Welcome to the first article in the “What’s on My Mind” e-bulletin–a series of short
position papers in which I will share my thoughts and perspectives–and seek yours–on particular issues facing us in Mason County. We are launching this communiqué ten days before election day (November 6, 2012) to urge you to read about my PROMISE idea, share it with others, and, of course, to vote for me if you haven’t already. Please feel free to email or call me (Denny@electdennyhamilton.org 360-440-3527)
Here is my idea of a P-R-O-M-I-S-E to Mason County
A true “Partnership for Progress” would assure greater public participation in decision-making. For example, we have a number of advisory committees. We need to seek their input and listen to their suggestions. We need to bring people together—who work in government, in business, in education, and in non-profit service organizations—to form new partnerships. These partnerships would bring people and ideas together. They would maximize our potential to make progress in Mason County. What do you think?
We need to protect and use our resources wisely. We have abundant natural resources—fresh water, saltwater, forests, highlands, lowlands, shellfish, salmon, birds, timber. We can share our experience with these resources by encouraging others to visit and enjoy them here.
We also must recognize that our young people and our seniors are our most valuable resources. Some people see seniors as a burden to bear and young people as a trial to get through. I see them as genuine resources. Young people are walking the road of life into the future. We need to encourage and support their journey. Seniors have walked along their road, are still on the road and they can point out some things to avoid and some things not to miss. Perhaps we can get some young people and some seniors to sit together and share their stories. Could be one-on-one, could be a small groups.
I want to strike out against the most debilitating form of poverty…the poverty of opportunity by creating new opportunities and preparing young people to access and take advantage of opportunities that are already available. I’ve seen a single treadle sewing machine and a few hours of training turn a poor village in Burma into a children’s clothing business that employed 30 women. I have seen kids breaking rocks in a quarry in India get an opportunity to go to school and become teachers. I have seen child prostitutes in Tanzania and child soldiers in Liberia who graduated from high school and went on to further training, because somebody recognized that what they needed was an opportunity. We may not have these kinds of dire circumstances here, but we have people living among us who are stuck. We need to be creative about identifying opportunities and building capacities that make it possible to pursue them.
We need to share a vision of what we want Mason County to become. We, together, need to identify what we want our place to be in the future. We need t chart a course. It’s our future. It should be our vision. The future is starts now. Let’s lead the way into the future and not be handed a future we don’t want by a group of people who have planned for us and haven’t asked us our opinion.
We need to provide the environment for industry—in the clean industry, small business sense of the word. We need to help folks develop management skills by working with organizations like the small business development center and supporting start-up programs that provide entrepreneurial training like Washington CASH and Enterprise for Equity. We need to support those industries that already exist.
We need to get clear about and get on the “solution side” of problems. I’m a pretty good listener and I want to be up front about my approach. If you think something’s broken, I’ll be there to listen, but I don’t just want to hear that you think it is broken. I’ll want to listen to how you think we can fix it—and I will also listen to the ideas of the person sitting next to you and how he or she thinks it can be fixed.
Even though the county is not the entity responsible for education in our state, what we do at the county level impacts on the educational experience of our children and youth. We can expand on what we do well, improve where we could do better, and get more young people on a solid path to their future. Educators can become active partners in the “partnership for progress”—helping students develop small business skills, gain experience and prepare for their first job (for a lot of reasons, some kids who want to work just don’t know how to work). We can support ideas that are already out there like developing courses about solid waste, storm water and basic forest management. Community college certifications in these areas could create opportunities for entry into these professions. We can also expand our access to academia, by working to create a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math magnet school—a STEM school.