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Kalamazoo City Commission candidate Tracy Hall
Candidate For City Commission Tracy Hall Of Kalamazoo
By Crystal A. Proxmire
Originally printed 10/3/2013 (Issue 2140 - Between The Lines News)
Tracy Hall is a candidate for the City Commission in Kalamazoo this November. She is also an instructor at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, teaching gender and women's studies, political science and sociology. She has lived in Kalamazoo for over 20 years, and she and her wife Melissa have been together for over seven years. They were married in Connecticut in 2011.
1. What are the most important issues facing Kalamazoo right now?
The most important issues are the budget deficit, lack of revenues, and poverty. Kalamazoo is facing a budget shortfall of over $2 million. Due to the economic downturn that has hit the state and the country, limitations have been put on our revenue sources. As a community, Kalamazoo must improve the revenue system so that we can continue to provide much needed services. Currently, Kalamazoo's poverty rate is at roughly 40 percent. For a community that is home to three institutions of higher education and some of the best minds in the state, this is unacceptable. We should be doing more to lift up those who are in poverty and help them to succeed. When one section of our community is struggling, our entire community struggles. We need to pull together as a community to solve these problems.
2. How long were you with the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center and what did you do there that will help you on the council?
I was at the KGLRC for two years. I still continue to volunteer on the Pride steering committee. The three most important things I learned that will be beneficial for me: budget, programming and working with people from all walks of life. Much of my work involved managing budgets for our programs and grants. I had to create them and work within the constraints of those budgets. I pride myself on having the capacity to stay within budget parameters. I was a good steward of the donations and grant funds the Center received and know that I would be mindful of the City's budget, work to cut waste, and be a great steward of the people's money. I have created, implemented, maintained, and evaluated programs for a multitude of different populations. Because of this, I have learned how to research specific issues and find the best practices for tackling them. Lastly, because of the diversity that is within the LGBT community, I have the unique ability to work with people from across all walks of life. I know how important it is to listen to everyone and I possess the ability to be the voice for those who do not have one, even those voices that are often drowned out within the LGBT community.
3. Do you have any endorsements we should mention?
South Central AFL-CIO
4. Why should people vote for you?
Because I am the new voice this city needs to address our issues. I see the importance of listening to those who feel they have not traditionally been heard, and I work to make sure I am including all voices in everything that I do. Because of my educational and teaching background, I have a strong understanding of the local political process. I have a sound understanding of the issues that are impacting our community.
Additionally, I care strongly about poverty and education; both are issues that need to be addressed in the city. I have struggled with both of these issues. Coming from a single-parent family and being in a relationship that is not recognized by state law, I have dealt with the crisis of poverty in my personal life for years. In addition, working as a college professor has given me the ability to work with students from all walks of life, some of whom are not prepared for college. I am able to see the educational inequities not as words in a report, but as students in my class. Due to my background, I will bring in strong ideas on how we, as a community, can address these issues.
5. Have you gotten any negative response being an LGBT candidate?
No, I haven't. Kalamazoo is an incredibly welcoming city, and much of the political community has accepted me.
6. Do you know if KZOO has had any out-elected officials before?
Yes, Terry Kuseske was the first elected out official on the Kalamazoo City Commission. If elected, I would be the first out lesbian to serve on the Commission. This would be a personal honor and valued accomplishment.
To learn more about Hall and her campaign, visit her website at http://hallforkzoo.com or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tracyhall4kzoo.
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