Pat Haley is running for the Wilmington mayor position at Tuesday’s Republican primary election.
Why should citizens vote for Pat Haley as mayor?
I have spent the last four months knocking on doors, visiting with people in their homes, and talking to citizens in the streets to learn their thoughts about our hometown of Wilmington.
I have listened to them. People tell me of their concerns that Wilmington has changed so dramatically from what it was even a few years ago.
Wilmington is a diverse city, opening its doors and hearts to people moving in from outside the area, and we have welcomed them. We are a better community for it.
However, some came from big cities and have become accustomed to crime and vagrancy issues, but it is alien to those of us who grew up here and knew a time when it was safe to walk the streets at night. Original families of the community, here for generations, remember this time of relative innocence. They want that city back.
Wilmington is a compassionate city. We also are a city made up of people raised with Midwestern values who know the difference between right and wrong. We know it is right caring for the needy. We know it is wrong when vagrants trespass on private property, steal a child’s bicycle off their front porch, use illegal drugs in public places, and after they finish their injections, discard needles in the playgrounds, parks and on the trails. We know they put our children at risk.
There is a malaise, a perception that is infecting our city right now.
It isn’t any one thing. It is a combination of issues that concern our citizens. Petty crime issues and quality-of-life issues are at the forefront of citizens’ minds. A new leader needs to step-up and solve these concerns. As a former two-term Clinton County Sheriff, I have the law enforcement background, with training at the FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia, to address the crime problems. I will begin work at once with local law enforcement to stop public drug use, theft, and crime in our community.
The answer is leadership. As a former two-term Clinton County Commissioner, I have the government experience of addressing other issues currently facing the city. And importantly, I have the political will to remedy these problems.
It is my goal to make Wilmington safe, clean, and accessible while growing downtown businesses.
A leader must be present and invested in knowing the problems a community face. I will be an engaged leader who is in the office on every workday. I will replace absentee leadership.
I grew up in Wilmington. I love Wilmington. Wilmington historically has been a successful and thriving community, a community where it was fun to walk downtown and visit with our neighbors. We can and will be that city again.
What are the biggest issues facing the city today?
1. The number one issue people have mentioned to me is the vagrancy problem, asking what specifically I would do to deal with the issue. If elected, I would work with the Police Department to implement the Broken Windows thesis, a practice I implemented as Clinton County Sheriff.
The “Broken Windows” thesis states that something as simple as a building with a broken window signals abandonment, a lax attitude toward property, and therefore an absence of respect for the law.
Over time, other evidence of decay will show up – more broken windows, trash accumulation, and drug deals. The change is slow and imperceptible to the citizens. Left unrepaired, the initial broken window slowly but surely turns into many broken windows.
Inevitably, the area will attract people involved in panhandling, crime and encampments – and all become part of the regular activities, which then spreads. Neighboring residents start to feel vulnerable and begin to withdraw.
Sensing the withdrawal, the petty criminals become bolder and intensify their drug dealing, thefts and vandalism. This atmosphere then attracts new offenders from outside the area, who sense that the neighborhood is a less risky site for crime. The cycle that started with one broken window has spiraled downward, resulting in a broken community.
The chief of police aggressively pursued the law breakers, but he received criticism for going after the so-called “petty” criminals. “Who cares about panhandlers, vandals, drug users, after all they are homeless. They don’t hurt anyone.” The reality is – they do hurt people. They can ruin the quality-of-life and lower property values.
2. Other issues in Wilmington are traffic flow on Rombach Avenue and parking downtown. Many citizens feel city government created problems when none existed. They want real, long-term solutions. They are frustrated with the 4 words. “No turn on red.” As mayor, I would review these issues.
3. Scandals have also become a prevalent topic of concern in the minds of citizens. As mayor, I will address this issue by strengthening hiring practices, conducting extensive pre-employment background investigations, bolster employee training and provide strong leadership.
4. Another area of concern is the ability for taxpayers to take part in local government. No citizen has the right to disrupt city council’s ability to conduct the people’s business and can be removed when they become unruly or disruptive. However, government must not prevent those whose viewpoints the government finds annoying, distasteful, or unpopular. The First Amendment’s guarantees are very clear, protecting the citizens’ freedom of speech. As Mayor, I will support the First Amendment rights.
If elected, what do you plan to accomplish in your first 30 days? In your first 90 days?
My goal as mayor within the first 30 days is to bring a renewed spirit to city hall. We currently live in a divided city. Social media is ripe with division. Our council chamber has been invaded by bitterness and suspicion. I want to replace absentee leadership with daily commitment. I want to establish administrative guidelines that are both clear and articulate, and written to serve the people of our community.
Any organization that is administratively sound is a successful organization. Wilmington has a good, effective workforce. As an experienced leader, I want our city employees to know there will be open communication, fairness, appreciation and transparency. Employees should be evaluated regularly, for them to know they are valued and respected. I plan to lead by example. I will ride with the police. I will ride with the fire and life squad personnel. I will ride the transit. I will visit all the various departments. While honoring the chain of command, it is vital for the mayor to know what is going on in city hall and the city.
My first thirty days will be spent building strong communications, building a sense of trust, strengthening professionalism, reinforcing a customer service, and getting to know the personnel.
During the first 90 days I want to ensure our transit system is safe, clean, and staffed with polite, courteous employees who are good communicators. An Amazon employee rides the transit to the Air Park daily. He gets off work after the transit system stops operation. He walks back to Wilmington every night regardless of weather. That is unacceptable. We need to have a unit on call that can respond after hours to customers in these situations. As mayor I will bring a fresh approach to the operation of the transit system.
I want the downtown to blossom and grow. One of my first orders of business is to bring the various downtown organizations together to find ways to revitalize our historic downtown, and to help them with the resources they need.