Why do Murrray's campaign signs say "2018?"
Dennis Murray Jr., Sandusky's former state representative who also previously served as a city commissioner, provided the following answer:
2018 is Sandusky's bicentennial. If you've had a chance to learn about Sandusky's history, you know we had roughly 165 years of dynamic and sometimes even explosive growth. We built things, tore them down, started new businesses to replace old ones, moved streets and parks and City Hall around to meet the needs of the times.
And then we stopped. Thirty years ago or so we became fearful and even suspicious of change. Now we've been shrinking. I know, there have been a lot of other forces at work here, but clearly we lost our moxie. I want us to get it back, and here is one way that I think we might do it.
Let's celebrate Sandusky's history, and at the same time develop a plan for the future. Let's invite historians, the Sandusky Library, the Follett House Museum, and anyone else who wants to contribute to explore all of the great — and not so great — things that we've done. Let's learn from successes and failures.
As we celebrate our history, let's engage all of Sandusky's stakeholders in a discussion about a plan for our future:
• Who and what do we want to be in five years? In ten years?
• What services do we want to keep?
• Are they all worth the cost?
• How will we pay for what we want to keep?
• Can we help ourselves and other local governments by collaborating?
By stakeholders, I mean a group broader than just voters, even though they remain the core. I mean to include children; people who work here and pay taxes but leave for home each night just outside our borders; giant and small businesses whose investments are critical to our future; major institutions like Sandusky City Schools and Firelands Regional Medical Center; and our local government partners.
All of these should be asked about how they envision Sandusky and how we can help each other realize that vision. This process will take time and will range from town halls, to neighborhood coffees to meetings with the Chamber of Commerce and many others.
I propose that we celebrate and plan by passing legislation to create a Sandusky Bicentennial Commission, a public-private partnership with full authority to accept donations and spend money. Commission appointees would have five-year terms and be accountable to and yet independent of the city commission.
The bicentennial commission would lead the celebration of our history. The city commission would need to be more closely involved with discussion about our future, but the independence of the bicentennial commissioners will provide the freedom to ask questions that cause politicians to winch — like what are we going to cut, or how are we going to raise revenues including taxes.
At the end of this five-year process, we would have a celebration, also lead by the bicentennial commission. It's like what we do at great Irish wakes — we stop to remember, to give thanks, to toast our loved ones. And then we move on because tomorrow arrives regardless of whether we are ready.
We, Sandusky, are not ready. Sandusky needs a plan that extends beyond answering the phones tomorrow. We are silently drifting into a budgetary crisis partially caused by the majority in Ohio's legislature for which Ohio's cities are not a priority.
Regardless of the cause, help is not on the way.
Today's successful cities take control of their own destinies and don't just drift. The cuts of 2014 will be painful, equal to 10 percent of Sandusky's general fund (about $16 million annually) And yet there is no choice. Indeed, there has been no discussion about what to cut or even a question about how to replace lost revenues. Absent a discussion and plan, we can only wield an indiscriminate meat ax at the budget.