As announced on CNN last week, we’re hosting a forum of the leading Democratic presidential candidates at our Pentecost 2007 event (Mary will also be speaking at the conference). We’ve invited several of our bloggers to discuss their questions for the candidates, but we’re also asking our readers to submit their questions, and TOMORROW will let YOU vote on the ones we should use!
Little of the campaign rhetoric has touched on the issues and concerns of our low-income, minority communities, and how to help people move out of poverty. We know that it will take personal responsibility, government action, and partnership efforts with communities of faith and the corporate sector. But it will take presidential leadership to move forward.
Jonathan Kozol, in the Shame of the Nation, calls the re-segregation of public schools and the great disparity between schools in wealthy communities and in low income communities the damnation of our future, perpetuated by financing schools on property taxes and our public lack of concern for equity in education. What is your plan, candidates, for enabling quality public education for every child? For fairness in funding of public education?
Rising costs, gentrification of communities, drastically reduced government subsidies and incentives have created a dire shortage of decent housing affordable for low income people; most poor are paying over 50 percent of their income for crammed substandard housing. What are your plans to deal with this crisis? How do we help enable mixed-income communities, with spaces and places for “community” to happen?
Rising fuel costs and reduced air quality mandate a redirection of federal transportation dollars and incentives toward public mass transportation. Yet highways still get most of the transportation funds and incentives, and public transportation is struggling to stay afloat. What are your plans to deal with redirecting our efforts towards fast, efficient, and affordable public transportation?
Mary Nelson is president and CEO of Bethel New Life, a 24-year-old faith-based community development corporation on the west side of Chicago. She is also a board member of Sojourners/Call to Renewal.