We are living in a nation on edge. From Wall Street to Main Street, shocking headlines and breaking news stories are causing political and emotional uneasiness and – dare I say – racial division like many of us have never seen.
As I walk door to door across our city, friends, neighbors and business leaders often ask me, why are you running for political office? My initial response is, Why not? Fact is, it is much deeper than that and is rooted in the lessons of community and public service taught to me as a young girl growing up in Fort Wayne.
My passion and dedication for service has been the cornerstone that has guided me as an African American woman, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and business owner for more than 25 years. Simply put, I have embraced my family's legacy as a servant leader. An unspoken truth which says, be the change you want to see – not a complainer, but a part of the solution. That is why I am running.
While uncertainty and even fear may hold many in our country hostage, my focus, today and always, is on the working families of Fort Wayne who are demanding bigger and bolder ideas and, most of all, gender diversity on our City Council.
Why is this important? Study after study shows racial and gender diversity in representative government opens the door for a greater appreciation of the kitchen-table issues facing voters and provides for more creative solutions. Unfortunately, this has not been our experience in Fort Wayne.
Since 2012, Fort Wayne has been led by an all-male, mostly white City Council. This would not be unusual except for the fact we, as the second most populous city in Indiana with 265,000 residents, are 51% women. Pause for a minute and let that sink in – 51% of our community are women. Women we trust to teach our children, care for our parents, lead businesses – but not represent us on City Council. This is unacceptable.
As shocking as this may be, voters in Fort Wayne will have the opportunity to right this wrong in November. As a candidate for a City Council at-large seat, I ask for your vote and therefore the opportunity to bring a new voice and a new vision to our local government. A vision that will put people over politics, a vision that will start with proactive and consistent community engagement and a vision that will work toward solutions that recognize the social and economic hurdles of those often forgotten in the decision-making process.
Fort Wayne is an amazing city filled with neighborhoods of hardworking people who call it home and raise their children here. Like any other city, however, we have our challenges that at times can seem overwhelming. These challenges can only be solved when we decide to elect leaders with diverse experiences, a passion for public service and a willingness to build coalitions for a stronger, more inclusive Fort Wayne.
I hope you will join me on this journey – because this is why I am running.
Michelle Chambers is a candidate for an at-large seat on Fort Wayne City Council.