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Andrew Werthmann’s Council President Candidate Statement – Eau Claire for All Initiative

Submitted by Editor on February 15, 2019 – 4:27 pm | Print or Email »No Comment

Dear neighbors of the Eastside Hill Neighborhood Association:

Thank you for providing the opportunity for me to submit a written statement about my campaign, my qualification, and my vision for our community. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. As a fellow neighbor and City Council member it’s been a real privilege to have worked with you these past ten years to help Eau Claire grow and prosper, and I hope to continue working with you in the coming years.

In terms of my background, I’m the longest current serving City Council member, having served since 2009. I currently serve as the acting City Council President following the resignation of former Council President Kerry Kincaid last summer.

Professionally, I’m a federal policy analyst for The Pew Charitable Trusts across the Midwest. My job is primarily focused on community flood resilience and ensuring funding for our National Parks. I work in communities across the Midwest to help lift up the voices of local business owners, chambers, historic societies, nonprofits and elected leaders to advocate for policies that help their community.

I believe one of the City Council’s top priorities is to ensure the economic health and wellbeing of our community and all our residents. And to do that, we must leverage Eau Claire’s biggest economic strength, our award-winning quality of life. That’s why during my years on City Council, I’ve fought hard to ensure we are investing in our quality of life amenities – like Phoenix Park, the Confluence, bike trails, community gardens, mass transit, and Libraries.

This strategy of focusing on people and quality of life is exactly why we are able to keep and attract world-renowned businesses like JAMF, Drylock, Menards, Presto, and many others. These businesses could locate anywhere, but they choose Eau Claire over places like Alabama or Mississippi because we can offer something those ‘race-to-the-bottom’ communities can’t – a place where entrepreneurs and employees will be excited to live, work, and start businesses.

I’m running for City Council President under a very specific agenda, called the Eau Claire for All Initiative. Under this, I am proposing we: 1) tackle poverty and inequality head on and create more affordable housing 2) expand community involvement and strengthen our neighborhoods, and 3) continue to invest in a more sustainable future.

I’m proud of the work our new City Council is doing to invest in people and our neighborhoods. For example, in this year’s Council budget we implemented a new Participatory Budgeting initiative to strengthen and empower residents and neighborhoods.

Under this program, our City sets aside a portion of our budget to be spent on projects – like playground equipment, street lights, exc – recommended and voted on directly by residents and neighborhood associations. Former City Manager Mike Huggins strongly supports Participatory Budgeting because it makes our City more transparent and responsive to the public.

I’m also proud that – after becoming acting President last year – one of my first initiatives was to create an open Public Comment period during our City Council meetings so residents can bring forward any of their concerns, not just on topics currently on the agenda.

I’m excited to announce this Public Comment period was recently used successfully by a neighborhood on the west side to bring forward a concern about a land acquisition. This new Public Comment period helped the neighborhood bring forward their concerns early in the process to seek a meaningful solution.

Our City Council is also implementing meaningful solutions on sustainability. I and Council member Kate Beaton co-authored an initiative to ensure all of Eau Claire will run on 100% clean energy by 2050, with ZERO carbon emissions! We’ve created a Sustainability Commission, and we even allocated over $700,000 to remove lead pipes that were still delivering water to many Eastside Hill homes.

And finally, I’m proud that in this year’s budget our City Council took meaningful action to provide help to people struggling just to get by. We have over 300 children in Eau Claire Schools without a home, 16% of our friends and neighbors living daily in poverty, and 46% just making it paycheck to paycheck. The need to address poverty is too urgent for folks to keep waiting for us to take action.

That’s why our Council acted on the request from our Library Director and funded two new Library positions. One will help people experiencing homelessness get needed services and provide a supportive and secure library environment, and the second will focus on improving literacy for at-risk youth.

As Library Board President Bob Eierman noted, “In the long run, these positions will more than pay for themselves. It’s far cheaper to help people early, and enable them to become contributing members of society, than to wait until problems arise.”

This is just one step we need to take. I am proposing we create an Affordable Housing Commission to look at all future developments and work with developers to incorporate more affordable housing throughout our community. I also believe that no public dollars should ever go to subsidizing new jobs unless those jobs pay a living wage.

I believe my dedication fighting for policies that uplift everyone, as well as my time serving on the City Council and as the acting City Council President, makes me the best candidate for the job of Council President. I would appreciate your support on April 2nd and look forward to working with you in coming years to create a better Eau Claire for everyone.

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