Ricketts/My Turn: Let me be Precinct 5's voice on council

Thanks to many in Precinct 5, I am one step closer to becoming your councilor. I can list my credentials and prove that I pay attention but I’m not a stranger to you. Instead, let me explain where I stand on the issues and how I feel about our community.

I’m hoping to be part of a council that will tackle important issues. Like many of you, I am a member of the working class with limited means at my disposal. I want to know that my local government is actively and consistently addressing ways to lower tax bills, properly educate our children, keep the streets safe and welcome new businesses to our community. I have heard some councilors and candidates say the focus should be on the arts. While important, I know far too many people are looking for work and far too many sending their children to schools outside of our district. Grandparents now have custody of their grandchildren. Their retirement money is now earmarked to raise another generation and will not be enough to support them as planned. We have teens looking for their first job competing against people who were employed 15 to 20 years who suddenly finding themselves unemployed. Severance packages and early retirement benefits are just not enough. These are the people I represent. These are the issues I want to talk about as a councilor. We can still talk about the arts but let’s get our priorities in line.

I fully support the newest master plan and appreciate the work that went into it’s creation. My hope is to see the smaller projects not needing funding put in place first. Larger goals may need more community discussion and perhaps research from our boards.

We live in a strong volunteer community. Volunteers are a large part of our government. For this to continue, I would urge our government to be open to people from all parts of Greenfield. The more diverse, the better the city will become. We need more voices and not all like thinkers.

Some councilors need to understand the role of the various boards and committees as established by charter. We cannot amend and erode the system of checks and balances very thoughtfully put in place when our charter was written because it fits an agenda.

Lately, some council members talk a lot about transparency. The council needs to fully understand what this means. Open and public meetings are one thing. They are required by law. Small groups of councilors meeting behind closed doors is not transparent government.

I want the citizens of Precinct 5 to truly know where I stand on all issue and how I got to my decision. I welcome the accountability.

I want to hear more from the Opioid Task Force at a full council level. The heroin problem needs to be one of the top priorities. As a councilor, I will do whatever is asked to support the task force, Greenfield Police Department or any other organization in need of our support. While this is not just a Greenfield issue, there is no reason Greenfield can’t be a leader in finding a solution.

While we continue to argue about the French King project, Main Street businesses are faced with crime, drugs/alcohol, loitering, parking and, of course, the current use of plastic bags. While it seems this issue has gone away, I would venture a guess it will be back. A thoughtful approach is needed to address this issue. For example a “Bring your own tote bag” campaign. Possibly a business sponsor who would donate tote bags for those who could not afford the extra expense would be an option. You can have a tote bag donation center. I know I have plenty of extras. Before banning plastic bags (or anything for that matter) we must put ourselves in the business owners’ shoes and work slowly toward the best outcome.

At the end of the day, I expect the council to accomplish a great deal of good work. Important work. There will always be time for leaf-blowing ordinances but the time is ticking on the big stuff. I want to be a part of the council not afraid to take on the “big stuff.” I’m more concerned with the possibility of our city buying properties. I’m also concerned with current owners taking care of properties before it’s in such disrepair we feel it’s our obligation to step in.

The council should make a real impact on the lives of every citizen, That is why I ask the voters of Precinct 5 for your support. When the big box store and a new high school were on the ballot, your voices were heard loud and clear. It is time again to be heard. Vote Penny Ricketts, Precinct 5 councilor. Let’s make this your council.

Penny Ricketts is a candidate for the Greenfield Town Council.

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