My Approach and Priorities
The approach I am taking with this campaign and, if I am able to serve as your next Council member, is to first, and always, LISTEN. Listen to a diversity of voices, to continue to build a comprehensive view of the City, to understand where we are united, where we are divided, and to be inspired by ideas throughout the community to solve our greatest problems. Next it is to ENGAGE. Engage the talented resources and key stakeholders within our community who have the experience to tackle those issues we are united on and can commit to breaking down the barriers that divide us. We can then collectively make the best decisions based on what we value as a community. And last but not least is to ACT. Provide leadership such that we can act on decisions, moving our City forward for all who call it home.
On Council, I will be the voice for our neighborhoods, working to engage and empower a diverse group of committed neighborhood stakeholders in the decision making, especially as we strive to grow our city mindfully and with a common vision.
On Council, I will harness my process skills view to tackle the complex issues facing our community. I will not hesitate to reach out to the experts within our borders whose professional experiences challenge our municipality to confront these issues in an innovative, entrepreneurial way. And I will be the first to reach out to other municipalities who have found success in areas we continue to struggle.
My experience and engagement with our community have guided my priorities which, like any, cannot be viewed independently, but as part of the system that is Charlottesville.
I do believe to achieve the level of progress I envision starts with transparency and accountability.
We do not have reliable and consistent conduits for community stakeholder input. With staff often being pulled in multiple directions, priorities are unclear and, in turn, there is little accountability for getting things done. We need to invest in the appropriate systems and establish efficient processes that will allow staff to field a broad range of issues without administrative burdens.
I have career experience in leading the development of new systems and processes to solve complex problems like this. I believe with the right approach and leadership we can get beyond the perception, and often reality, that everything is going into a black box. This transparency will drive accountability and will lead to the ACTION our community is hungry for on the things we value most.
And when I talk to people, what so many value most is not even complex - safety and infrastructure. My daughter cannot walk to school along streets with continuous sidewalks or without crossing a corridor where cars speed excessively. As we have seen firsthand, if we neglect a bridge today, it becomes a safety concern and a major capital investment tomorrow. When Neighborhood led efforts to achieve traffic calming go unaddressed, incidents happen. And without a systems view of the City in the face of multiple new developments being pursued in parallel, designs and resources are wasted.
This is simply not acceptable.
Shouldn’t we prioritize these fundamental needs over redundant studies? We can have a city where our transportation systems enable safe and accessible multi-modal travel for our workforce, while not burdening the secondary streets of our residential neighborhoods. We can have a city where all of our children walk to their bus stops or schools on continuous sidewalks. And those same schools can have the capacity to meet the community’s demands for early childhood and grade level programming. That is the City I seek and am committed to achieving.
But the benefits of these improvements cannot be enjoyed by everyone in our city without a complete commitment to economic progress and community equity.
There are families struggling throughout our City to cover the most basic costs of living. Luckily, new and growing businesses as well as local development initiatives need a skilled workforce in our urban center. Strengthening and expanding the bridge that connects these needs is important for both residents and businesses to survive and thrive.
For struggling families, increased funding for training programs, greater accessibility to transportation and affordable housing, and Pre-K expansions which give children the best possible start while removing the burden of costly childcare for their families are essential to the future of more than one generation.
For those evaluating starting or growing a business, office space that is affordable but also allows for successful employee recruitment and retention is a significant challenge. We need to continue to support these businesses by providing a clear understanding of the incentives and resources available to them while minimizing their tax burdens.
Again, some of these are not simple issues. But as I look around I believe many of the solutions could very well reside right now, in this room. We need to tap the vast experience and intellect within our community to collaborate with the City in solving its toughest issues.
My own experiences and engagement with various stakeholders have guided what I consider to be priorities for this campaign and my service to our community, however this phase is only the start of the dialog. I will continue to LISTEN, to educate myself on the many issues we face together and divided. I am committed to doing the work required to understand the most pressing issues and ENGAGE with you. Let us, together, get out of the repeat cycle and ACT.