In the last couple years, Staunton’s city government has been plagued by both a lack of transparent operation and drama and partisan rancor that has prevented members from working together to get things done.
During Erik’s two terms on City Council, he always stood on the principle of transparent, open and responsive government that answered to ordinary citizens and not special interests. At the same time, he was able to work collegially across partisan lines to put effective government ahead of personalities.
If you send Erik back to City Hall this November, he will continue to fight to make sure that all of the City’s business is done out in the open where citizens can see, hear and participate in decision-making.
And Erik will also work to reduce dangerous partisanship and end the drama.
City council members will disagree on issues. That’s democracy. But petty personal attacks have no place in our local government. Citizens expect their elected representatives to put their personality conflicts aside and work together to solve problems. If elected, Erik will work hard to bring sanity back to City Hall.
When it operates properly, city government should provide basic local services, from education to street maintenance and public safety, at the highest quality and for the lowest cost.
On City Council, Erik opposed excessive tax rate increases, especially on property taxes, which hit Staunton families the hardest. If elected in November, Erik will continue to hold the line on tax increases while seeking creative ways to keep costs down and to find revenue from new sources especially through economic development.
In the council-manager model that we pioneered in Staunton more than a century ago, a model for local government that has spread across the globe since then, the role of an elected city council is to oversee appointed professional city managers who are chosen for the expertise they bring to their field.
The advantage of this system is good government that’s run efficiently. But placing so much authority in the hands of professionals can sometimes leave out the human element, essential to any place where people love to live as much as they do in Staunton.
Old-timers and newcomers alike are attracted to Staunton not just for good schools and low taxes but also for beauty, neighborliness and the opportunity to prosper. Government needs to be responsive to what citizens want and need, not just every two years at election time, but 365 days a year. Erik knows that City Council members are the representatives of the citizens in professional city government, and those elected voices ensure that citizens always have a say.