Rachell Vond-Washborne, one of the candidates in the election and sponsored by local business Bottoms Up, announced during the exclusive with the Observer that she plans on running for Mayor instead of City Council.
“People have voiced their faith in me, and I have faith in this city. I want to do everything possible to make our dreams come true, and that starts with this election.” Vond-Washborne stated.
The observer got the full exclusive with the newly revealed Mayor candidate.
Observer: What goals do you wish to achieve if elected?
Rachell Vond-Washborne: My goals are simple. I want to improve Hathian from the ground up. Seaside is where our children get their beginnings, where they first learn how to be good citizens. The basis of these lessons are our teachers, our administrative staff. I would love to see more in the way of background checks for all Seaside employees. How can someone be entrusted without children if we wouldn’t trust them alone in our homes?
The school itself could use a pick-me-up as well. I would see about organizing fundraisers, the proceeds of which would go to benefit the school entirely. This could be anything from bake sales, car washes run by the kids and their families, to dances, to candy bar sales.
O: How do you plan on funding these new ideas for Seaside as well as helping children who are homeless and without proper supplies food unable to pay for lunches that sort of thing? This extends into my concern for the poverty levels in our city in general. What are your plans on improving those issues?
RVW: Funding is definitely a factor in our school system, and most assuredly the city as a whole. Our newly formed council would need to work hand in hand with our new mayor, to re-allocate funds to have the greatest impact on our city.
Also, on a smaller level, that’s where some of those fundraisers could come into play. If there was a family who was particularly in need, or a child that was not able to afford clothes for school, or food, additional aid could be offered in those instances. There are other forms of community involvement I would like to see. Projects like the Angel Tree, to ensure that all kids have a present to open on Christmas morning, or Coats for the Cold, allowing citizens to donate a new or gently used coat so that the children can stay warm. These projects could originate within the school and extend into the community.
It all comes down to helping one another, to working together to make our city better. My childhood was spent in poverty myself. I spent the majority of my teenage years homeless, not knowing where my next meal would come from. I don’t want to see a single citizen of Hathian forced to live that way, to feel that fear for themselves or their families.
O: What about things like a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, those type of things? Do you plan on trying for those type things to help out the homeless?
RVW: Things like that, definitely. When the city budget is re-evaluated, those items are near the top of my list. Ultimately, I would like to see a shelter of sorts open. A temporary living environment for the homeless. Within the shelter, the residents would receive aid in getting a job. They would pay by contributing to the household, doing their fair share of chores and the like. Ideally, the shelter would be run primarily on donations from citizens, or proceeds from select fundraisers.
O: What about supporting small businesses? What are your plans for that?
RVW: Small businesses are a constant concern for any city. Its these businesses that keep our economy going, after all. I would like to see small businesses have a liaison to ensure they have suitable insurance. In the event of a fire, or a natural disaster, these businesses would be able to rebuild or survive. Small businesses also bolster the economy in that when people hear of our businesses, it sets us apart from every other city. No other place in Louisiana has a Bottoms Up. This distinction also allows our city to offer more jobs to our citizens. Without small businesses, the unemployment rate would skyrocket, so these businesses must be preserved and fostered, so the city can thrive as a whole.
Small businesses, also, are more receptive to ideas pertaining to community outreach, as I mentioned before. By helping them, we help our community, our homeless, and allow all members of the community to benefit. Thriving local businesses will generate higher levels of revenue, which will lead to higher taxes, including local taxes. This money is used to improve our municipalities as well as schools. By helping one part of our community, we help all of our community. Its these simple steps that make the difference, the change that I wish so desperately to see for all of us.
O: What about Health care? What is your stance there?
RVW: Hathian General does an amazing job providing healthcare for our city with the resources we have. As a physician there, I know this firsthand. But frankly, we just don’t have enough. Some equipment is outdated, there is a need for more operating rooms, better monitoring equipment, even security within the hospital. The administration do an amazing job, and have made great strides in improving the facility since they took over. It all comes down to funding. Our emergency bay is in dire need of expansion – in the event of more than two emergencies, some are forced to wait. This wait could mean the difference between life and death. In the event of a disaster such as another bombing, or mass shooting, who could make the decision, who lives and who dies? That simply cannot happen.
In addition to additional funding for the hospital, I would like to see training courses implemented for employees. Often there have been.. indiscretions… Things ending up on social media that should not. Things that are private matters that I would bet my last nickel were not shared by the patients willingly. HIPPA guidelines must still be followed. There should be accountability for those accessing the records room. I want badge entry installed to that door, so each person is not only caught on the security cameras, their name is tied to the visit as well. Patient privacy is a sadly overlooked issue and something we need to protect.
In addition, municipalities must work together to maintain our safety. HPD, FDH, and HGH must work hand in hand to ensure our city is a safe place to raise our children. HPD can no longer be seen as the enemy. Mistakes have been made in the past, nobody would deny that. Now is the time to look for the future, to make our city what we want it to be.
O: You have noted our funds have been limited….how do you propose you do all of these things with the limited funds?”
RVW: That’s where the re-allocation of funds comes into place. Having not gotten a look at the city’s budget at this point, I can’t speak for certain. But with most businesses, there are always corners that could be cut, or re-formatted, to maximize the benefit to all involved. By moving around just a few thousand a year, we could see the beginnings of this change.
Also, this could be a way to incorporate HPD and show a new face for them as well. Sentences of community service could be given for reduced jail time – for certain offenses, of course. This community service could be done with the additions to the hospital, or just general upkeep around the city. People could volunteer time or resources to make these changes happen. Ultimately, none of us can do this alone. These changes that need to happen /must/ result from the willingness of all of us to work together and do what needs to be done.
Vond-Washborne concluded the interview, stating, “Politicians get a bad rap because so many are all talk and no action. Look at our local social media, many are refusing to even vote, because they refuse to believe any difference will be made. I have a different vision for Hathian. I know we can accomplish all these things and more.
This is my home. Its where my family is, where I plan to raise my children and grow old with my husband. Everything I’ve said invokes the community to take action, I’m asking something of them. How could I do that without giving my everything in return?”
The first round of voting starts on February 27th and runs through March 1st, 2015 so be sure to go down and let your voice be heard!