On April 4 Rose Richard is one month away from graduation . . . and one day away from finding out whether she has been elected to Beloit’s City Council! A couple weeks ago LAPC had the opportunity to ask her about how her liberal arts in practice experiences, both in and outside the classroom, have prepared her for life as a public servant in Beloit.
Thanks for coming in Rose! Let’s start with the most important question: if you’re elected, what are your priorities?
Thanks for inviting me! If elected, I want to raise awareness of the services that are offered through non-profits and human services in the area — organizations such as Community Action of Rock and Walworth Counties. I would also like the people who need it the most to know about their services. I would like to see better transportation pathways set up for these organizations as well. Access to reliable transportation is a significant issue for many people in the community.
I would also like to see people taking advantage of the new opportunities to get job training at Hendricks CareerTek — it is a great resource for job preparedness. I want to see more people use what the city has . . . that’s my goal. I want people to start using what we have, so that unemployment goes down.
I also want the campus to be a lot more connected to the city. I’d like to see organizations in the city to have a presence on campus. I want the NAACP to feel welcome and connected with students, rather than just one person in the administration, and to there be outside groups, like Youth2Youth for Change, which prevents drug abuse in youth and young adults, connected to our students.
I would also like people within the city to know that the Beloit campus is a resource for them to tap into – if they need people for internships, or volunteer work, or if they have a program that they want input on. There’s a lot of diversity on campus in terms of international student presence, and also people of color, and I want to make sure that the city is tapping into that.
Also, the people that are retired who’ve had connections to the campus . . . I want them to be coming to all of these events we have. I talked to someone who is active in SLU–The Society for Learning Unlimited, and he said “I don’t see Beloit [College] advertised everywhere in the city . . . we need more magazines in the dentist’s office, and we need more people understanding how important Beloit College is for the city, and that connection can be repaired.”
I decided to run after being encouraged by a mentor; I felt this was something I would be able to do. As a student, I think I have a unique position, because I have a lot of professors, I know a lot of people in the administration, and I am connected with a lot of Beloit College community members. I want to use those connections to further the goals of the city.
How has your education at Beloit College prepared you for serving on Beloit’s City Council?
After I decided to run, I took two classes to feel out what it would be like. I took Public Leadership, where we had an internship component in the class. I chose to create my own project for the internship component, in order to focus on studying Beloit local politics. I wanted to get a feel for what goes on in Beloit, and to begin connecting with people in the public and service sectors. As part of the project I went to City Council meetings and I watched some of them on line. I did a lot of research on other counselors in order to make counselor profiles, and then had meetings with some people in Beloit who have run for public office, including [Representative] Mark Spreitzer. I also joined the Beloit Evening Lions Club!
I also took an Industrial History of Beloit class. From that, I learned a lot about Beloit’s history as a town. Taking that class, I learned a lot about Beloit. I did a research project on the Riverfront restoration project, which was organized by Beloit 2000, now Beloit 2020. All these business leaders and non-profits came together and decided to renovate the riverside area, and to fix some of the dilapidated buildings. I was really inspired that all these people living here, who had businesses, they cared more about the town than by the profit they could have made by moving out.
Do you consider the City of Beloit home now? What makes you most excited about staying?
Where I come from, in Homewood IL, there are a lot of blighted neighborhoods around us . . . we’re like a little island. And rather than stay, a lot of businesses have moved out . . . they’ve just left the area completely. But the people in Beloit, when faced with a huge depression in the community, they decided to stay. I was inspired by that. That gave me a clue about what kind of people live here. Beloit is a really good place to invest in.
Tell us about the skills that you have which will help you succeed as a public servant.
I want to be that person who makes sure that community members are getting the information they need from the city. For that reason, I am a listener. I’m able to listen when people talk and give presentations . . . and not come into every meeting with an agenda. Hearing people share their positions and concerns, ideas and solutions is the sole reason I’m there. I don’t go into meetings with a plan to advertise myself.
I also have tenacity. I want to go find out the answers, and do anything I can to find them. A couple of nights ago I held a forum for the Beloit Property Managers Association. I’d done a lot of research beforehand, including talking to people in business, and to people who understand what employers in the area are looking for.
Regardless if I win, regardless of the outcome of the election, I am in a place where I am being given information I can use and share, and I am thankful for the opportunity.