Open communications are key to community engagement. I was the first council member to post regular updates, 172 in my two council terms (at onetakoma.com), and I was the first to hold regular, twice-monthly open office hours. (I also created the Takoma Park Facebook group — join us! — and have grown it to over 3,500 members.)

Seth with Johnny at Victory Tower

Communications are a two-way street, yet many city residents feel the City Council doesn’t engage. I will revive open discussions of critical issues and create dialogue so that we’re talking with and not at one another.

Let’s harness the enthusiasm, expertise, connections, and competence of community members in the creation of city policies and plans. Takoma Park residents — neighborhood leaders, housing experts, nonprofit workers, and environmentalists — are our best guides when it comes to local needs!

I will reforge a collaborative relationship with the city’s unions and advance progressive policies such as paid family leave for all city employees. (I organized advocacy that won a city living wage policy back in 2007!)

I will rework the budget process to elicit public input and center resident and local-business needs early in the formulation of each year’s city budget, with data-informed decisions and careful attention to tax increases. In my four years on the council, FY13-FY16, we held the total property tax increase to 2.5%, half the inflation rate!

The next council will feature a mix of experienced and new council representatives, working with a city manager still relatively new to Takoma Park. We have a perfect opportunity to revive the spirit of collaborative innovation that has been a Takoma Park tradition.