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Worcester Resident Running for At-Large Council Position

Saturday, April 20, 2013

 

Worcester resident and activist, Elizabeth St. John, is seeking signatures to run for city council. St. John has plenty of input ready for Worcester and its officials, as she reflects on the reasons she is stepping up to the plate.

Decision to Run

When asked what prompted a run for City Councilor-At-Large, St. John summed up her feelings that the city’s working class and underprivileged residents have not been given ever chance they deserve. She says they need more from city officials.

“The catalyst was the continuous disinvestment of the city’s funds – publically provided funds – for the improvement of the un-served and underserved in our community and to people outside of our community,” she said.

But these undirected resources, she said, aren’t just bad for families directly, but also the city’s economy.

“The money doesn’t get recirculated in our community which impedes business development. It stifles our economy. It makes it an unlivable place,” she said. St. John said that communication is key in improving this problem, and city council needs to do its job to make sure citizens are aware of opportunities.

“Sharing info about workforce development programs for people, seniors who want to be engaged in meaningful activities… That information doesn’t get distributed widely,” she said. “It seems like the current system limits and constrains the number of people that are made aware of all the opportunities that are here.”

St. John said that it’s all about encouraging economic health and welfare of the people in Worcester, “including its poor and working poor.”

Gathering Signatures

For St. John to have a shot at becoming a member of the City Council, she’ll have to collect 300 signatures by 5:00 p.m. May 21st, as do candidates for the Worcester School Committee. Those running for district council seats only need 100 signatures.

A citywide preliminary election is scheduled for Sept. 17th but will only run if more than 12 candidates enter the running.

Thoughts on the Slots Parlor

One hot button issue that Worcester’s council has had to face recently has been the proposed slot parlor that would come to the former Wyman Gordon property.

St. John said that if implemented, a slots parlor would be the “final nail in the coffin."

“We already face a high rate of domestic violence, due to high unemployment in this area. Add to that financial stress, and you’re going to have a noticeable increase in those behaviors and people getting hurt, families getting broken up.”

She said that it’s the last thing the city needs.

“We live and work here,” St. John said. “This is our community. We want to make it healthier and be proud to take our friends downtown without having to witness and take pity on the forgotten of society and seeing that behavior.”

As for how current councilors are handling the situation, St. John said that it’s not right for the majority of them to be mum on the subject. Currently, only councilors Konstantina Lukes and Sarai Rivera have voiced their opinions, standing against the proposition.

“They should voice their opinions,” St. John said.

Council Needs to Spread Information

When asked how council could change or improve how it works for citizens, she said that the governing body needs to be more efficient in getting information to the public. Specifically, St. Johns is concerned about environmental issues in the area, effecting public health.

She added that the city should be “turning up the heat” on Saint Gobain and other industrial sites in the region, and is concerned that there is a vested interested stopping them from asking bigger questions from polluters.

Worcester Has Heart

Despite things that St. John said need to be addressed in the city, she said that Worcester has vision and heart.

“I’m a Christian, and I have felt God’s presence from the first day I came here,” she said. “The architecture, contributions to mankind, the love that so many people have for humanity…”

St. John said that Worcester is a city that has learned to “work extremely hard to find solutions to the problems.”

“We do have the capacity here to be game changers, even amongst the people who are dismissed,” she said. “There is creative and artistic value and power here, even just the kids alone. For us as a people and as a community to discount anyone – it’s an abomination. It’s so visionless. That’s not using your resources.” 

 

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