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Re-shaping Carrollton tonight

It is not a run of the mill candidate forum and it is not about the typical budget issue. It is about building a cohesive Carrollton where no resident has to live in apprehension of the other and more importantly, they need to feel welcome.

Program: Candidate’s forum

Date: 6: 30 PM, Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Place: Barbeque Tonite Restaurant,
Address: 2540 Old Denton Road, Suite 173, Carrollton, TX 75006
Intersection: S.E Corner of Old Denton and 190/Trinity.
We thank Salim Odhwani, owner of Barbeque Tonite for facilitating the event.
The Candidates will be asked how they would handle issue regarding Civil Unions, Racial profiling, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and immigration reforms. What plans do they have to keep the social cohesion in Carrollton?
The Candidates:
Place 2: Bonnie Kaplan and Anthony Wilder
Approximately, they received 37% and 32% respectively.
Place 4:  Bob Garza and Cathy Henesey
approximately, they received 37% and 30% respectively.
Carrollton is enriched with every race, religion and ethnicity.  The program will be taped and sent as a model event in series of events to take place throughout the United States of America to build cohesive societies.
It’s my dream to make our city an exemplary city in social cohesion, where we learn to respect and appreciate the uniqueness of each one of us.  Peace is a product of opening our hearts and minds and learning about each other instead of believing in dished out versions of the other. If I need to feel safe, secure and peaceful, I need to work to make sure everyone around me is safe.  If I live in fears, it is likely the others do the same.
Text Messages & Phone: (214) 325-1916
America Together Foundation
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206, Dallas, TX 75234
The candidate declined.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Bonnie Kaplan and I am running for Carrollton City Council, Place 2. Thank you for coming here this evening.
I know about budgets and economic development from having served before on the Carrollton City Council. This time, if I am fortunate enough to be elected, my emphasis will be on community.
Let me tell you two stories to illustrate. Back in the year 2000, I was serving on city council and was running for mayor. In the middle of the campaign, on Easter Sunday which was also Passover, my very large double white front doors were spray painted with a huge black swastika. My husband is a Jew, and in a Jewish household there is not a symbol that is more disgusting. We were shocked and horrified, as were many in our community. This cruel event hurt us for a very long time, for it caused us to wonder who would do something so terrible to us. Through this event, I learned what it felt like to be an outsider, ostrasized for no reason except religion and heritage.
I always had a heart and a soul for community and diversity. This event only strengthened it.
In 2009, the A.W. Perry Museum Society decided to make a quilt to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the rebuilt A.W. Perry home. I was named project leader for a fundraising event. We decided to sell squares and strips that people would purchase and sign. The signed squares and strips would be incorporated into the design of the quilt. I realized that Carrollton today looked very different than the Carrollton of 1909. One of the most obvious differences was in the demographics. Today Carrollton is a very diverse city, ethnically, religiously and socially.
I decided to seek out those who would represent the many kinds of diversity. Therefore, we reached out to everyone. No one was excluded. People who participated in the project ranged from in ages from eight to ninety-one. Many different races were included in the quilt. Some people signed because of their occupations, such as firefighters and boy scouts, others signed because of their countries of origin, such as Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Mexico, China, Vietnam and Egypt. There were patches for various churches, including Christians, Baptists, Hindu, Orthodox Armenians, Jewish and Muslims. Descendants of the original settlers of Carrollton also signed the quilt.
The signed squares and strips were sent to a quilter with no instructions on how to place them. She did not know the participants and so randomly placed the patches throughout the design. The finished quilt became of tapestry of Carrollton’s diversity and community. It represents an ideal to which we can all aspire, with all the differences stitched into one beautiful whole!

The four issues identified in your request are a variety of diverse topics that have been argued at the national level for many years and all still remain virtually unresolved in the minds of most Americans. 
In my campaign literature and in several public forums, I have documented one of my 5 top goals as “fair and equitable representation for all Carrollton residents”.  Race, color, religion, sexual orientation or financial status will not be criteria used by me to determine how I will treat my constituents.
If elected, my plan is to partner with council members and together explore establishing the Diversity Round Table that existed a few years ago.  The objective would be to seek individuals that represent the vast diverse population that resides in our great city.
In my many years of life experience and all that has been brought in my  direction I have learned that fear of the unknown is perhaps what keeps us from truly understanding  our differences. We need to pursue that unknown to know who we are.
With that in mind I would recommend a three step approach.
Step 1 Education: Once the Round Table group is established an education phase would begin.  The objective is to get to know all cultures represented on an overview perhaps high level basis.
Step 2 Explore: The next phase is to explore the commonalities and perhaps the differences between each culture and analyze what and why those differences exist. 
Step 3 Celebrate: Once better prepared and educated on our commonalities and our differences we should then formulate a plan to share, display and celebrate our cultures.
These are three simple steps that should be used to build on.  We should explore what other municipalities have in place and learn from their successes.
Carrollton is a great place to work, live and raise a family that is fast growing in minority representation.  That should not be looked at as a negative but should be celebrated.

Social Cohesion by Cathy Henesey
Word Count: 249, as requested
Wikipedia defines social cohesion as a term that   “describe the bonds or ‘glue’ that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity.”
 I believe that Carrollton exudes social equality as seen by all representations of individuals that live in our neighborhoods and our culturally diverse business owners. 
I think our legal citizens enjoy fair and equal conditions when it comes to housing, jobs, education, and overall social conditions. Our opportunities as a leader are to encourage our community to participate in our community beyond their comfort zone. Our city’s boards/commissions lack participants to fill seats, our HOAs are lacking citizens who want to step up as leaders and our civil and charity organizations lack board members to sustain their organizations. The opportunity is there for all citizens to make a difference.
As an elected official, it would be my responsibility to reach out to all residents of Carrollton and make them aware of the vast opportunities to get involved and how vitally important it is to keep our city thriving.
Volunteering plays a key role in economic regeneration and we need our community to stay active; it is empathy that can lead to segregation and separation. I find great inspiration from Seth Godin’s book, The Tribe, who speaks differently about getting people involved and feeling a part of something bigger. 
I live this methodology and I have an innate ability to lead and get others involved in a bigger vision than they can think individually.

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