Citizens For A Better Norwood

Monday, October 15, 2007

Candidate blog series: Ward 1 candidate Jim Stith

James P. Stith II
Republican Candidate for Norwood City Council Ward 1

My name is Jim Stith, and I am the Republican Candidate for Norwood City Council to represent Ward 1. My website details my history and plans for the future. Please visit it for more information including my personal experience and activities in the community.

We moved to West Norwood almost 7 years ago and have chosen to raise our 3 children here. Jen and I like the diversity and potential of our community and intend to live here for many years to come. I want to represent West Norwood on City Council and focus on improving our area of the city. When elected, I will be your representative. It does not matter if you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent I will represent all of Ward 1 on Norwood City Council.

I am not a career politician; I am just a guy who lives in a neighborhood that I feel is being neglected. I am frustrated that our voice is not being heard, and I want to represent my neighbors on council and help improve our quality of life. I am just a regular guy who is passionate about our neighborhood and excited about the potential that exists. This is where Jen and I have chosen to raise our family.

According to my pedometer, I have walked over 30 miles in the past month going door to door trying to meet the voters in Ward 1. I have tried to knock on all your doors and meet as many of you as possible. If you were not home I left fliers and absentee ballot information. I am sorry if I missed you, but I still would love to meet anyone who wants to talk about our city.

As I walked I noticed many things I had not seen before, things you don’t notice driving by at 25 MPH. The conditions of housing, both good and bad. Kids playing in the streets. Neighbors on their porches and working in their yards. The condition of our sidewalks and curbs.

In talking with some of my neighbors, I have been shocked by some of the things I have heard. So many residents have reached a level of frustration that they want to move away but are afraid they cannot get any value on the sale of their house given the state of the community. Complaints about crime and the response of the police. Frustration at the lack of response from absentee landlords.

I see that things are getting better, house by house, street by street, in clusters throughout our community. Walking through our neighborhood I see people who take pride in where they live, improving their houses, flying the Flag, cleaning their yards and the streets in front of them. Families buying homes, turning what were rental properties once again into homes. We can all point out the properties that are run down, but we need to encourage and help those who show an interest in the community. We need to support the local homeowners improving our community and focus on the absentee landlords who do not even live in our state.

There are several major issues I am interested in. Each is detailed on my website. I have included details on a few of those that follow.

Budgeting and Financial Responsibility
Spend less than we make. More detail below.

Development of an effective Street Plan
This program will establish a system for maintaining our infrastructure. Detailed below.

City Income Tax Reform
We need to re-evaluate the changes made by the Democrats and modernize our tax system.

Bring Norwood into the 21st Century
My goal is to help implement a program that will modernize our city services by utilizing the computer software we already own but do not use.

Establishment of a Blue Ribbon Committee for Development
Planned and controlled development.

Support our Emergency Services

Housing Improvement and Development
By beautifying our city entryways and improving housing while encouraging new development we can remind people why Norwood is the “Gem of the Highlands”.

Norwood for Our Kids
The Norwood for Our Kids project will improve the services and activities for the young teens in our city keeping them off the streets and out of trouble.

Development of an Effective Street Plan
I have always been amazed at how many streets get repaired just before an election and at which streets are replaced afterwards. I would like to create a long term plan for street repair and replacement. This program will establish a system for maintaining our infrastructure.

Everyone wants to know when their street will be repaved. This system will provide a long term plan for repairs and repaving. By grading each street we can project when streets will need repair or replacements. While emergency repairs will continue, the backbone of this program will be maintenance.

As a city we also need to work closer with utility companies to establish schedules for under street projects. This way we can try to avoid tearing up streets that were recently paved.

While I cannot promise that your individual street will be resurfaced upon my election, I will work to establish this program which will establish a time frame for repairs and replacement of all streets.

Budgeting and Financial Responsibility
I am happy to say that over the past eighteen months with hard work and sacrifice my wife Jennifer and I have become debt free except for our house. This was done by learning to spend less than we make, save money, and eliminate the use of credit from our lives. This personal philosophy will be used in the establishment of a balanced budget for our city.

It took me until I was almost 40 to finally listen to what my Grandmother always said, “You should live on less than you make," “have a written budget every month," and “save for a rainy day.” If only I had paid attention earlier.

The city has to have a written budget. One that spends only money we generate. Until then we will continue in our financial difficulties. We all have to tell our money what to do and make it work for us rather than always chasing more money. If we ran our household budgets the way the city handles its money our homes would be in foreclosure, our cars repossessed and credit card companies calling us every day.

We must all remember that we can not borrow our way out of debt. You can’t dig your way out of the bottom of a hole. As it says in Proverbs; “The Borrower is Slave to the Lender.”

I hope I can bring some of this common sense to our City Council.

City Income Tax Reform
We need to re-evaluate the changes made by the Democrats and modernize our tax system. Our income tax code was written in 1953; and even though it has been reviewed recently, it desperately needs to be updated. This system continues to penalize individuals who receive 401K plans rather than pensions and makes no allowance for families who use health care savings accounts or invest for their children’s futures. The current plan has rewards for city and government employees who have pensions and full benefits and effectively doubleas taxes those of us who work for private companies or are self employed. We’re taxed on our 401K contributions when they are made and when they are withdrawn at the time of our retirement. While other tax rate is stated to be 2%, it is actually possible to pay a much higher rate if you work in more than one of our surrounding cities. This system is broken and must be repaired and brought into the 21st century.