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Can my citizens who are making minimum wage afford to get to work?— Mayor Rhine L. McLin
When people ask Mayor McLin about her unique eyeglasses – one frame is ovular, the other rectangular – she always offers the same quip. The glasses are like Dayton: the city is well rounded and gives you a square deal.
Unfortunately, Dayton does not seem to have been getting much of a square deal in recent months. In 2007, the city had the 15th-highest foreclosure rate in the country, with 2.07% of households entering some stage of foreclosure that year. CQ Press’s annual ranking of the country’s most dangerous cities – which the American Society of Criminology called “an irresponsible misuse” of crime data – placed Dayton at 19th most dangerous. And Dayton’s unemployment rate currently stands at 6.7%, an increase of 1.2% from last year and 1.2% higher than the national unemployment rate in June.
In her interview with MayorTV, Mayor McLin enumerated the problems attendant to foreclosures: abandoned properties that can attract crime, renters who are displaced when their landlords are foreclosed upon, increases in housing violations for homeowners who can afford their mortgage payments but not upkeep on their homes, and even pets left behind when their owners abandon their properties.
The Mayor is somewhat mystified at the problem:
"Who would have thought the American dream of a home would devalue?"
Continuing to address pocketbook issues, Mayor McLin tied the lack of transportation alternatives in Dayton to the faltering economy:
"So what’s my other means of transportation when we’re talking about gasoline that’s four and going to probably go as high as five or six dollars before it even levels…[C]an my citizens who are making minimum wage afford to get to work?"
For Mayor McLin, the problems associated with urban areas in the United States are not unique to cities. She identifies a broader trend of aging infrastructure, unemployment, and homelessness that is simply magnified in cities:
"The truth of the matter is that cities are just symptomatic of what’s going on all around them."
Please find interviews with mayors from Richmond, Nashville, Albuquerque, Honolulu, and many other U.S. cities at MayorTV as we continue our summer series highlighting the need for a conversation about cities in Election ’08.