Guest Op Ed by long time resident of Stockton and active community member, especially when it comes to the city’s history, Kevin Shawver.
“TO INSPIRE A NOBLER CIVIC LIFE, TO FULFILL JUSTICE, TO SERVE THE PEOPLE”
These words stand tall and proud, literally etched in stone. Words in stone are symbolic of what should be permanent, what should never be forgotten. Words in stone are seen on monuments, mostly seen on headstones to honor the dead, the fallen, our heroes, our loved ones. Words in stone also are also found on monuments simply to serve as a reminder of what is, and what will always be. They serve as reminders to current and future generations, commemorative to the hard work and sacrifice of those before us, and to the ideals of which we are proud.
These words are carved deeply in the stone work above the doors of Stockton City Hall. These words were put there long ago by City leaders. They were put there as a promise, a promise meant to be kept, a promise for the future. A promise to the people of Stockton.
Have these words lost their meaning? Has the promise been broken?
I’ve been around for quite awhile, 63 years. I’ve had the extreme pleasure of seeing Stockton for what it once was, a viable community of hard working families. A city that had industries and plentiful jobs. A city with a sense of value, and a sense of purpose. A city of opportunity and prosperity available to those who so much as put a foot forward to achieve it. A safe city, a city of law and order. A clean city. I saw a city that was actually a destination to some, and not just a place to get gas as you were traveling through. I saw downtown when it was an absolutely beautiful place to be. I saw a city that was healthy and thriving.
It changed. First a slow change, and then a rapid decline. I so badly want to stay optimistic, hoping there will one day be a change for the better, but I can’t. I want to love my city like I once did, but I can’t. The only thing that will change my feelings about Stockton now, will probably never happen. At least, not in my lifetime. I’m not choosing to feel this way, but there comes a point when you see your optimism and hope as being futile. I now hope, I now pray, that I’m wrong.
I now see Stockton as a city whose pulse is weak. A city that will die if positive changes aren’t made. Those changes can only be made by us. No need for details. We all know what ails this city, and we know that our current city leaders are indifferent to what we, the people, really need and really want.
I want the words at the top of this page to once again have meaning. I want the words at the top of the page to be a reaffirmed promise. We all deserve that promise to be kept. City elections will be coming soon. I don’t care who or what you vote for. Just get out there. We had an extremely low turnout for the last elections. We must be proactive in deciding our own fate, deciding our own future. Only we can make change. Don’t expect it to be made for you. Don’t leave it up to others.
Vote with your head, not with your heart. Vote for those who have no political aspirations past City government. Vote for those with no ties to developers. Vote for the best candidate, not the one with the most yard signs. Vote out the ineffective. Vote for those who care about you and your Stockton. Use your head. Read and learn about who you’re voting for. Your future, and the future of your children, depend on it. Encourage others, friends and family, to go to the polls and let their voices be heard. Vote for change.
Vote, but be sure your vote is an informed and intelligent decision.