Before the last campaign season there wasn’t much discussion by our elected officials about the local drug problems in our community. The media had given a pass to Mayor Ness and Chief Ramsey and no one seemed to care that we were sweeping this under the rug. As long as we didn’t talk about it, it didn’t exist; and hopefully the tourists will keep coming.

Our Mayor-elect openly denied that there was an issue with drugs during our debates, going as far as to say there was no connection between Chicago and our heroin problem.  Sticking our heads in the sand will not help our community. As a new year begins with hopes for opportunity and improvement, let’s ask our city’s leadership to focus on these resolutions for 2016.

Resolution #1: Make Kids a Priority
For the last twelve years our city has let our youth down. The parks and rec department has been reduced to nearly defunct status. We have closed neighborhood centers and programs, leaving kids with nothing to keep them busy and out of trouble. Instead of having these centers or mentoring programs, many of our youth have turned to crime and drug use. I know that is a large contributor to the increase in youth drug-related fatalities.

Resolution #2: Open our eyes to the drug crisis in our city and find experts who can help
There is no easy fix for the drug dilemma we’ve found ourselves in, the solution will be multi-faceted and include law enforcement, city leadership, prevention programs, and all of us average citizens looking out for our communities and reporting the problems we see to aid in targeting those bringing drugs into our city.

Resolution #3: Fix Roads, Infrastructure, and the relationship with our native citizens.
The city had a deal with the Fond du Lac tribe for street repair from a portion of slot revenues received at the casino downtown. Instead of keeping up with road and infrastructure repair, they raided that fund and spent the money on foolish special interest projects. Not only did the administration cause animosity towards the tribe, it left us with no fund and crumbling streets and infrastructure.

Resolution #4: Spend taxpayer money where it’s needed, not just where it’s wanted
Putting our needs before our wants is key in improving Duluth and accomplishing the resolutions mentioned above.  Most will agree – roads before bike lanes and kids before theaters, libraries, and such.

We started conversations for these resolutions in 2015, I hope they continue through 2016.  Without risk management, diligence, and focus on the whole picture, both the negatives and the positives – we will not realize a bigger, better Duluth.

I’ll be watching the new city leadership closely. I hope you will as well.