Durant citizens must band together to improve their quality of life. They can no longer look exclusively to the government for solutions to what ails the city.

So says community activist Allyson Fitzgerald, a Durant resident considered to be one of Mayor Jordan Hines prime candidates to replace outgoing Durant Supervisor Lindsey Houston.

(Houston has been nominated to become President’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She is awaiting confirmation by the U.S. Senate.)

Fitzgerald, who lives on Park Street, calls her brand of activism “communityvism,” and she recommends that everyone pitch in to make Durant a better place to live. Residents can have an impact, she says, “just by reporting a crime to the police or picking up a piece of garbage off their street.” In her view, it all adds up in the long run.

Fitzgerald turned to her new self-help philosophy after participating for several years in various First District merchants associations and commissions.

Gradually she came to realize that calling for more and more government handouts was one thing. But a fundamental question always remained: who is going to pay for new services? How are we going to raise revenues?

The answer is not to increase taxes, she believes, but to attract new business — particularly small and medium-sized ventures — to Durant.

To accomplish this, Fitzgerald says, Durant citizens must offer tax breaks and other financial concessions to businesses willing to locate here. We must also “showcase” the city, by making it an attractive, clean, and secure place in which to live and work.

In recent years, rising crime and the neglect of public amenities have not only discouraged new enterprise but led to a decline in the number of visitors, she maintains. Since tourism is a leading source of revenue for Durant, that drop has helped shrink the city’s coffers.

Fitzgerald, 35, has lived in Durant for 10 years and is a small business owner herself. “Business has always been in my blood,” she says. She worked as a bookkeeper and accountant for the first 15 years of her business career.