Since announcing my candidacy for mayor of Meriden, I’ve talked to hundreds of residents and business-owners — there is deep dissatisfaction with city hall. For decades, we have been ignored, but not anymore. This year there is hope, and together we will change Meriden, making it a place we can be proud to call home.Having been born into a home without electricity or running water, I fully understand the hardships of everyday life.My parents, not knowing a word in English and with little to no formal education, worked hard to provide six with food, shelter and health. They believed that with hard work and determination, anyone from any background can succeed.It’s with that same determination that I believe our city can also succeed.To that end, I believe the revitalization of our downtown is critical to the success of Meriden — where the downtown goes, so does the city.For much too long, city hall has focused solely on expanding social services. This only attracts the very people who need these services.We have got to start focusing on taxpayers. We have got to start focusing on attracting more businesses and creating more jobs throughout the city.I’m not advocating cuts, and we will always help the truly needy.Additional low-income housing is the last thing we need. Instead, I will engage private developers to encourage market-value homes, especially downtown.In parallel, I will introduce a resolution that will only allow retail (such as restaurants, cafes, boutiques) at street level, the very locations that rely on foot traffic. Only with market-value housing will we attract taxpayers with the disposable income necessary to frequent these businesses.These two things alone will send a clear message that Meriden is turning around and open for business!Many business-owners have expressed to me their bad experiences in dealing with city officials. This must improve if we are to attract more jobs and create a business-friendly climate.The exposing of the brook at the HUB site will finally solve flooding issues and eliminate an eyesore. However, we didn’t have to wait two decades. I would not have used the flooding as reason for not achieving any economic development or revitalization . . . our city is much larger than 14 acres. Some projects are too large to be funded by the city alone, such as the HUB, but we need to focus less on state and federal monies, not because it only keeps our overall taxes high, but because it makes our city vulnerable. Connecticut is so in debt and the spending so out of control, it’s on the verge of again dramatically raising our taxes, and businesses are fleeing this state at an alarming rate. Furthermore, the federal government can’t sustain the current spending levels. It’s only a matter of time before federal grants to municipalities stop all together. We will not be the city we can be, unless we control our own future. Relying solely on Hartford and Washington is not leadership, it’s dependency.A sign of a healthy, open democracy and responsive government is how acceptant of dissension our representatives are. One of my first actions as mayor will be to open up every City Council meeting to public comments, and broadcast it.If you are not happy with the current conditions in Meriden, this is the year to do something about it. The era of empty promises and false hope is over. We have a great future ahead of us, but only if you elect me as your next mayor, so we can achieve great things together. Surely, leaders of all political sides, unions and city officials at all levels can find common ground and work towards common goals to change the direction of Meriden. Manny Santos, secretary of the Meriden Republican Town Committee, is the Republican candidate for mayor in Meriden.