This weekend, I had the pleasure of taking part in the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum. It was a wonderful opportunity to respond to questions from the public on so many important issues.
I was, however, taken aback by my opponent’s reply regarding potential sources of new revenue for the city. Her reply revolved around privatization. Primarily, she spoke of parking. Privatization of the parking utility is a topic that has been discussed in Summit in the past – and has been rejected by Council in a bi-partisan manner. Our parking utility is actually a revenue source for the city – typically contributing $550,000 per year. COVID has, of course, altered the parking landscape in the short term – and while we don’t know at what level commuting will come back after we have left the pandemic behind – it is altogether too soon to consider a 180-degree change in our approach to parking.
Even more troubling, however, was my opponent suggesting privatizing our pool and our municipal golf course. Perhaps she simply doesn’t know Summit well enough to understand our love for our community pool – or perhaps it is a philosophical issue – but privatizing either of these precious resources would be a huge mistake. Just a few years ago, the public came out vehemently against the idea of corporate memberships to the pool – and made it abundantly clear that our community pool is just that – a community pool. Its beauty is that it is a place where people from all parts of Summit can come together. Families bring their children who see their school friends or make new ones – while parents get to know one another as well. Seniors, too, use it for socializing and exercise. The idea of it becoming a private club is unimaginable.
I am all for innovative solutions and fresh ideas. Indeed, they are required to run our diverse city successfully and well. But ideas are not good ones just because they are “fresh.” They must also be developed out of a deep understanding of our community and the fabric that knits us together.
Susan Hairston - Candidate Summit Common Council, Ward 1