After several weeks of budget discussions with city council and community members, I want to thank all of you who called, emailed, shared, tweeted and testified in support of my proposed budget amendments. When I entered the budget conversation, I entered lockstep with you, the community.
I heard you loud and clear, and I want you to know that win or lose, it’s always been about making decisions that align with our values. I would not be true to myself and my value system if I didn’t do everything in my power to make sure we’re having public conversations when it comes to investing in our communities.
You’ve heard me say it dozens of times: the budget is a moral document. What it funds speaks to our values, and I want to add that how it’s created also speaks to our values. Members of the public and council only scratched the surface in discussions over where our money goes.
I’m incredibly disappointed council did not vote to save dozens of Parks jobs despite community-wide outcry over the cuts. Cutting jobs of the dedicated frontline workers and closing community centers is not how we support our people. Continuing to fund a police team that disproportionately targets people of color is not how we support our people.
In entering office, I promised to the community I’d bring you all with me. This was my first budget session, and I worked to make sure you all knew exactly where I stood with the many issues the city faces. While today city council voted ‘no’ to my suggested solutions, I truly believe that together we effectively changed the narrative of what it means to build a city budget.
While we did not get the votes today, I’m hopeful because the community, you all, showed up and stayed vigilant in keeping me and my colleagues accountable in upholding our values. It’s because of you all that council has finally had, in my opinion, the first open and honest conversation about what kind of city we want to be.
Jo Ann Hardesty