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Lederman highlights vision for Springfield City Council in 2023 (The Reminder)

Read the original Reminder Article by Matt Conway here.

SPRINGFIELD – City Council President Jesse Lederman and City Council Vice President Melvin Edwards were officially inaugurated as the City Council’s 2023 leadership team on Jan. 2. Lederman utilized the inauguration ceremony to highlight his goals for the upcoming year.

Lederman and Edwards both received unanimous support from the council during an informal caucus on Dec. 19. Both assumed their positions midway through 2022 after former Ward 5 City Council President Marcus Williams resigned from the council on May 31.

In his inaugural address, Lederman discussed his first six months as president while looking ahead to 2023. He also took time to reflect on his personal journey from being a young community activist to the leader of the City Council.

“I first came to this chamber nearly 15 years ago as a young person looking to stop a waste incinerator from being constructed in the center of the city I love. Today, I stand before you as the 35th president of the Springfield City Council,” said Lederman.

Lederman thanked family, friends, community members and his peers on the City Council for their support. He highlighted the City Council as a group with diverse perspectives that work towards the collective goal of improving Springfield.

“I often say that the City Council is the closest elected body to the people. I believe that strongly to this day. There is a reason that there are 13 of us elected to this body. Our initiatives and legislation are made stronger, better and more effective as a result of our different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives that each member here brings to this work,” said Lederman.

Lederman utilized his first six months as president to improve accessibility within local government. He proposed a new remote participation policy that received City Council approval and shepherded the creation of the Working Group on Civic Engagement – a community volunteer group that created eight resolutions for improving local government.

“I look forward to working towards implementation of all their recommendations, including establishing text and e-mail alerts for City Council meetings, developing an online portal for the public to sign up and speak out before the City Council and implementing an internship program for high school and college students to allow the next generation of leaders a chance to be a part of the work of the City Council,” said Lederman.

Lederman announced several other new projects for 2023. He shared that the city’s Information Technology Department will launch social media pages to improve accessibility to City Council. In addition, Lederman aspires to implement his recently-passed legislation to establish a public listing for all board and commission vacancies.

Following the success of the Working Group on Civic Engagement, Lederman announced the creation of four new working groups across 2023 – the Working Group on Neighborhood Quality of Life, the Working Group on Digital Equity and Internet Access, the Working Group on Creative Economy and Tourism and the Working Group on Labor and Workforce Development.

“I was so impressed with the work and process of the Working Group on Civic Engagement that today I am announcing four new Working Groups to engage even more residents around core issues in our community,” said Lederman.

Similar to the civic engagement working group, community volunteers will collaborate to submit a series of resolutions regarding specific community sectors. Ward 8 City Councilor Zaida Govan, Ward 2 City Councilor Michael Fenton, City Councilor At-Large Sean Curran and Edwards will chair each working group.

In addition, Lederman announced the creation of two special committees. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Oversight Committee will monitor the expenditure of ARPA funds awarded in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. City Councilor At-Large Tracye Whitfield will chair the committee and serve as the City Council’s designee on the ARPA Advisory Committee.

The other committee will be the Impacted Neighborhood Stabilization Fund Oversight Committee. The group will analyze the ongoing implementation of funds derived from legalized cannabis sales in neighborhoods most impacted by the war on drugs. Ward 1 City Councilor Maria Perez will chair the committee.

Lederman concluded his remarks by reflecting on his vision for 2023.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us. Some might call such an agenda ambitious - I call it necessary and achievable. I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact that can result when we come together in good faith to take on the issues that face our community and I know we will do so in 2023. Let’s get to work,” said Lederman.

Lt. Gov Kim Driscoll attended the ceremony and offered remarks. She highlighted the significance of the City Council’s ongoing efforts.

“The work you will undertake in this chamber is going to impact the quality of life of the residents of this city not just today, but tomorrow and years after that,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll also praised Springfield as a community that continues to prosper despite numerous challenges.

“Under the pandemic pressure [and] through many toils the city of Springfield has had, you did not just thrived, you overcame every obstacle come before you. The city has continued to grow,” said Driscoll.

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