A year later - our response: why I'm running for State Senate
It's been a year since we tried to deliver the petition to stop the City of Muncie from subsidizing Fresh Thyme (owned by Meijer) to the Muncie City Council, the Mayor, and the Muncie Redevelopment Commission. We at The Downtown Farm Stand were local, long time employers and a tax paying business that operated here for many years when there was no natural food store in Muncie. The Council President and the Council Lawyer attempted to humiliate us in our efforts by saying it was not an official petition, and they cut our speaking time short. We had called ahead to let the Council know that we were coming to the meeting with a petition, and that same day we were served with a surprise visit from the Fire Marshall and the building inspector, the first time since our opening inspection 10 years prior.
The will and the constitutional rights of over 1000 citizens were ignored that night, voters were alienated, and the public was not heard. Sara and I were there with supporters and our teenage children, to do our civic duty. Maybe we wouldn't win, but we would be heard as part of the process. I believe in the process, I enjoy the process, and I wanted my children to see how it worked and to have an interest in it too. The public was not heard, and parts of local government are clearly broken.
Now the Fresh Thyme is being built and is due to open mid-April. The stop light is being added at taxpayer expense to the already congested McGalliard Road. The costs have gone up on the project as reported in a Star Press article last week, like we knew they would. We may never know how much this project will really the cost taxpayers. We’ll probably never know if things got cleaned up properly in the old salvage yard, and we won’t know why exactly they decided to locate where they did in the middle of a neighborhood, except that party insiders sold their land for the deal. We can do much better, and we must do better for the future generations.
What type of leadership do we need? We started our small business, The Downtown Farm Stand in 2007 with only a $10,000 loan and we have created multiple long term jobs, provided a steady income to many local farms, and we have encouraged other organic farms to expand in the rural landscape. We’ve provided healthy food access to those in the inner city, and regardless of income levels, many folks have found that our food is affordable and a great value for the high quality products.
We’ve served as a destination restaurant and grocery store, and we’re a place that recruiters from Ball State, the Hospital, and other large institutions bring people from out of town to show them that Muncie has the type of small businesses and amenities that people want and expect from a larger city . We’ve played the role of that affordable foodie restaurant for those that want to impress their out of town friends with a truly unique and delicious product that they can not get anywhere else.
We serve as the only grocery store in the downtown, in an era when apartment dwellers find it a necessity to be able to walk to their pertinent services, and we’ve contributed to the full occupancy rates in the apartments downtown. We’ve created community as a small business in an era of big box stores, strip malls, online shopping, and political divides, and we’ve been a safe space for many in the neighborhood to seek refuge. People meet each other here for the first time, and they have conversations and make connections. In a world where online interactions have become so negative, it’s become very important for people to have a dialogue face to face, and to have spaces where they can do that.
Personally, I have served on multiple non-profit boards, the Cannon Commons Park design committee in Muncie, Farmished, Muncie Downtown Development, and Slow Food ECI. We were organic farmers full time for seven years after buying our farm in 1999. We moved back home from California after an internship on an organic farm there to start Ring Family Farm. We started the Natural Heritage Farmers Market at the corner of Walnut and Charles St in Muncie, a grass roots Farmers Market with no fees, and ran it rain or shine for three years. That Farmer’s Market led to the opening of The Downtown Farm Stand in 2007 which has now been open for 11 years.
At the Farm Stand we started two other spin off businesses from the grocery store, The Farm Stand Deli and Farm Stand Delivery, both very successful. Now we are happy to report that we have bought our building as part of a new business, Farm Stand Properties, and we will have more space to expand into and to rent, and we have saved a historic downtown building that will be restored.
I know how to get things done the right way, and I know how to do a lot with a little. That's why I've decided to run for State Senate in District 26. I believe that I can make a real difference for the low income families and the shrinking middle class in Indiana. Those same skills and values that led me to be able to start a small farm and several small businesses will be an asset to the people of District 26. I grew up very low income in Delaware County, so I know what the economic struggle is like, and I grew up early,working jobs and doing whatever it took to put myself through school. I also know how to stretch a dollar, and I know how to make good decisions when people's futures hang in the balance. Many of my long time customers and colleagues have called me incorruptible, and I would have to agree. I cannot stand for corruption of any kind and I will be your government watchdog. I believe that if we really put our tax dollars to work for us, we will be amazed at what we can do with them and the difference it will make in our everyday lives. If you live in Albany, Eaton, Yorktown, Gaston, Frankton, Anderson, Alexandria, Elwood, Middletown, North Muncie, or West Muncie, or any of the other areas of District 26, I would appreciate your vote on May 8th on a Democrat ballot. If you know anyone in those areas, please tell them about my candidacy and you can get involved at votedavering.com and on our facebook page @votedavering. We will be knocking on doors all over District 26, talking to voters, going to town hall meetings, and bringing people together with a unity message. I want to hear from you no matter what your party affiliation about what concerns you have, and together we can work to make things better. We know that we can't just win an election, we have to heal a divide. Get involved and let's be part of the the progressive wave of change taking over the State Legislature and the U.S. Congress in 2018 and 2020! Ring! It’s time for a wakeup call!