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Ray At His Campaign Kickoff for City Council At-Large
Java House Washington, DC September 12, 2009, 10:32 AM EDT CLARK E. RAY: I stand here today - the product of a blue collar working class union family from South Arkansas - the son of a pipe fitter for an oil refinery and a housewife and substitute teacher. I stand here today as the first in my family to receive a college degree. My passion for public service derives from the values instilled in me by my parents. They taught me it is better to give than to receive; better to serve than to serve one's own interests; and that we have a responsibility to help those unable to help themselves. I stand here today on the corner of 17th and Q streets, in the Ward where I began my service to the people of the District of Columbia. I am proud that standing with me are many neighbors and friends who have endorsed my candidacy. In addition, my candidacy has been endorsed by people who have worked with me over the years including community activists, the Chair, Vice Chair and members of the Dupont ANC as well as the business leaders in the community. They know that I believe it is only by working together that we can build and rebuild all our neighborhoods. I have dedicated my life to public service. As a Director of Parks and Recreation who built new beauty into every Ward, (just take a look at Stead Park and the new S and T street Parks), as a Reserve Police Officer who helped protect our streets, as an aide at the highest levels of our federal government, I have made real a passion for improving the lives of people. Today, we proudly launch my campaign for Council at-Large of the District of Columbia. We launch this effort in the city where my partner Aubrey and I make our home--the City where I long ago chose to make my life, the City I have loved with my heart and hands, and the City of neighborhoods I want to continue to serve. I stand here today knowing that our City has an exciting future ahead. In choosing our next Councilmember at-Large, we face a clear choice: we can plod forward, or together we can move boldly into the future. A future in which we fully embrace Education Reform; make our homes and neighborhoods places of safety and dignity for all; create more opportunities for neighbors of all walks of life, and make all our neighborhoods exciting places to live, work and recreate. I believe in a BOLD NEW FUTURE for EDUCATION IN D.C. I am totally committed to Education Reform. I support Chancellor Rhee's efforts. But I will demand total transparency in school budgets. I believe that if we are to continue to move education reform forward, which for the sake of our children we must, that we need to bring to the table parents and the Union. DC should be a city where our school system is second to none, with stability and continuity that ensures children have the tools they need to learn, and excellently trained teachers have the tools they need to teach.
I am committed to the University of the District of Columbia that is only now returning to the promise of its rich history and heritage. I am committed to guaranteeing that DC will have an education system that challenges our residents to achieve from childcare and early childhood education through graduate school if that is the road they choose. I am committed to building a great community college to ensure that every student receives the kind of high quality education that enables them to support themselves and their families and achieve personal success. DC should be a city where a college education is a reality for every high school graduate who chooses to go, and where excellent vocational and technical programs leading to wellpaying jobs are available for those students who choose that route to success. From preschool to graduate school, DC should be a city where every student of every age is challenged to reach their full potential regardless of the circumstance of their birth, current economic status, or where they live. Let me be clear: our schools, our children, had been left to wallow too long in a broken system. I see it as a human rights crisis that is being fixed. I support reform -with respect for every child, and for every adult who wishes to work hard for their future--and I will further those reforms. We must ensure ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & DIVERSITY The future for every child, for every family, rests upon our city's economic vitality, and I will focus upon what I call "sustainable economic vigor." DC must move beyond taking comfort in its inoculation against recessions, because the truth of the matter is this: downturns have never failed to dash the dreams of many, and the booms have not yet taken us to where we must be. DC must be a city that equips the least among us -for the best the future can hold, and we must build a new prosperity of sustainable economic vigor. The green jobs that other American cities showcase, we can build here. The small and midsize businesses that realize dreams for the bold, and bring new vitality to forgotten streets, we can foster here. The development projects that bring a world-class pride to our downtown, and smart growth projects that bring new jobs to every neighborhood, we can build them here together. We must not rest until the unemployment rate in Ward 7 and 8 is as low as it is in Ward 3. NEIGHBORHOODS OF SAFETY & DIGNITY must be a reality The men and women, the families, who work so hard every day, deserve to return home to neighborhoods of safety and dignity. As the only candidate for Council in many years who has actually walked our city's streets as a Reserve Police Officer, I know that creating safe neighborhoods is not done from the dais in the City Council Chamber, it is not done by legislating first and asking communities and patrol officers second, it is not done with a blindness to repeat offenders nor the need to rehabilitate those who seek a new life. Creating neighborhoods of safety and dignity will come from creating real community policing. I will work to create real incentives for our best officers to stay where they are
most needed: in neighborhoods, on the streets. Many officers are still asked to transfer out of their Police Service Areas when they advance in their career; I believe that communities are best served when officers do not have to make a choice between their career and the community they know best. The better our police and community know and trust each other the safer our neighborhoods will be. And neighborhoods of safety and dignity also come from, not just years of obligatory statements, but making real the opportunities of rebuilding a life for those who have had their lives go astray, and will return to our neighborhoods. I will demand for the people A GOVERNMENT OF TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY I believe I have earned a reputation for seeing that the concerns of people for a better quality of life are met. I have put on the uniform of a reserve police officer to walk a beat, and in my roles as director of Parks and Recreation and neighborhood services coordinator I focused on issues both large and small because I believe this: that no issue of concern to a District resident is too small to be dealt with. One of the major roles of the Council is oversight of City Government. I will focus the bright light of public scrutiny on how our government does business and demand accountability from our public managers. As only the second person on the Council who will have successfully managed a city agency, staff and budget, I believe I have the ability to do that better than anyone else. I will insist on transparency in government, and with the eyes and ears of the public behind me, we will achieve that. I will run A CAMPAIGN FOR DC's FUTURE Today I formally accept a great challenge, and know that together we have begun a campaign for DC's future, a campaign that one year and two days from now will lead us to victory in the Democratic primary, and ultimately to the City Council. Today, I speak to residents both East and West of the river, to tell them exactly what kind of a Council member I will be. I stand today with community activists from across every Ward in the City, people that represent the different communities in the District who share my commitment to making a real difference in peoples' lives. Today, I embark on an exciting journey to share my vision and ideas for a better future for our great City with the people of DC. I will go door to door, and meet people where they live, where they work, in their schools and parks, at ANC meetings, tenant meetings, and community meetings. I will be at neighborhood gatherings in every corner of the District asking residents to join me on this journey towards a better future. I envision a brighter future for DC. A future where we have statehood and the full voting representation in Congress we deserve. * A future where quality health care is a right not a privilege, and where citizens have that right made real, in every Ward, from ensuring the health of our children to battling epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and obesity. Where we help people overcome their addictions so they can again become productive members of our society and fulfill their dreams. * A future that includes affordable housing and policies that allow the City workers who serve us; police, EMS, firefighters, and teachers to live here where they work.
* A future where our business leaders and environmentalists work together to build our city, while protecting our environment; and where developers and community activists can find common ground. * A future where we deliver balanced budgets and protect bond ratings, while still providing - God's greatest asset - our people, with quality education and essential services -especially for those in our city least able to fight for themselves, children, the homeless and our senior citizens. * A future where our houses of faith are drawn further into the common purpose of all our people, rather than drawn to the barricades for or against anyone's equal rights. * A future where the moments of rift between a city and its people are bridged, by bringing more people from more walks of life citywide into service of a transparent, accountable and responsive government. TOGETHER we will build a better DC In the coming months I will carry this vision for a brighter future across the City and explain how I will fight and work on the Council to complete a renaissance we have already begun, but that risks going off course. During the past eight years I have worked solely for the residents of the District of Columbia. Today I'm here to tell you that we can make this a better city for all of us. But to succeed, we'll have to work together. Black, white, Latino, Asian, straight, transgender and gay, this is our city, and it is only together that we will complete its renaissance and make sure that Washington, DC is truly a City that Works for us all. I can't do this alone so today I ask you to join me on this journey; I need your help to raise campaign funds as we know to get our message out won't be inexpensive. I ask that you volunteer to walk with me as I go door to door, Place a yard sign in your yard or a poster in your window. Talk to your neighbors and friends and local businesses and ask them to do the same. Go to www.clarkrayforcouncil.com when you leave here today and make a personal commitment to join me on this journey. I pledge to you today, my head and my heart, my passion and energy, and my hard work. With your help, I will work on the Council to make our vision for DC a reality and we will build a brighter future for us all. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless our beautiful District of Columbia. END 10:46 AM EDT
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