Dear Decaturish – Why I support Melissa Manrow
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I am campaigning and voting for Melissa Manrow and I’ll tell you why:
As a 30-year resident of Decatur, I am an extensive user of the school system for my young adults who have proudly, albeit somewhat disjointedly, attended all seven schools (to accommodate population increase) at some point in their careers. It is on their behalf that I write this letter.
While there are many new residents attracted to the City of Decatur because of the great school system, what happens to their student-children afterwards? Most leave and go to college and get jobs elsewhere, their parents move out after they are finished with school because they no longer need the school system, taxes are too high, and the cycle starts again. I am watching this happen and our city changing with each exit, old house torn down and sold to new, like a kind of throw-away society. Each small turn-over pushes us further into the downward spiral of catch-up in the form of short-term planning – working to shore up the school system and city government to accommodate larger numbers versus sustaining our population with quality and affordable inclusive living. This means housing and services that include all flavors of our population, not just families with school-aged children, but all kinds of families and residents. This takes planning and foresight not just talk about diversity.
My girls will NOT be leaving the area because they both have developmental disabilities, and I want them to live in the community where they grew up, with neighbors and friends they know. I want them to have access to shopping, medical care, public transportation, and be able to walk or ride their bikes if they want to go to the bank or the library. They will thrive in a community like Decatur, not just because they are familiar with it, but because they are learning to function independently here with the help of close friends and neighbors. They vote here. In Decatur, they can truly be included as citizens.
Of all the talk about keeping diversity in Decatur, Melissa Manrow is the only one talking about people with disabilities aging in place, true diversity. Melissa is the only one who has worked in programs like the social service system through the Sheriff’s Department in close contact and in support of truly disadvantaged folks. Melissa has been on the City’s Planning Commission for many years and has been involved in our Decatur Heights Neighborhood Association.
Melissa Manrow, in my opinion, “Walks the Walk”, as they say. She is sensitive to the fact that a significant portion of our current population has recently bought houses at great expense, pay a lot in taxes, and have legitimate need to receive adequate return in the form of uncrowded schools and good city services. And, Melissa is also sensitive to the needs of folks like me, and many others facing similar futures– to have our adult children to live here safely and successfully with community recognition and support.
Melissa recognizes these seemingly divisive needs and concerns, “old” Decatur versus “new”. Her work in the Justice system proves that. She has longterm vision, experience, and passion for helping our City continue to grow, but in a way that includes room for everyone–in particular, young adults like my girls and their friends and peers. Their numbers, by the way, will continue to escalate as the rates of autism increase in this country and in our area, now 1 in 68. Where will these folks live after their parents are gone? My hope is that Decatur can continue to be the welcoming place it has been, welcoming to all, regardless of income, race, or ability.
Thanks for reading. Vote smart. Vote Melissa Manrow for City Commission District 1.
– Terri Leonard
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