Editor’s note: Mayoral and council candidates were invited to submit columns about their campaigns.
People ask me why I want to serve on City Council. Quite simply, because I want to help make Meriden the best place it possibly can be, particularly for the residents of Area 4. I want my children — five-year-old Jackie and three-year-old Jabari — to grow and thrive in Meriden; to learn to love Meriden just as I do; to someday make the decision to stay and raise their own families here, just as I have.
Our children’s well-being may be the best measure of our city’s health. I learned that value early from my father, Alonzo, who for over twenty years ran a free basketball league for children. First I played in the league, and then helped him run it. As a City Councilor, my first priority will always be the children, our future. They need and deserve excellent schools, well-maintained playgrounds and ballfields, and high-quality recreational programs. Our youth require strong, positive role models who will instill in them a commitment to family and community.
I am an enthusiastic booster for Meriden (unlike some others). It is therefore troubling to see Meriden residents, particularly young people, spend the majority of their leisure time and money in other towns. I am eager to join the City Council and my fellow Democrats to continue the essential work it has started: attracting more restaurants and merchants, strengthening our neighborhoods, rebuilding downtown, maintaining our parks and encouraging our festivities. Rather than our own folks looking elsewhere to spend their time, Meriden can become a destination attracting visitors and new homeowners. We increase our property values as more people want to live here. We keep our property taxes down as more businesses choose to locate here.
The recent turn in our national politics deeply troubles me. Our country has been shaken by escalating anger and division. We can start turning things around by practicing a better way here in Meriden. We need to unite neighbor with neighbor. We need to embrace the beautiful diversity that enriches our City.
I am a people person and a problem-solver. As your representative on the Council, I particularly look forward to being your personal advocate. You have a right to expect that city government will be responsive to your concerns and that municipal services will be available and effective when you need them. I want to be there to hear your views, to learn of any problems you have, and to help you resolve them.
I believe it is time for fresh ideas from a new generation. There is an old saying: “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” This also motivates me to run for office. I hope you will be motivated too, to actively participate in the life of our wonderful City, and to cast your vote on November 7 for me and the Democratic team.
Darius Riddle is the Democratic candidate for city council representing Area 4.