famous words, “You’ve Got Mail,” the tagline of a relatively unknown company called America Online, which would soon bring dial-up internet into homes across the country. The times, they are changing and so must our leadership.
This is a consequential election. In just two years, we have wrestled with a wide variety of important issues. We sought a fair wage for working people because our state legislature refused to act. We continued our work to curb an opioid epidemic by arming law enforcement with lifesaving medications and directing our public health department to further investigate preventive measures. We continue to troubleshoot issues with programs that assist individuals with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, all while running the second largest county government in the state. These problems will not go away, and without dynamic leadership at the helm, they will only grow.
Our community is in the midst of change. This change demands more from our leaders. It’s not enough to keep the seat warm. We must be out in the community, convening conservations on the hard issues, shepherding activism into meaningful policy and encouraging the next generation of leaders to find their voice and their cause. The challenges of our times require us to look beyond relics of the past. Instead, we must train our eyes on the promise of a brighter future. On June 5, I humbly request your vote for a full term in office.
• Stacey Walker is a candidate for Linn County Supervisor.