Candidate Spotlight: Paige Davenport

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The Observer visited the campaign office for Paige Davenport, a ramshackle FEMA-issued trailer in Devil’s Pocket. Council candidate Davenport shares it with Jayda Ferrentino and Rabid Calhern, her partners in the #Hope4Hathian campaign. With a door that sticks, no heat or AC, and a smell of live raccoons in the air, the office isn’t much. But sharing what we have and making the best of it, the candidate told us, is what the #Hope4Hathian campaign is about.

Paige sat down for an interview with us on a pair of lawn chairs outside the office. We got right down to the issues.

Observer: What goals do you wish to achieve if elected?

Paige Davenport: To mobilize all the people so that their vision for Hathian’s future becomes a reality. The Hope for Hathian campaign – Rabid, Jayda, Janey Hopkins and myself – have specific plans and policy priorities that can help this happen. But it takes inspiring people to democratic action – not just some of the people, but all.

This strategy and spirit of involving everyone in the process has highlighted key issues. The one that people care about most, but that many – the other candidates most of all – avoid addressing is the conduct of the HPD. We must restore trust in our law enforcement by better communication and accountability.

We also have a variety of youth initiatives to get Seaside Youth Center and Columtreal University students truly involved in the larger community, rather than isolating them. We want to subtly but significantly redesign how drug crimes are handled, offering counseling time as an alternative to jail time. We want to decriminalize prostitution. And in the economic sector, we have to break down the barriers between small business owners by forming a Chamber of Commerce, so that community events can involve all businesses – not an isolated few.

O: You describe issues with the HPD as a subject others are avoiding, but many candidates have spoke about restoring trust. Some even want greater law enforcement presence, like criminal background checks that would prevent people from positions at Seaside or other institutions. How can you say you’re the only one talking about HPD issues?

PD: I say that because no candidate is talking about what the real issue is with HPD – police brutality and corruption. I work closely with the police, as their Forensic Psychiatrist, and consulted on major offenders like Cross, Henusaki and Delacroix. I know there are many decent and devoted officers. Jeremiah Xuanzang and Angel Moonshadow come immediately to mind. But there are officers that exploit people, dodge the law and abuse their power.

The reason why that persists is because HPD feels threatened by the people and the people feel threatened by HPD. I’ve often heard from officers I worked with that they, too, felt powerless to change the system, because if they reported a fellow officer, they themselves would suffer and the abusive officer would receive no punishment.

This has to change. Simply excusing the HPD’s behavior by saying, like Zipporah said, “they are really trying,” is not enough. And community outreach by HPD – like “Officer Friendly Programs” – is not enough. It sugar coats the issue.

How to change it is bold, but simple: We will have an Oversight Committee, formed by the City Government, to watch the HPD – watch their files, observe the major officers’ conduct, watch crime scene conduct, and so forth. The Committee will be formed by having each Councilmember and the Mayor nominate an Oversight member. Once all nominations are in, the Council and Mayor votes collectively on each potential member. If more members are required, we’ll repeat the process.

This is a real plan for real accountability. That’s what our Hope for Hathian campaign is about – not just empty statements or vague policy proposals; real plans. And all our plans aren’t restricted to an elite – they the people involved.

O: That’s the second time you’ve mentioned “elites” and talked about getting “all” people involved. Does that mean those with criminal records too?

PD: Involving all people in all levels is what Hathian should be all about. I’ll be blunt – what holds Hathian back isn’t any one problem or institution. It’s that select cliques of people wield too much influence.

This makes the common people – newcomers or those with pasts they’re trying to escape – cynical. Last night in the first of our Columtreal rallies, I saw a young woman who began listening to us with a frown, brightened, and then, when the speeches were over, sank back into sadness. And that is a face, a feeling, I have seen countless times in Hathian.

People want to do amazing things here. But they feel they can’t. And the reason they feel they can’t is because they feel like they do not, and will never, belong to the inner circles that hold power. We have to come up with real, practical plans – and help make them happen – to rid that feeling.

The other candidates aren’t addressing this issue at all, either. That’s because the major candidates are among those elites. They have strong support out the gate, because they’re backed by the active powers in the community. But we will inspire the people to use the power in them.

O: What are the specific plans you talk about that’ll change this “clique” system?

P: All our plans have that as their spirit and their function. The Oversight Committee, for instance, has to be approved democratically. But I’ll give you another, major example – an example that will keep this new democratic system flourishing: Our Youth Intern program.

Here’s what the Hope for Hathian campaign proposes for Seaside and Columtreal. And bear in mind, this isn’t a cloudy “more fairs and games” idea like the other candidates propose. From the moment we enter office, every Hope for Hathian candidate will select two “Interns” from Hathian’s youth – one from Seaside and one from Columtreal. Those Interns will be chosen from those who did the most to support their community – from a real record of action. We won’t pick our friends; we’ll pick those who’ve proven themselves friends to this community.

This pair of interns will help their candidate administer government, at all levels. They will be dispatched to meet with group leaders, to help small businesses communicate, to assist the Oversight Committee, and to overall help make policy a reality. This will not only help enact policy, but it will educate our next generation of leaders. Rabid, Jayda, Janey and I realize that we are just the beginning. The ones that will truly prove the worth of Hathian’s government are the young ones that follow in our footsteps, and we have to do all we can to prepare them to not only succeed us, but to surpass us.

O: The trend in your policies does seem to be specific “new groups” and “new activities,” but you mentioned drug laws. Do you hope to change the laws, like the many other candidates who proposed legalization of marijuana?

PD: Clearly, the people of Hathian want legalization of marijuana. That’s easily done with such support. And that’s just it – so many other candidates are choosing easy solutions. Well, this is a hard community to grow up in. Hard to live in. And we need hard solutions. So our Hope for Hathian campaign’s drug policy doesn’t begin and end with, “pot is now legal, so you can’t get arrested for it.”

We are going to give choices to people arrested for all drug crimes and minor offenses. It will no longer be a process of booking a citizen for a crime and then having them serve time in Hathian jail. Under the Hope for Hathian campaign, anyone booked for a minor crime or drug offense can choose to serve their time being counseled by an HGH or CU Clinic drug, abuse or anger counselor.

Not only does this give people a chance to help out as counselors, it gives the arrested person a chance to evolve – a chance to change, rather than suffer more. Jail so often only adds to suffering. Now, the choice can be between hours in counseling or hours in jail – between personal growth and building character, or simply undergoing incarceration.

It’s a simple fix to HPD’s process that, I am sure, they won’t mind. But it will make an enormous difference in the lives of average Hathian citizens who suffer from drug addiction or impulse control issues.

Ah, and, like I said, we’re legalizing prostitution. Prostitution laws criminalize women’s bodies, and that’s a crime itself.

O: You’ve talked on a lot of group activities, and even your campaign’s approach to drugs seems to require more activity. But what are you doing for the businesses and institutions that already exist?

PD: Our Chamber of Commerce idea – an official body, with scheduled parties and planning sessions, so that business owners can meet one another. We have a lot of terrific businesses in Hathian – some that have been owned by the same people for ages, some with new business owners who are so inspired to get things done. But these individuals so seldom coordinate. And often, businesses wither away without community support.

If we – the Hope for Hathian government – are elected, we will do all we can to bring our business owners together. We will include all business owners in a Chamber of Commerce. Not just – and excuse me for saying it again – the elite. This Chamber will have a website. It will have a calendar with notifications to its members. And that calendar will have events like meet ups, seminars, parties, and so much other fun, inspiring things, so that business owners – new and old – can get to know one another and share ideas.

It’s another specific, practical solution that relies on the creativity of Hathian. I don’t just believe we can make it happen. I believe we must make it happen. This community must be what a community is meant to be – a democratic body composed of all people. No more ivory tower elites. No more blue shield around HPD. Total cooperation and total accountability.

It’s like my slogan says: We are the authors of our tomorrow, so let us create it together.

O: Thank you for your time, Candidate Davenport.

PD: Thank you, Trent.

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