Oct 20, 2009 Walt Shepperd Uncategorized
The following comments are excerpts from Q&As each candidate had with Walt Shepperd during the campaign season:
I am somebody who is very interested in ideas, making decisions and making change, and I’m not somebody who shies away from controversy or taking risks. Sometimes to my detriment I run toward that. Given that in Syracuse we’re at a defining moment, what we need is to embrace change, embrace fresh thinking, and to a certain extent take risk. That’s what I bring to this race. I have that ability to articulate a rationale, to articulate a direction that we need to move in, and also to bring people together and say we can not look backward to our future, we need to look forward, and that means we need to think about what Syracuse can be, not what it was.
I think this community is tired of backroom deals. They want accountability, and what I have always said is that you only get accountability by asking tough questions in public. We’re only going to get the best solutions to our problems, and the most innovative ideas, by discussing it in public. Because if backroom deals and backroom ideas were the savior of our community we wouldn’t have the problems that we have. That makes some people uncomfortable because there are sacred cows who have done very well in backroom deals. Those are not the people or the interests I represent.
We have a proud history of innovation in this community. Somewhere in the last 30 years we got off track. The times demand innovation.
I knocked on two to three thousand doors to get the input. Many times it was safety, security and crime. We know. But it’s really brought home to you when you’re standing on somebody’s front porch, and the door is open and they say they don’t feel comfortable walking out onto the street at 8 o’clock at night.
Another one was jobs. The economy. We have a very poor city in terms of opportunity for employment. We’ve got to find ways to build the economy. I’ll start with the smallest denominator. There are many ethnicities here who have an entrepreneurial spirit, who want to start a business. I propose that we find ways of getting over high insurance costs, bonding costs. I propose we take $10 million of the $20 million left of the surplus and create a venture capital fund, which is used to jump start businesses.
Take the Westside Initiative. That community has really banded together. Why not do the training that would get individuals in that community to a point where they can be put to work right inside that community.
We need to bring all our neighborhoods up, and I’m talking about the poorest neighborhoods. We have a city of very distinct neighborhoods, that have very distinct levels of income, of ability to raise children, of ability to provide for families. As a manager, and a leader, and a mayor we need to approach these neighborhoods, each one, and find a way to benchmark them and bring them up.
I say, Go Destiny. Destiny gave some inner-city people jobs at $60,000 a crack, and trained them to be skilled laborers. It’s critical that we get this spirit of working together, collaboration. I’m Action Jennings. I will get it done. And I have a track record to prove it. Clinton Square, I was there from start to finish. And 35 other major capital projects, over 60 major and minor, completed in the city. We have to get things done, and we have to create jobs, jobs, jobs in order to make the city what it’s capable of becoming.
One thing I would do, work with the Chamber of Commerce to put together a group of small businesspeople to address small business needs. Part of an economic development would be to survey the small businesses downtown. There’s no need for all these stores if you don’t have bodies downtown. If you get people in the city, supportive services follow.
We have to move toward consolidating and sharing services with the county. But first we have to get the confidence of the people that we can get things done. We have to create jobs. We have to graduate students. We can make government smaller through attrition, through looking at every line item to see if you really need a person in that position.
Our city is hurting right now. The young people in the city are hurting. We need to reestablish how we do government.