At Independence, Inc. we work very hard to increase the all types of community participation and civic engagement by people with disabilities. In order to do that, we have reached out to each of the candidates for Mayor and City Council in Minot and asked them a very simple question.
Our next response is from Steve Podrygula. According to his KMOT election bio
, Dr. Stephan Podrygula has served on the Minot City Council on three separate occasions. He brings a unique perspective to council discussion as a clinical psychiatrist. Podrygula has stressed flood protection, fiscal responsibility, and government transparency in his time in public service.
1) If you are elected, how will you work to make Minot a more accessible community for people with all types disabilities?
As a clinical and health/rehabilitation psychologist, I've spent 40 years working with people, with all types of disabilities, achieve more fulfilling and productive lives. Accessibility is second nature to me.
Accessibility isn't just curb cuts, lifts and ramps on buses, and "handicapped" parking spaces. Fundamentally, it's an attitude and a commitment that we should actively work to make our community welcoming to everyone.
We’ve started by making government itself more accessible and transparent. In the past several months, we've built a ramp onto the dais in the city Council chambers, set up a lectern so people with mobility impairments can more easily speak, and broadcast our proceedings (so people at home can watch and listen to what goes on). When we set up our automated waste collection program, we made sure to offer "valet service" to individuals who are unable to take their trash containers to the curb. On several occasions, I've gone out with Meals on Wheels volunteers to deliver food, and have seen, first-hand, the important role they play in keeping elderly persons in their homes and supporting them with independent living.
But we can still do better. For example – on our job opportunities website page, and in our hiring practices – instead of simply saying the city "does not discriminate", we should be saying that the city "actively seeks a diverse workforce", and do more in the way of outreach to try to attract people from different backgrounds and with different characteristics. As a major employer in the community, we need to be a model of accessibility and involvement. When we review review building permit and business development program applications, we should always be thinking about how we make structures and activities welcoming, not just accessible (e.g., in planning our new downtown gathering space). We need to partner with other parts of government (e.g., the schools, parks system, Job Services, etc.) to be sure that every citizen has the opportunities they deserve.