Following is a letter submitted by Bowling Green Councilman Daniel Gordon this morning to the city administration:
Dear Mayor Edwards, Members of Council, Administrator Tretter, Clerk Scherreik, and Attorney Marsh,
I had intended to make this announcement at Monday’s Council meeting, but early that evening I had an asthma attack and ended up at the ER. As you know, I’ve been trying to work on improving my health, so I appreciate your patience. I hope you all had a good and productive session. Since our next meeting is three weeks away, I will not be able to make these remarks in person, so in writing will have to do.
As some of you know, I recently purchased my original family home, which is outside of my district. My intent was to fix up the house and move into it following the end of my current term on Council. I have determined, however, that it is no longer financially feasible for me to afford that while continuing to reside at my current address.
Consequently, I am stepping down from my seat now to expedite the process for Council to find a successor. I resign from my office as 1st Ward Representative for the City of Bowling Green effective immediately. It is my hope that Council will have enough time to replace me prior to our first meeting in November.
I would be remiss if I left without reflecting on what an honor it has been to serve in elected office for nearly seven years. Most people in their twenties do not get to say that they helped govern a city, nor do even many of those who have get to say they did so in such tangible ways. Bowling Green is different now, and for the better, because I did my part, and you helped me do it. I want to thank each and every one of you, in addition to my thousands of constituents, for helping me learn what it means to be a true and effective leader.
Though we did not always agree on the issues, I learned from that too. And I am grateful for the opportunities we had to work together as a team in service of the common good. City government is becoming more responsive to citizens and proactive about solving problems.
Because of our teamwork, Bowling Green continues to make strides toward embracing its identity and culture as a welcoming, inclusive place that will not tolerate any form of discrimination. We have passed legislation recognizing as family some of our most vulnerable residents, including the Muslim and immigrant (documented and undocumented alike) communities. And we have strengthened our commitment to social justice by enshrining these values in our city charter as fundamental values of municipal governance. Not every community can say this.
Our teamwork has also led to Bowling Green striving for greater economic equity. We moved from dismissing the housing and neighborhood concerns of Eastside residents to devising and implementing a strategic plan to address those problems. When that work concludes, when Eastside residents believe that their government has fought to stop and reverse the deteriorating housing conditions and neighborhood quality of life, we will have responded substantively to the core economic problem facing our city. This issue has been one of my major passions and I hope that your future solutions pass the Rose Hess test (i.e., whether she’s happy with them).
It will be no surprise that I am proud we came together as leaders to build Ridge Park. Because of our work, 1st Ward residents now have their own park. Children have a real play space and neighbors have a gathering space. Ridge Park has had and will continue to have a significant, positive impact on neighborhood quality of life for years to come.
The list goes on. We banned fracking and rejected the Nexus pipeline easement request. We created a central green space in town and built the largest solar field in the state of Ohio. We opened our streets to food trucks and paved the way for Habitat for Humanity homes. We adopted Complete Streets principles to protect cyclists and pedestrians and demanded our counterparts at the state and federal levels do better to stop gun violence.
While I feel a real sense of collective and individual accomplishment, I also leave with unfinished business. I wish I could be there for the full, substantive implementation of the Community Action Plan. I wish I could be there after we make good on our commitment to secure funding for bicycle lanes to help ensure the installation of our first bike lane on Court Street. And I wish I could keep advocating for us to diversify our jobs portfolio to retain BGSU graduates who want to stay here in jobs that suit their talents and pay a living wage.
If I can make a couple policy requests, I first ask that as you examine how to implement the Community Action Plan proposal to institute a voluntary self-registration program for landlords, you consider establishing it as a mandatory program that comes with substantive licensing and inspection components. A voluntary program is better than the status quo, but a guarantee is even better, and my research indicates that there may exist versions of such a program that are constitutional. Our renters deserve homes that, however temporary, are safe and up to code.
My second request is that you seriously consider confronting our colleagues in the Ohio legislature who stripped our municipality of millions of dollars in intergovernmental revenue (most egregiously, the Local Government Fund) over the past decade and used them to fix a budget shortfall and replenish the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, which now sits at nearly $2.7 billion. Their fiscal irresponsibility has damaged quality of life here at home. I hope you all fight to get our money back. To that end, I had been crafting a resolution calling for the return of our Local Government Fund monies, and I am happy to share it with any of you who might be willing to carry the torch forward.
Because of the work I have done with you, I have become a kinder, more empathetic, more emotionally intelligent person. I expanded my sense of moral urgency, deepened my sense of moral responsibility, and developed a deeper appreciation for how interconnected we are with our neighbors across the state and across the country. In short, I have matured as a citizen.
Serving my constituents has been the honor of my life. I ask that, once my office is vacant, you appoint a successor who cares about the wellbeing of our people, who wishes earnestly to improve their quality of life, and who embodies the values that we as leaders share: courage, compassion, and tenacity. And, assuming you have a pool of such people to choose from, you can make further progress by improving representation in city government by appointing a young woman of color.
Kay, please let me know if there remains anything else for me to do to formalize my resignation. And to the rest of you — thanks again for everything. I received a true education here at 304 North Church Street.
Daniel J. Gordon