My name is Jason Tetlak, and I am running for City Council in District 14 because, like many people in this city, I believe that Jacksonville has enormous potential. Join us after the jump for more details.
Together, I know that we can make downtown a destination by creating a more dynamic experience with a new public transit system, increased art initiatives, expanded biker and pedestrian safety efforts, and incentives that support small business growth. A vibrant downtown is important for our city in terms of tourism, revenue, and public perception.
This new downtown experience should coincide with the creation of an eco-friendly identity for our city. We can do this by expanding our recycling and alternative energy programs, fixing our failing septic units, and doing a better job preserving and showcasing the St. Johns River.
It’s no secret that the river is the lifeblood of our city. We have to highlight as well as protect this wonderful resource. We can provide more public access points to the river, make the riverwalk more inviting by incorporating green spaces, and include ideas that showcase the river into all our future development plans.
Additionally, we can send a clear message that we are a strong community that’s proud of its diversity by ensuring that every citizen has the right to be treated equally. Passing legislation that guarantees equal rights to all our citizens should be a priority, not just to encourage businesses and individuals to relocate here, but because it is the right thing to do. We can’t expect people to buy into a sense of community if they feel alienated or excluded.
As a former teacher and father of two, I also believe that we need to ensure that all of our children get the world-class education they deserve. Our commitment to education should include supporting our local libraries so that students of all ages have a quiet, safe place to go and learn. Many families count on our libraries for access to information many of us take for granted, so safeguarding dedicated funding to keep these locations open and thriving is important. We also need to do a much better job of supporting our public school teachers so they can create a rich and energetic learning environment for our students.
I can’t claim to have all the answers, or to have some magic solution that will solve all our city’s problems, but I can promise that I won’t be satisfied with more of the same. I don’t believe we can continue business as usual and expect the results to change, and I don’t think our citizens should buy into the same old “smile and wave.”
That’s why I’ve decided to show my commitment to change by starting with my own campaign. If I’m going to use yard signs to get my name out to the public, then I will repurpose materials and create those signs myself rather than ordering in bulk so they can go into our landfill in a couple of months. Even the idea of raising $20k, or $50k, or $100k to run for office seems incredibly wasteful to me, and its not something I want to be a part of.
So far this election cycle, city council candidates have raised more than $1.1 million. What are the people getting for all that money? Another politician doing things the way they’ve always been done? That money would be better spent being donated to our schools or to cleaning up our river.
That’s why I have decided that I am no longer going to accept donations for my campaign – at all. To be honest, I never liked asking for money in the first place. The whole process of raising money takes away from really campaigning or discussing ideas. Having spent a lot of time touring agencies and non-profits in town, I just think that if people have money to donate, they should funnel it someplace more useful. Your donations could make so much more of an impact if you gave them to JASMYN, the St Johns Riverkeeper, PFLAG, the North Florida Land Trust, Operation New Hope, or any of a dozen other fantastic organizations working to improve the lives of our citizens.
Or better yet, don’t take the easy way out. Quit throwing away your money and roll up your sleeves. Get out there and do your part to help improve our city. Volunteer your time. Help clean up the river. Mentor a child. Help build a Habitat for Humanity home. All of those options are more effective tools for change, and much more gratifying as well.
That’s how I’m going to run my campaign and how I intend on making this city a better place. Not by asking for handouts or throwing money at a problem, but by doing the work that needs to be done - because it’s about time someone does.
People have told me that doing things differently may cost me this election. I have to admit that it might. Do I want to win? Of course I do. But the way I see it, winning doesn’t necessarily mean getting elected. To me winning means making Jacksonville a better place.
My name is Jason Tetlak, and I’m running for city council because it’s time for Jacksonville to move past being a city with potential, and become a city living up to its potential.