Residents Should Be Excited By New City Visions

Mayor Eddie Sundquist and Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2 and new City Council president, come from different political parties, have an age difference of a couple of decades and come to their respective offices this year with vastly differing amounts of experience in elected office.

At this point in the city’s history, though, they are inextricably linked. Sundquist needs Dolce, and Dolce needs Sundquist, too.

The City Council has traditionally taken a low-key role in city affairs, approving initiatives driven by the mayor’s office. Dolce made clear Wednesday that the council stands ready to work with Sundquist and his team while also being more active than it has been in years past. Take note that Dolce mentioned the council’s role in policy issues regarding the police and fire departments, policy initiatives to improve city neighborhoods and rental housing.

That is a departure, in many respects, from the way the council has operated publicly for the past several years and would be a welcome change.

While Dolce has a vision of an active City Council, Sundquist painted a vision of an administration that seeks to be innovative in solving the city’s problems while unlocking the creativity and compassion of the city’s residents to build on the work of Mayor Sam Teresi’s administration. Jamestown still finds itself struggling in a new global economy. Manufacturing jobs that once provided enough income to allow families to sustain themselves have been replaced by lower-paying retail or tourism jobs that require people to work more than one job to make ends meet. The changing economy has resulted in a poverty rate of 29% in Jamestown. Non-profits in Jamestown have been working collaboratively to decrease poverty in the city, but their best efforts will still take decades to make a statistical difference in the city’s poverty rate.

Sundquist’s inaugural speech Wednesday was about inspiration, not details. Those details will begin coming when Sundquist gives his first State of the City address later this month after having a few weeks to review the results of four community participation sessions held in December and formulate a plan with his transition team. It was noteworthy that Sundquist’s speech touched on the role innovation and risk taking played in building Jamestown while also touching on the compassion Jamestown residents display on a regular basis. All three will be needed during Sundquist’s time as mayor. Development is painstaking work that sometimes takes years to materialize. It was good to see Sundquist touch on the need to help those who are struggling while the city tries to stake out a strategy that brings higher-wage jobs and tax base back into the city.

Wednesday was a day for vision and inspiration. Both Dolce and Sundquist laid out visions for their offices that should excite city residents. On Monday, the work of governing begins in earnest.