By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK — Patricia Diaz Krause will be sworn in tomorrow night as Lincoln Park mayor — the first woman to hold the office — and she brings to the position few promises other than to bring enthusiasm and hard work to the position.
“I never promised anything,” Krause said of her campaign. No pledges to never raise taxes, no guarantees for fixing the city’s many problems. Instead, she plans to bring her experience in the private sector (40 years at Ford Motor Co.) and 30 years of volunteer service to work for her lifelong city of residence.
“The people of Lincoln Park feel a sense of hope, and pinned a lot of expectations on me,” Krause said. “And I’ve pinned a lot of expectations on myself.”
While steeped in volunteer work for the city, Krause’s mayoral campaign was her debut in the world of political elections, and after a strong showing in the August primary she unseated Incumbent Frank Vaslo with 2,083 votes against Vaslo’s 1,713. As with many Downriver communities, “change” seemed the order of the day, which Krause said was largely responsible for her victory. During her door-to-door campaign she heard voters say that they felt too far removed from the city administration, and that their beloved city was a far cry from its golden years.
“So many of them were just so apathetic,” Krause said. “They were not being heard, their complaints were ignored, their ideas rejected.”
Rather than make false promises, Krause said that she wants to be honest with residents about the city’s future.
“It’s not going to be like it was in the ‘50s,” Krause said. “But right now, when you say ‘Lincoln Park,’ people say it’s a slum or a crappy city. We are responsible for that.”
As with any housecleaning project, Krause wants to start with a basic overhaul. The city, businesses and residents need to take responsibility for blighted properties, she said.
“We need to look cleaner and neater and attractive,” Krause said. “That will encourage families to settle here. If we continue the slide downward, the people who live here will leave. We’ve lost hundreds of them over the past few years; most of my friends and neighbors have bailed.”
Effort alone won’t rectify the city’s problems, and Krause said that revenue-generating options need to be explored to the fullest. She would like to explore having a grant writer work for the city — on a commission basis — to bring money for new projects.
To achieve those goals, she has scheduled what promises to be the first of many Town Hall meetings for Jan. 30 to invite resident input.
“I want to hear what the people want, what they’re happy about, she said. “There are a lot of residents ready to step up to the plate and work on community projects. We need to focus on volunteerism as one aspect.”
On the eve of taking the oath of office, Krause remains committed to her goals, confident in the decision to enter the political arena.
“I deliberated internally on this for quite a long time,” she said. “I determined that I’ll give it a shot. Lincoln Park needs somebody that’s highly motivated and inspiring. I’m just so excited about moving forward with this.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])