January has been a month of change and increased activity, starting with elections on the Community Council, and interweaving in citizen activism for the 45 days that the legislature is in session. I am orders of magnitude more involved that I was this time last year.
The Community Council of Midvale elected their executive committee. I was invited to step outside my comfort zone by being nominated and unanimously elected to the post of Secretary. I am honored to serve in that capacity. Please join me in congratulating the rest of the 2015 executive committee:
- Floyd Tarbet, Chairperson
- Serafina Ochoa, First Vice Chair
- Larry Laxman, Second Vice Chair
- Bruce Boggess, Treasurer
I also signed up for the Community Emergency Response Team training held in Midvale. We are currently 3/5 of the way through this class. This training is free if you are a resident and finish the class. Jesse Valenzeula, Midvale's new Emergency Manager, is looking for more people to help fill up this class in March so they can keep providing it. Please check it out.
Meanwhile, I have been going door-to-door; and, as usual, I met some great people.
Residents of the Applewood mobile home park are concerned that the new owners are liable to close the fixed income senior mobile park. They have pending legislation and have had media coverage via the HOA. The difficulty for the mobile home owners is that the cost of moving the manufactured homes is probably more than the residents can handle. There is nothing, unfortunately, the City of Midvale can do to help the residents keep their homes at this point. My heart goes out to anybody who feels forced to move. The developer, Representative Ken Ivory, has been told by the City of Midvale that he must give two years notice to residents before he can force them out. While a new developer is about to start building a beautiful senior apartment complex, this is not going to meet the needs of many of these residents who would be forced to part with the furry children and companions. For many of these residents, these are the only family they have, since the economic downturn of the last decade forced many of their children and grandchildren to move out of state.
The City of Midvale is getting ready to kick off their General Plan, a document containing the vision that will guide development in the city for the next 20 years. If you would like to have your voice heard, come to the Open House at 7505 S Holden in Midvale from 4 pm to 6:30 pm on February 17. The Project Team will be presenting their plan to the City Council in the same building at 7 pm.
Web Site Tweaks
I have made a few tweaks to the website. I was inspired by an image that I saw and decided to revisit the drawing board with my logo. I wanted a logo that spoke of caring, compassion, and love; after all, it was love and it remains love and compassion that has led me to community service: love for my self, my wife, my communities, and the children we must eventually leave this world to. The logo is almost complete. It's just going through some artistic touch-up.
I also updated the voicemail message for (801) 658-0545 so that it's clear that you've contacted the right person. I was a little suspicious when I received a voice mail that had 2 seconds of silence, and called the number to hear the weirdest default voice mail message ever.
Finally, I updated the volunteer page to allow electronic endorsement and other activities. Don't be shy, check it out.
On the second Saturday in January, the Utah Stonewall Democrats also elected their new executive committee. Congratulations are well deserved for:
- Becky Moss, Chair,
- Rudy Miera, Vice Chair,
- Ryan Curtis, Secretary,
- Alan Anderson, Treasurer, and
- Jandy Stelter, At Large
Following the meeting, I secured the endorsement of another community leader before I attended the Town Hall meeting by Representative Bruce Cutler to find out what legislation he is working on and to provide my input. There were several pieces of legislation that I brought to his attention, asking for his support:
- Funding for roads, but not by increasing taxes on fuel-efficient vehicles,
- Full Medicaid expansion, and a
- Living wage
The following weekend Restore Our Humanity held their Mass Anniversary and Award Celebration. I was thrilled to see that the person I had recommended, Rachel Heller, was awarded Transgender Activist of the Year for her work. The rest of the award recipients are just as deserving.
The 2015 legislative session is about halfway through. I have already made numerous trips to the Capitol to listen to legislators present their bills. Like last year, I have been going to Senator Jim Dabakis's Caucus meetings. This year, I also joined the Women's State Legislative Council and am attending their meetings, as well as a legislative roundup hosted by the Young Democrats, and I attended Citizen Lobbyist training provided by Equality Utah, Alliance for a Better Utah, and PPAC. I strongly encourage everyone who can, to get involved in the ways they can.
Another tweak I had to make to my website was the sharing tag on my about page. A devout follower saw that it said that I was running for the legislature in 2016, assumed I knew what I was doing and shared it on both FaceBook and Twitter. My plans have changed. I have no intention for a #sophia2016 at this time. As a community servant, 2015 means focusing on statewide advocacy and local concerns.
Ben Winslow asked: "@sjhawes Does this mean we can start the 'Sophia for Mayor/Council' political rumor mill? *grins*"
I have not ruled that option out yet. Midvale does need leadership that listens, leadership that cares.
For those of you who want to know my platform, I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all persons and the interconnectedness of everything of which we are a part. To that end, the top 3 issues I advocate for at the state level are:
- Equal Opportunity for All,
- Protecting Our Air and Water,
- Access to Healthcare.
As a community servant at the local level, I also believe that we need to strike a balance between Corporations and Community. To that end, I am keeping an eye toward the following top areas:
- The safety and security of our neighborhoods,
- Ensuring corporate social responsibility, and
- Protecting our marginalized communities while honoring our cultural roots.
Happy Valentine's Day
In closing, I want to wish you and yours a Happy Valentine's Day. It is the season of Love, after all. In exchange for sharing my heath insurance discrimination story with Equality Utah, to be added to a book of discrimination stories for legislators, I was given a free ticket to the Freedom Brunch in the Rotunda on Valentine's Day, a $75 dollar value I would not normally be able to afford since being laid off a month ago. I am hoping to also celebrate a new job on that day since I have three phone interviews scheduled for this week with very promising positions.
I also foresee going out to see a movie with my wife, maybe something romantic, like Jupiter Rising.
In love and service to our communities,