For the first time in a long time, an Oberlin College student is running for a seat on the Oberlin City Council. College senior Sarah Kotok has "a deep interest in what goes on in the community" and therefore would like a chance to "help to create a sustainable Oberlin."
Kotok said that she was inspired to run for Council in order to promote the idea of sustainability.
"Sustainable development is making decisions with the long-term consequences or benefits of Oberlin in mind," she said. Sustainable development does not only deal with the natural environment, she added. Instead, it has to do with economic and social design: a thriving economy that keeps money local and encourages jobs, good housing and people who are educated.
Kotok hopes to "preserve the rural and small town quality of Oberlin"; "increase the economic viability of the downtown business district"; "nurture open and green spaces for recreation and habitat protection"; "diversify city government with a liaison between community, college and city"; and "build a safe, healthy, thriving legacy for our future generations."
After having been involved in the community as a member of the resource recovery committee, for example, and by holding a part-time job while attending the College, she feels that she would add a unique perspective to Council.
Kotok would like to "see Oberlin review its long-term policy and come up with a policy that specifies the guidelines for what kind of development" is to come in the future, to provide a "clear statement" as opposed to allowing the decision to be made by various individuals.
Following graduation, Kotok plans to stay in Oberlin, which would allow her to complete the two year term.
She said that college students serving on local city councils is not unusual in the rest of the country and state, and that Oberlin should follow suit with this sort of representation.
Kotok is part of a group that hopes to encourage sustainability; one of the group's main goals is to raise awareness and to attain sustainable development through campaigning and positions on Council.
Friends have played a large part in encouraging her to run for the position. However, after she had committed to running, she had some concerns about the time commitment and whether she would be most effective on Council or by working in other areas of the community. She determined that she would be able accomplish both.
Making sustainability an important issue in the campaign has already achieved one of the group's goals, Kotok said.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 7, October 31, 1997
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