What I Believe

 

Middletown needs a vision. Our city is thriving compared to many of our neighbors, but we aren’t doing enough to capitalize on our strengths or address our shortcomings. Being mayor isn’t just about the day-to-day business of City Hall. It’s about listening, being proactive, solving problems creatively, and being a champion for our community—both who we are today, and who we want to be tomorrow.

That’s why, when it comes to the issues we face, I’m less concerned about the next four years than the next forty years. Here are some ideas I have to make Middletown’s future as bright as it can be. (Got some ideas of your own? I’d love to hear about them.)

 

The Issues

 

+ outstanding public schools

We’ve always had great teachers and great students—and even if it’s belated, we’re investing in the right things, like a new middle school and a groundbreaking plan for innovation and equity.

But whether it’s perception or reality, school quality remains a major reason that young families leave Middletown for places like West Hartford. It’s time to turn that around. I’ll work collaboratively with the Board of Education and Superintendent to make sure our kids have the resources they need to succeed.

+ A Riverfront for all

The revitalization of Middletown’s riverfront has been “just around the corner” for over a decade now; I remember participating in community vision workshops back when I was a student. Years later, we still don’t have a real plan for our city’s most underutilized asset.

To get this right, it’s going to take creative leadership, community input, and thoughtful planning. Selling off our riverfront for flashy, large-scale projects isn’t the way to go. Middletown’s riverfront belongs to all of us. Public access, recreational options, and smart, forward-looking development is what our residents deserve—and it’s better economic policy, too.

+ Jobs & economic development

With a AAA bond rating and a thriving business district, Middletown's economy is the envy of many of our neighbors. But we must be conscious of the types of business we are attracting in Middletown, not just the number of ribbons being cut. And especially on Main Street, we need to be proactive about working with small business owners and making sure they can afford to stay in Middletown once they choose our city.

+ A cleaner, greener city

Middletown has an opportunity to lead the state in sustainability initiatives and help usher in the livable future that we owe to our kids and to ourselves. We need to set ambitious short-, medium-, and long-term sustainability goals and work aggressively to meet them in ways that improve quality of life for residents from day one. We can start by creating new youth environmental initiatives, improving access to transportation options beyond cars, creating incentives for homeowners and renters to reduce their environmental footprint, and ensuring that our riverfront is not just resilient to the changing climate, but designed to actively help reverse its effects.

+ Parks & open spaces

Just like our riverfront, Middletown's parks and open spaces are outstanding assets on paper-- and, like the riverfront, their potential is still unmet. New playgrounds and athletic facilities paid for by our parks bond represent outstanding progress, but those dollars must also be used to improve existing facilities in all neighborhoods of the city. And our amazing array of recreational trails, open spaces, community-supported farms, and other natural assets need to go from being best-kept secrets to defining traits. Accessible public spaces and outdoor recreation options are central to anyone's definition of quality of life-- and not only is it the right thing to do, it will increase property values and support economic activity as well.

+ effective, inclusive government

Residents need to be able to interact with the City of Middletown in a way that makes them feel respected and heard. The only real way to accomplish that over time: electing leaders who actually respect and hear them.

I'll host weekly outreach events in every part of the city to make sure that people can reach me, implement digital accountability tools so that residents can report city issues from anywhere and receive a response, and appoint qualified, active members of the community to serve on boards and commissions. Everyone has a right to responsive representation and civic engagement.

+ Downtown & the north end

Downtown Middletown has undergone an extraordinary revitalization-- it's made our city a destination for people from all over the state. But with rents rising and critical needs going unmet, residents and businesses alike are struggling in ways city government has not addressed in a meaningful way. If we don't keep our eye on the ball and start treating downtown like a vibrant neighborhood in addition to a place to visit, its renaissance will be short-lived.

New construction projects alone aren't the answer. We need an active strategy to create a downtown that works for everyone: pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, adequate and affordable parking, filling market gaps and empty storefronts, and making it possible to live and work downtown without a car by recruiting a grocery store, cultivating public spaces, and promoting quality housing options while holding bad landlords accountable.

+ Social, racial, & economic justice

Middletown is a diverse, progressive city, and our leadership should reflect that in word and deed. When a city government collaborates with allies in the private and non-profit sectors, and solicits input from community stakeholders, the resulting partnership can be a force for transformative change. Below are some of my priorities for making Middletown a more just and equitable place-- a list that will grow with input from you, because nothing like this can be done alone. No long shots or pipe dreams here: towns just like us have accomplished these things, without burdening taxpayers, and so can we.

  • A civilian review board with the power to ensure positive community relations between residents and the Middletown Police Department
  • High-quality affordable housing, achieved in part through accountability and enforcement for absentee landlords and improvements to existing housing stock
  • Expanded youth programming, including after school, job training and placement, and youth street outreach
  • Seed funding and mentorship for entrepreneurs and leaders pursuing ventures (local businesses or non-profits) that contribute to community vibrancy and economic growth
  • Parterships with grocery stores, restaurants, and community agriculture to establish a food rescue program to address food insecurity and hunger