And the race is on! Looks like I have my first opponent. Conventional wisdom tells me I’m supposed to feel competitive about this, but I can’t get down with all that partisanship sniping. I’m running my own race. My job is to present myself, and my vision for Billings, to as many people as possible; your job is to vote. ❤️ Here’s three reasons:
1. Public safety. Year-by-year, crime rates are increasing. The solution is not as simple as throwing more money at police, though the actual safety budget also needs to be addressed. But “safety of the public” is a wide-ranging issue, encompassing the city’s opioid, meth, and suicide epidemics alongside discrimination, the missing and murdered indigenous women’s movement, the human trafficking task force, and the downtown core’s lack of both affordable and sober housing. Perhaps more than any other single issue, public safety affects how we “feel” walking our streets, which affects where we go, how we spend our money, and who chooses to move to Billings in the first place.
2. Downtown revitalization. The downtown has come a long way since I was a kid, but approximately 1/3rd of the buildings still have vacant commercial space, and that proportion isn’t changing. The core hasn’t seen a major development project in 33 years and the SouthSide doesn’t even have a grocery store. No single business or entity can solve all the revitalization and public safety issues facing the downtown—these are city issues that require city solutions.
3. Diversifying the council. Including the mayor, 11 people vote on the council: 9 are men, 2 women. Age is similarly weighted toward the upper end of the average human life span. These demographics do not match those of the population in Billings, and that’s problematic. Problematic because it means that issues important to a whole segment of the population often go wholly unaddressed. Problematic because we all have different life experiences to offer, but we can only do so if we’ve got a seat at the table.
I’ll be spending a good chunk of the summer walking ward 1, knocking doors and taking names. Sometimes my kids will be with me. Feet on the pavement, I have legs and enthusiasm for the city I know Billings can be. “Knock, knock,” I’ll say. “My name’s Kendra Shaw. Can we talk about what City Council does and and why it matters for your family?”