The year 2020 was a hard year, probably the toughest year for Americans since the Great Depression. However, during this time America began to speak to the inequalities that still exist in our communities, from economic to social to racial. Excelsior Thrive added a new task force during 2020 to address these uncomfortable issues — Ethics and Inclusion. The task force is made up of residents that represent our diversity. Only until we are all included will we thrive as a community. We must discover to what extent people are thriving, struggling or suffering in Excelsior Springs so that we can identify where and how to best take action to improve well-being for all.

As a leader, it is my responsibility to challenge myself to practice "How it Works", providing honesty, openness and willingness to listen and serve all -- equally.

The City of Excelsior Springs participates in the Communities for All Ages program and I will continue to support changes in housing, transportation and care giving opportunities to provide quality of life for our senior residents. We should be designing a community that people can enjoy throughout their entire life.

While African American and Asian residents only make up about 5% of the Excelsior Springs population, the emotional outcry of Black Lives Matter in response to the murder of George Floyd was also recognized here at home. Peaceful rallies were held to bring awareness about racial injustice and the importance of respecting everyone equally. The City Council, for the first time, recognized “Juneteenth” by Proclamation, celebrating the ending of slavery in the United States.

In 2017, the City received a grant of $10,000 to hold a Project Homeless Connect one day event, bringing agencies across Clay and Ray counties to provide services to the homeless. The event, held in October, was designed to give services to homeless individuals and families and those at risk of homelessness the tools they need to remove the barriers to finding housing. Caring individuals and organizations came together, again, to provide a Day of Hope in 2018 and two Day of Hope events in 2019. Plans for Day of Hope in 2020 were interrupted because of COVID-19, however, individuals have continued to do outreach through the Good Samaritan Center. If funding can be found to renovate an area of the Good Samaritan Center for a shower room and add laundry facilities, the Center is in the position to act as a Homeless Drop-in Shelter, which I support for our community.

2020 also showed us that Excelsior Springs is not immune to the political divide in our nation. I have a long-time friend and neighbor who made the statement that they do not feel safe in their neighborhood. Another neighbor is flying their American flag upside down. As a councilwoman, it disturbs me to think that our residents don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods; that they feel they live in a nation under duress.

When I was a young wife and mother in Excelsior Springs, I was graced with good role models in the community. I loved Ruth King and Betty Thompson equally. Ruth King was a strong democrat, her husband having been a state representative. Betty Thompson served for many years as Excelsior Springs Republican Chairwoman. Our differences were small in comparison to the areas where we could unite to make Excelsior Springs a better place to live — voting to support city initiatives, advocating for our hospital, growing our school district, passing the 1/2-cent sales tax for capital improvements.