2023 Democratic Slate Platform
Durham’s Future: In Need of Engaged & Proactive Leadership
Durham, CT, known for its rich history and warm, inviting community, stands at a pivotal juncture. As we navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving world, the question arises - Is our town’s leadership fulfilling its responsibility to secure a vibrant future for Durham?
Critical to Durham's success is effecfive representation at the regional and state levels. This aspect is not just about attending meetings, but about proactive engagement, advocacy, and follow-through that could bring substantial benefits to our town.
Regular participation in regional board meetings, for instance, keeps us connected with our neighbors, ensures our voice is heard, and gives us a say in decisions affecting our region. Currently, there has been a noticeable absence of timely reports back to the community, leaving us in the dark about important regional developments and decisions.
Among example of this is the STEAP grant, a potential windfall of $500k for our town. Despite the board of selectmen being aware well ahead of the deadline, the town management failed to seize the opportunity. These funds could have catalyzed various initiatives, enhancing Durham’s quality of life and economic vitality.
These incidents paint a concerning picture. We are seeing a pattern of missed opportunities that impact our regional standing and potential growth. It’s time for a change.
Durham deserves leaders who don’t just dedicate themselves to local tasks but also fight for our interests on larger stages. We need leaders who proactively seize opportunities that can bring substantial benefits to our town. Let’s demand leadership that propels Durham forward, bolstering our presence regionally and securing a prosperous future for us all. As Democrats we pledge to do this.
Economic Development and a Sensible Approach to Housing
Substantial change to the tax base in Durham faces a number of significant challenges. The vast majority of our commercial and industrial property has already been developed. There remain very few significant commercial and industrial properties that are undeveloped. Even if those are developed, a possibility that Democrats hope will happen, that will do little to change the basic nature of Durham or the tax base distribution.
There are a significant number of commercial properties that are currently vacant. As Democrats we will work hard with the Economic Development Commission to facilitate the occupation of the empty properties and find suitable development partners for the empty properties. The fairly new presence of water and gas lines along Main Street, present some new possibilities that did not previously exist.
Working with property owners to reduce the number of blighted properties in Durham is a major priority for Durham Democrats. Both on Main Street and beyond, there are opportunities to improve the look and quality of life for all residents if some of these properties can be remedied.
Given the restrictions of a town entirely on septic systems and almost entirely on well water, increasing the variety and affordability of housing in Durham is a challenge. If Durham is going to attract new young families we must have more and broader availability of housing. Current two acre zoning is overly restrictive. Building a one or two family house on one acre would help increase the options.
Complete Streets and Bike Paths: The Unlocked Potential for Durham, CT
In envisioning a vibrant and accessible Durham, the adoption of Complete Streets and bike paths remains crucial. These initiatives are not just about accommodating cyclists - they are about creating a robust, interconnected community that champions safety, health, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.
Research consistently highlights the benefits of these initiatives. Streets designed for all users - pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers alike - promote safer travel, improve physical fitness, and foster greater social interaction. Economically, bike paths and pedestrian-friendly streets boost local businesses, increase property values, and encourage tourism. Environmentally, they reduce vehicle emissions and urban heat island effects.
Despite these compelling benefits, Complete Streets and bike paths have repeatedly been obstructed in Durham. Current republican leadership ahs consistently blocked these initiatives, often prioritizing traditional traffic concerns over broader community needs. The narrative that bikes and pedestrians are secondary to motor vehicles perpetuates an outdated perspective that inhibits Durham’s growth and development.
Let’s redefine our streets, not as mere conduits for cars, but as public spaces that serve all Durham residents. It’s time we champion a future where streets are complete, bike paths are prevalent, and our community is better connected.
Inclusion Makes Us Stronger: The Case for DEI Initiatives in Durham
Community is about embracing everyone, celebrating our differences, and ensuring all voices are heard and respected. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives embody these values, contributing to the vibrancy and resilience of our town. The opposition to these initiatives current republican leadership is disappointing, especially considering these initiatives previously garnered bipartisan support.
The recent refusal to support a joint Middlefield grant aimed at bolstering DEI initiatives is a striking example. Middlefield’s Board of Selectmen unanimously endorsed this initiative, recognizing its potential to strengthen community ties and promote inclusivity. Yet, despite this overwhelming support from our neighbors, republican leadership chose to dismiss the proposal, denying Durham an opportunity to deepen our commitment to DEI.
DEI initiatives are not mere formalities; they represent a proactive commitment to fostering a community where everyone feels valued, heard, and included. These programs help in addressing historical injustices, breaking down prejudices, and ensuring equal access to resources and opportunities. By turning their backs on these initiatives, current republican leadership are effectively turning their backs on a significant segment of our community.
This isn’t just about political disagreement; it’s about the kind of community we want to build here in Durham. Do we want to become a town that embraces diversity, seeks equity, and fosters an inclusive environment? Or do we want to stagnate, upholding the status quo at the expense of our community’s growth and harmony?
Our town deserves leaders who understand the value of diversity, the importance of equity, and the necessity of inclusion. Let’s make sure our voices are heard and advocate for a more inclusive and welcoming Durham.