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A Nov. 16 article in USA Today, that listed the 15 worst cities for black Americans included Racine. Landing at no. 3 on the list, just behind the metro Milwaukee area and Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa, metropolitan area, the list was created by examining a set of eight data points.
Racine Mayor Cory Mason was not too thrilled to find the city on the list. Again. Racine made an appearance on the same list a year ago, just a few days after he was sworn into office. Mason sat down with Racine County Eye to discuss some of the implications of the article, and more importantly, how the City of Racine will address the issues pointed out in the article.
What else has the USA Today article brought to the discussion?
Cory Mason: Racism has long-lasting consequences. The other thing I would say about what this article tells you is there is no one silver bullet that is going to reduce these inequities. Even if Community Development Block Grant funding doubled, these inequities would not go away in a year. We’d make some real progress, especially in the area of housing and housing security, but it wouldn’t evaporate.
RCE: How big of a challenge is the transportation issue and getting people to the jobs?
CM: It’s an issue, there is no doubt about it. It’s a blind spot we have in our body politic that has made moving forward on a number of topics very difficult. As more jobs emerge closer to the interstate, most of the workforce remains in the City.
Employers understand the necessity (of expanding public transportation) more and more, so that is very positive. We just signed an agreement with Mount Pleasant for a shared regional transit approach around the expansion of our two communities, so I am optimistic.
RCE: Why is there resistance?
CM: There is a real pushback among some policymakers about funding transit. The other thing I am optimistic about is maybe there are new models that would create less resistance politically. What we need is a 21st-century transit system, not a 20th-century transit system. Maybe it is not driven entirely by buses. Are there other approaches to transit that would be less objectionable and would achieve the goals of getting employers the workforce they need? Not everyone has access to their own vehicle.