I am running for Cayuga County Legislator in District 14 because I believe our County must strategically focus on running an effective and efficient government by leveraging the best of its traditions, programs and services while responding to the changing needs of the diverse residents it serves.
In fact, District 14 (the West end of Auburn) may well be the most diverse District in the County. I see constituent needs up close and personal on a daily basis. Families in my District need and deserve Cayuga County’s governmental departments to be supported, funded and fully operational under the leadership of its Legislature. These departments affect almost every detail in the lives of residents and workers. It is imperative to have a County Legislator who understands neighborhood issues, while recognizing the impact of local, state and national issues on County government.
I am a seasoned leader with a demonstrated track record of driving results that make a difference, of implementing respectful change management strategies, and of creating and sustaining organizations with fiscal viability.
As I think about the future of Cayuga County and District 14, I offer four strategic focus areas:
These focus areas resonate with me because they are interconnected. If we work efficiently and effectively, outcomes will create a quality of life that ensures everyone in Cayuga County thrives.
Why does this REALLY matter to me? I am a mother and grandmother whose greatest desire is to ensure our County and community is a beautiful, thriving place for my children and grandchildren; it’s personal to me, as I know it is for you.
My four focus areas for District 14:
Dedicated Support for Youth, Families, Veterans, and Senior Residents
I believe communities are only as strong as the health and well-being of those living there. I am committed to helping ensure County government delivers programs and services in ways that enhance the quality of life for all.
The death of a number of young people in our County by opioid overdose and the increasing numbers of youth struggling with mental health issues compelled me to consider what we as a community can do to ensure young people have access to services needed to live healthy lives.
I want our young people to enjoy their lives and meet their challenges successfully. I will partner with teens, the school district, the United Way and Cayuga County Youth Bureau, to garner political and community support for a county-wide agenda for youth that spells out short-term achievable goals for their success. This Cayuga County Youth Agenda provides a framework for decision making to best support our children and their families…after all, our children ARE our most valuable asset.
I honor the many parents in our community who work hard and long hours to provide for their families…AND….I am especially concerned about those parents WITH jobs who still find it difficult to make ends meet.
Our local United Way is part of the national ALICE Project, an initiative designed to better understand the needs of households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living for the County. ALICE stands for “Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.” Legislators must understand the economic and emotional impact surrounding this reality. For these working adults we must build on the services and support systems to assist in increasingly improving their financial position to create better lives for their families.
I was raised by career military parents with the values held by military families – leadership, loyalty, service and duty to community, state and country. I will actively advocate to ensure all veterans in Cayuga County receive the best of care and consistent recognition for their service. I want to ensure elder veterans have access to the services and support needed enabling them to age in their homes. I want to ensure returning veterans, men and women, have access to timely quality health care, mental health support and employment opportunities. I will actively support the newly formed Cayuga County Veterans Advisory Board and their advocacy efforts.
Currently in my District, there are four organizations providing an array of living scenarios for older residents; additionally, many elder residents remain in their homes preparing to pass homes on to new generations of family. As I meet with older residents in District 14, I hear concerns related to health care and having enough financial support to thrive not merely survive…and, I also hear a strong desire to remain living in their homes for as long as possible.
As District 14’s County Legislator, I will hold these concerns front and center to help ensure our youth, our families, veterans, and older residents are well-served and represented.
Protecting / Enhancing the County’s Natural Resources
Cayuga County is blessed with beautiful natural resources and I am committed to do my part as Legislator to protect and maintain the health of our lakes. I am learning that our residents have different perspectives and relationships with these beautiful bodies of water. However, all stand on common ground about the importance of protecting and enhancing these natural resources. I understand our priority is to recognize that our lake(s) are the source of our drinking water.
Protecting, enhancing and preserving our natural resources is complex and costly. County leaders must understand the combined impact of science, economics and quality of life as it relates to stewardship of natural resources. Legislators must utilize existing plans and create new ones to ensure that a thoughtful, strategic approach is in place to troubleshoot concerns, manage issues, and propose viable solutions.
It is also critical to launch comprehensive educational efforts to ensure future generations understand their duty and responsibility to protect and enhance the County’s natural resources.
Support for Existing Business, Industry, and Emerging Entrepreneurs
In 1990, I started my first company in Auburn. This began my entrepreneurial journey in Cayuga County. Twenty-nine years later I am President/CEO of a private sector leadership development corporation based in my district. Gwen, Inc. serves leaders, teams and companies across the country and is located in Auburn, on purpose! I am inspired by the long legacy of leadership in our community, and many of our County’s leaders are entrepreneurs and my mentors.
I know the challenges of small business owners; and as immediate past chair of WISE (Women’s Business Center), I understand specific needs of emerging millennial, minority and women entrepreneurs.
My understanding of larger companies in our County developed during my tenure as Chair of Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce, when the Chamber struggled with its role and relationship to County-wide economic development initiatives.
Today Cayuga County has new economic development opportunities on the horizon. Current statistics indicate 85% of new entrants to the workforce are millennial, women, and people of color. Cayuga County MUST BE EVER-READY TO WELCOME THEM INTO THE ECONOMY. I believe our Chamber, Planning Departments, and Economic Development Agencies (i.e. City of Auburn, Cayuga County, CEDA) are ready to welcome a new, diverse workforce, support their employers, and groom our next generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs for success.
As the District 14 Legislator, I will focus on all aspects of business development with attention to:
We need to continuously re-position ourselves to provide proper technical assistance, services and support for these industries.
The very young and enthusiastic entrepreneur I met when she started her first business in Cayuga County at the age of 10, propels me, wholeheartedly, to support youth entrepreneurship in Cayuga County by working with CCC, Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES and our school districts to enhance programs designed to foster creative, inventive ideas for economic progress.
Providing support for business development is directly aligned with being a fiscally viable community, and I am excited and confident about possibilities for Cayuga County.
Promote Effective / Efficient County Government, Administration, and Operation
Having an effective and efficient County administration and operation is central to running the business of the County. This is why I am very concerned about the perception held by some that their government is dysfunctional and incapable of operating efficiently and effectively.
Residents take their cue for whether or not County government is effective from hearing and watching what elected leaders say and do. Legislators must show County residents that they understand their leadership obligations and act accordingly. I believe everything, and I mean everything, rises and falls on government leaders.
Constant change or turnover in the hired administration of the County causes disruption, challenges and low trust, and negatively affects governments ability to do its job on behalf of those it is elected to serve.
I am interested in exemplary leadership and commit to applying my deep experience in organization development to improve the Legislature’s ability to run our County government.
Legislators are the fiduciary stewards of government and must be fiscally responsible to residents so that the County will thrive through ever-changing factors impacting its operations. It is important that our County government collaborate with the city to reduce costs, share resources, and that the County creates and approves budgets that align with the County’s most pressing needs.
I believe it’s imperative for the Cayuga County Legislature to remember their primary obligation is to their 77,000 plus constituents and commit to leading and overseeing an effective and efficient government body.