by Matt Ausec
Growing up in a home with two teachers as parents, one of the core values I developed was to serve the public. All of my life I have paid attention to the quality of life that I have experienced compared to the quality of life others experience. The injustices that I witnessed drove me to study political science, public administration, and to focus my career on working public service jobs. The reason that I worked hard to get elected to a second job with no pay and long hours was to expand the impact I make with my life to improve the quality of life for all the people in my community. I am honored for the opportunity to further my life’s work of service.
I am excited that this city council is undergoing a major strategic planning effort that spans the whole of the city for the first time. This work fits into my experience in my career and shows that the city is laying a foundation to tackle problems in a way that prioritizes the public needs, as gathered through public input. Once complete, this strategic plan will improve visibility into what the city does and the reasoning for city actions. The city will be able to demonstrate how it gathers public input, so people know how to be heard, and how the city uses that input to reach decisions.
As I knocked on so many doors and visited neighborhood associations, the most common comments I heard were regarding transportation. Sidewalks especially drew criticism as there are not even sidewalks to get children to school in some Ward 5 neighborhoods. The lack of bus service on nights and weekends also makes it difficult for people to get to work, to grocery stores, visit doctors or family members. And my neighbors are concerned about the safety of people living in homelessness and the impacts on the public spaces.
The strategic planning process will enable the city to gather public input to shape the budget and work of the city to meet the sidewalk, transit, affordable housing, and public safety needs that I have heard from the people of Ward 5 are their greatest concerns. This plan will also give the public the ability to hold the city accountable for meeting their needs.
In my personal time I enjoy spending every moment I can with my two dogs, usually walking in River Road Park or one of the other wonderful parks in our community. We really enjoy taking advantage of the new Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge. I look forward to seeing the city’s solutions to these major needs improve the quality of life in Salem as I walk around a city that has much greater connectivity and safety.
Matt Ausec earned a BA in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration. When he isn’t representing Ward 5 on Salem City Council, he oversees projects across state government for the State of Oregon.
Salem Weekly invites all city councilors to address constituents with Opinions in Salem Weekly. This is one of a series!