Stacie Hargis for City Council kickoff speech

I asked Stacie Hargis to share her remarks from last Thursday’s kickoff of her campaign for Lowell City Council. Here’s what she had to say:

Growing up, my father’s job required us to move every three to four years. This meant I lived in many cities and towns around the US and, as I got older, the travel bug stayed with me. But when I arrived in Lowell, I felt truly at home for the first time. I fell in love with Lowell’s people, diversity, and strong sense of community. Our city’s commitment to the arts, and to the preservation of our unique history and architecture, is a tribute to our residents and their values.

I will never forget my first visit: I went to the Comfort Furniture on Dutton street. The gentleman who was helping us stopped in front of a large cabinet filled with memorabilia and went on to tell us the story of Father John’s Medicine. I remember walking out of there thinking that Lowell has something about it which is so authentic and pure, and my interest was piqued.

Since settling here, I’ve lived in many of our neighborhoods. In each one, I’ve learned something else special about our city. Sitting on my porch in the Highlands, I learned you can hear the excitement coming from the Spinners game off in the distance on a warm summer night. I’ve learned that many couples start their lives together under the gazebo in Kittredge Park in Belvidere. I’ve learned the gray bricks that St. Anne’s church is made of, came from the canals dug around it downtown; and the most magical thing I’ve learned is how beautiful our city is while walking.

I’ve listened to many Lowellians tell their unique histories and stories, and I’ve learned that we all share a respect and pride for Lowell. It is our backgrounds, contributions, and experiences that are the threads which connect us and make our great city so amazing.

Lowell has welcomed me, educated me, and offered me many opportunities. Now, I have an opportunity to give something back.

I came as a graduate student to UMass in 2006. The Regional Economic and Social Development program helped me pursue my interests related to economics and labor. I learned a great deal about collaboration and about having a vested interest in the success of your own community. I’m involved with many different groups, including the Lowell Green Restaurants Program, the Public Matters leadership program, and Big Brother Big Sister. I also served on the Cultural Organization of Lowell board for many years, helping promote and foster arts and cultural events.

City Council elections are important. The local level is where we, as residents, can have the most impact on the day-to-day lives of ourselves and our neighbors. Voters determine how our tax dollars get spent; and voters determine what takes priority – roads, safety, education. I look forward to starting a conversation with you and your family, to hear about what is most important in your day-to-day lives. I will hear your voice, I will listen with care, and I will work for you and the issues that are most important to you. We should all be part of the process that builds upon our progress to shape a positive future – Because this is Our Lowell.

If elected, I will work to grow our community wealth, to build upon the great work of those before, to make our city an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. I will draw upon my experience working on economic development issues in Congresswoman Tsongas’ office and supporting small businesses at the Merrimack Valley Small Business Center.

We are still coming out of one of the worst economic downturns we have seen in decades; unemployment will remain an issue as federal and state budget cuts continue to ripple through our local economy. Lowell’s unemployment rate is close to 8% – still higher than the national average. We need sustainable jobs. Lowell will also continue to receive lower state and federal revenues for critical services, many of our local organizations that fill in the gaps for so many families will feel the weight of these cuts too. This will impact families. Families that have already experienced substantial losses; some have lost jobs, some have lost homes, some have drained their savings just to get by.

I personally know how hard it is to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and sometimes making the tough decision between paying the electric bill and buying groceries. I did my fair share of penny pinching and going without for my entire 20’s as I was putting myself through college and working full time.
I know that it will take years for savings accounts to build back up and families to feel stable again. This means that NOW is the time to face the challenges that threaten further damage to our local economy .

Now is an opportunity for new approaches. Now is the time for innovative solutions that will build an even stronger Lowell. We have much work to do.
As a city councilor, I will work for Lowell. I’ll take a respectful and professional approach to strengthen investments in our community, putting families first. While there is talk that the economy is slowly starting to improve, that optimism is returning, and the private sector is starting to add jobs, we have to make critical investments in order to develop the small gains we’ve seen.
I will work collaboratively to

• Invest in public safety
• Strengthen our workforce
• Support our unique local businesses
• Attract new business
• Revitalize local investment
• Encourage prosperity for families

I believe these are priorities so we can grow our community wealth. These are key actions that can lead to increased economic stability that supports and promotes Lowell’s unique human, cultural and historic resources.

But I need your help. You know that I didn’t come here with a huge family, but I’ve made some great friends — all of you gathered tonight. And now I need your help.

Let’s work together to grow our community wealth.

Let’s work together to meet Lowell’s challenges and celebrate our successes.

Please give me your vote in November and please give me some of your time this election season.

Thank you!