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A new campaign for Claremont

There’s no denying Claremont is in a tug-of-war. Like most cities in California, we are growing and changing, and I get the sense we’re all struggling with it a little. So as we move full force into the holidays—a time of gratitude and celebration then, with the new year, renewal—I’ve found myself trying to make sense of it.

Campaign withdrawals

Measure CR was tough on most everyone. The discussion online was rough for anyone who dared to enter the debate. Residents who were opposed were shunned by friends and labeled as ungrateful. For those who supported the sales tax increase, the suggestion was they were gullible to fall for it or, even worse, that they were part of the city’s grand scheme to dupe voters. There is no truth to or value in reinforcing either narrative.

The future challenges for Claremont are great. We have financial hurdles approaching that, to be solved, are going to require better communication from all of us. Finding solutions to problems will be hard, but learning how to talk to each other will be even harder.

So how do we do it? How do we get people to commit to healthy interactions? How do we get people to invest? To me, the most obvious answer for a city as politically active as Claremont is to make it a campaign.

So, here it is—the launch of the Claremont Civility Initiative (CCI). I’m aware there are a handful of you rolling your eyes, but that’s okay, you’re still invited to join the campaign. I’ve talked it over with Mayor Corey Calaycay and he’s emphatically on board. And I’m hopeful the Pilgrims will come through to really get the ball rolling.

The mission of the CCI is simple: “As a community, we commit to listen to our neighbors, business owners and colleagues. As a community, we commit to working together to solve problems and to leave personal judgments aside when finding solutions to our city’s challenges.”

When we sign on, we agree to be held accountable for our actions during campaigns. That means no more comments about how so-and-so is voting, and no more whisper campaigns about people or businesses because they’re voting differently from you. And it most definitely means we will give our neighbors the freedom to vote however they want without being outcast from the community. This could be a great exercise for all of us and I am excited to begin receiving the names of those who will take the pledge.

To be listed as an endorser, which may include your name in future campaign literature, email Kathryn Dunn at editor@claremont-courier.com.

Protecting our police

A second city tug-of-war involves the Claremont Police Department. I’ll dive right in and say that, regardless of the status or outcome of contract negotiations, I fully support maintaining our own department; even if it costs us more. There are some residents who continue to push for an evaluation of the costs and service levels of contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. To be perfectly honest, I’m not interested.

The city shouldn’t exhaust vital resources—general fund money and staff time—for an analysis on something that the majority of Claremonters do not want. Public opinion should count and from my view it’s clear that only a very small percentage of residents are interested in going down that road.

In contracting with the sheriff, we would be agreeing to give up our school resource officer and DARE program and letting go of the close relationships we have built. Our police know the neighborhoods and they pay attention when we’re out of town. They know our kids and help us raise them.

Our officers know who the criminals are and watch for trends in crime. When a downtown pharmacy was once again broken into, Claremont police officers responded and caught the suspect in 15 seconds. I won’t put a price on that.

I’m not suggesting the police department get everything on its wish list— it might be that raises just aren’t in the cards right now—but I’d love to see support from residents for maintaining our local police department.

Between the poor conditions of the station, working with an un-negotiated contract and the cries from a vocal minority, I’m guessing our police aren’t feeling the warmth of the holiday season.

Money challenges aside, and whatever the outcome of contract negotiations, I want to thank our officers for the work they do every day to keep Claremont a safe city.

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