In recent years there has been a great deal of conversation about the existence of “two Tallahassee’s” and no group is more affected by those realities than children. The childhood poverty rates in Tallahassee are unquestionably too high. It has never been more evident that Tallahassee needs to act towards creating better outcomes for children. The status quo on this front is unacceptable. That’s why earlier this year I proposed the creation of a Leon County Children’s Services Council. I’m proud to say that because of that charge we will see the measure on the ballot in 2020.
A Children’s Services Council is a special government entity that is solely focused on advancing the development of children in a certain jurisdiction. After months of public testimony and civic engagement the Board of County Commissioners decided to form a task force to develop a proper plan of action as the first step towards creating a CSC. I am confident that the group of leaders we have assembled from across the community will help to make keen choices on how we can best invest in our future generations. I’m even more confident that the voters of Tallahassee and Leon County will vote to make the Children’s Services Council a reality.
The work will not end with the creation of a CSC though. In fact, it will just begin. Should I be elected Mayor this November, I am fully committed to working with every key partner in the community to build a new united front to combat childhood poverty. In order to change the outcomes for the most vulnerable of our neighbors, we have to engage with the private sector, non-profits, and of course local government. I believe we can make needed strides if we all work with a plan and a shared set of strategies. Imagine the economic and social impact if we could reduce childhood poverty in Tallahassee by just 1% per year. Our goal will always be more, but when facing problems that have persisted for generations, we must work hard for every gain because every single life matters in this fight.
I want citizens to be able to climb the ladder of success in Tallahassee. That begins by prioritizing that our children have the resources to learn, grow, and thrive as they develop into adults. When I began the push for the Children’s Services Council I did so with hope and belief that we can break Tallahassee’s cycle of poverty in our time. My priority as Mayor will be to focus our efforts on Children and the environments they live and learn in. If we can change those realities, we can change lives and it will be those lives that go on to change our city in the future.