Office sought: Harrisonburg City Council
1. Why are you seeking election/re-election; and is successful, what are your three primary goals and how do you propose to address them?
I am seeking re-election because a significant amount of residents, business owners, students, non-profit organizations, and members of the faith based community believe I am a good conduit between them and local government. They believe in my ability to convey their request or needs to city staff and follow through until they come to fruition or are modified according to our city staff’s ability to deliver.
Ihave four primary goals once re-elected; each rooted in the feedback of residents, business owners, students, non-profit organizations, and members of the faith based community.
Goal 1. Partner with our school board and parents to establish a proactive plan that budgets for space and money with contingencies to handle potential overcrowding issues. Public education is a quality investment when planned for intentionally. In the recent past, we have been reactive and operating under a negative mindset that our schools are a financial burden. Overcrowded schools are unsafe and costly. We must end overcrowding at our high school quickly and efficiently.
Goal 2. Partner with local agencies and nonprofit organizations to help our neighbors with less resources. 26% of our neighbors are at the poverty line or below. 39% of our neighbors are asset limited income constrained and employed or A.L.LC.E. It is imperative we press economic development for high paying “blue collar jobs” and “white collar jobs” with training opportunities.
Goal 3. Hire a Sustainability Coordinator. We need a dedicated person to ensure Harrisonburg is working to waste less, has a recycling program, along with energy efficient buildings & vehicles.
Goal 4. Hire a Community Criminal Justice Planner. This person would help our community justice board implement and supervise programs to reduce the jail population. Aggressively work to reduce the poverty to prison pipeline.
2. The health of our area economy is always a concern to REALTORS. What will you to Advocate for economic development and small businesses?
In order to increase economic development we must increase the customer service of community development, establish more loan and grant opportunities, and aggressively seek local and outside investors. We must make it
1 easier to do business in Harrisonburg. Our economic development team must diversify the options in its portfolio to assist entrepreneurs. There are several areas in our city that need more attractive incentives to entice investors. We need to simultaneously revitalize the economy and beautify those areas.
3. Affordable housing is a major concern for many area families. What do you support to help ease the housing crunch for local workforce families, and are there any steps that government can take to alleviate homelessness?
We need to revisit zoning ordinances and supply builders with special use permits to build smaller homes on smaller lots. We need greater density to build more affordable homes. We need greater density to bring down cost and increase profit margins for developers. We need smaller units for young budding families and smaller units for the boomer generation that’s looking to downsize. Ultimately, with higher density single family home projects we can create higher end and beginner entry-point housing to cover both spectrums of the market.
My faith teaches me that the poor will always be among us. I interpret that to mean there will always be those in lack. Whether it’s a lack of food, lack of clothing, lack of shelter, lack of complete mental health, but there will be lack in some fashion. After analyzing the A-L.LC.E. data and due to my personal convictions I am persuaded it is time for our local government to step in and partner in a greater way with United Way and other agencies to lower A.L.LC.E and end homelessness. We can find shelter for those that lack a home if we get creative and work as one.
4. Fair Housing programs are critical to a community because they provide an opportunity to those that face resistance to residency with an opportunity to secure a home. How can we work together to incorporate fair housing programs into the area?
We can work together to incorporate fair housing programs into the area by
intentionally educating realtors, lenders, insurance companies, and potential buyers of the pitfalls that lead to acts of discrimination. Once we can clearly identify the pitfalls we can make a blueprint for success together.
It’s important to bring in agencies that help the protected classes to assist with the education process in the community. If re-elected it’s a goal of mine to create a human rights commission with Sal Romero. HRAR should certainly have a seat at that table. Moreover, these educational opportunities and workshops should always include the city’s economic development team as a sponsor, provider of space, and primary conveyor of the messaging to all parties involved.
5. As an Association representing 400 REALTOR and affiliate members who live and work in the community, what role do you see HRAR playing in housing issue discussions and how can the Association work with you to improve the community?
In my vision of building a better Harrisonburg, HRAR helps lead the way, educating the community on home ownership pros & cons. HRAR members are the best experts to teach entrepreneurs how to properly invest in real estate “flipping” and renting. I would like to partner with HRAR to to create workshops for communities of color, women, seniors, and all of those that have historically been disadvantaged and discriminated against by the real estate business of old.
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