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As the Quad-City Times Editorial Board pointed out last week, the municipal election is only seven months away. Though I am currently the only declared mayoral candidate, I don’t want to wait to start talking about the issues and my ideas. Frankly, we have a lot of work to do.

First, let me briefly tell you about why I am running. Davenport is my hometown and my family's hometown. I love Davenport and the Quad Cities, and I want to help our community flourish. I have dedicated my life to public service. I served 21 years in the Army as a Ranger, including combat under Operation Enduring Freedom. I have spent the last 16 years teaching for the Davenport school system. I am currently serving my seventh term on city council, where I have worked to invest in our neighborhoods, businesses, riverfront and amenities.

The editorial noted the need to grow our economy. To do that, we need to invest in our community and our people. We must invest in the education and training of our citizens. Doing so will lead to greater household incomes and provide the skilled workforce that businesses need to grow. I want to lead collaboration between our businesses, unions, schools, community colleges and four-year colleges to ensure critical skills are taught, needs and opportunities are identified, and to make sure continuing education is possible and affordable. Davenport should also look for ways to help support our kids outside of the classroom, such as safe housing, extracurricular opportunities and after-school programs.

We also need to stem the flow of people leaving the Quad Cities and be a destination for people. This requires investing in our infrastructure, amenities, riverfront, downtowns and neighborhoods.

By ensuring Davenport is a place where people want to live, we will ensure a workforce that attracts business growth. More than half of new jobs are created by small businesses, so we must make sure we are providing strong support to our small businesses. Growing Davenport and revitalizing our central and core neighborhoods will also help Davenport Schools by improving enrollment.

Addressing our public safety concerns will be my top priority. I believe increasing crime, such as car theft and violence, is our most important challenge. We need more police on the street, and we need to focus on community policing. We created a gun crimes unit, but we need to grow that unit and the Neighborhoods Energized to Succeed (NETS) unit. We must continue to move forward with the Juvenile Assessment Center and expand community partnerships and engagement to support our at-risk youth.

We have tremendous opportunities for our infrastructure, but we also have tremendous needs. The City of Davenport has invested significantly on our streets, but we are not catching up. I want to develop a task force to address our infrastructure concerns, particularly how to make significant improvements to our streets.

I am excited by the plan presented by the Downtown Davenport Partnership and Figge and look forward to the eight-member task force's proposal for a project at the Main Street Landing. Going forward, we must seek the public’s opinion on each project we consider. However, Davenport cannot afford this alone. As mayor, I will bring private and other public sectors to the table and advocate for city funds that can leverage outside investment.

None of these issues can be solved on our own. As mayor, I will ensure Davenport helps lead our region by example. I will look for further ways to collaborate and partner with other local governments and ensure we support and leverage all of our assets on both sides of the Mississippi River.

I will also be an advocate for Davenport at the state and federal levels by advancing our region's priorities and pushing-back against legislation that reduces local control or threatens our citizens' wellbeing.

As mayor, I will be a voice for everyone. The diversity and complexity of the Quad Cities is our greatest opportunity, if we work together. I promise to listen to you and work tirelessly to make Davenport and the Quad Cities an excellent place to live, work, and play.

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Mike Matson is Davenport's 7th Ward alderman

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