One thing that I have learned in elected office is that every issue comes across your desk, whether you want to deal with it or not. Those issues warrant a response, regardless of my priorities, and it's why I feel it's important to share my thoughts on some of them in our community. This is not an exhaustive list and I expect to share more as the campaign gears up and I always welcome your questions, feedback, and suggestions. Feel free to share with me using the contact page or visiting with me at a constituent coffee hour listed on the home page.
While my top priorities have revolved around fixing the roads, spurring economic development, and creating a better connected government, I will always work to earnestly offer solutions on anything council considers.
Improving Roads, Bridges & Sidewalks
Fixing our roads continues to be at the top of my priority list for city council. We have made strides over the last four years in repairing the worst streets in the city, implementing an annual engineering assessment and grading of each street, and bringing systems on line to better manage assets & data. What's more, we implemented a citywide road study to firmly get a handle on specific road conditions, costs, and forecasts. The goal - to ensure money is being spent where it is needed most and to better plan intervention to extend road life. In short, we are positioned to make repair decisions more thoughtfully than at any other time. But more importantly, the pieces are in place to create a long term plan to deal with our roads.
In the coming weeks, I will be presenting a road bond proposal before council. If successful, voters will be asked to approve on the November ballot. The objective of the proposal will be to create dedicated revenue, which cannot be diverted, for road repair and construction. The revenue would be significant enough to reach out across the city and deal with our crumbling roads. In addition, the proposal takes in lessons from the past to help us maximize the impact. I will share more details here in the near future.
Spurring Economic Development
Encouraging development and the growth of business is good for our city & taxpayers alike. It's why I believe the city should always take a competitive approach to economic development and be focused on changing the climate here in New Baltimore. It has been a priority for me on council and will remain so for the next four years.
As a member of council, I served on the subcommittee assigned to negotiate the sale and development of the Washington and Front corner downtown. I spearheaded the effort to maintain dialogue with the chosen developer and worked with other members to craft an agreement to bring to the table. That agreement is anticipated to come before council in the coming weeks. If approved, planned construction will occur over the next couple years to create new taxable value downtown with an anchor development to house residents, shops, and a restaurant.
In addition to that work, I have advocated for changes in city ordinance, policies & practices to pursue Redevelopment Ready Certification through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Certification means the City has modernized its policies surrounding building & development and brought standards in line with commonly accepted practice statewide. In making these changes, we are changing the culture and removing antiquated barriers that cost us time, money, and opportunity, in addition to making things much less confusing!
Finally, I serve as liaison to Local Development Finance Authority. The taxing entity is designed to make investments in the designated area, our industrial park. While there I have advocated for the release of development dollars to be used in expanding buildable footprint of the industrial park, seeking to create more opportunity for development and investment in our community.
A Better Connected Government
You deserve a representative that is accessible and listens to you, even if you don't always agree. As a member of council, I have always made myself available to residents and sought to have an open line of communication. Whether that is hosting coffee hours for constituents, maintaining a presence online on Facebook and through my website, or freely giving time to hear you out, it's part of who I am and who I intend to be. But that's just part of what the city needs. It is apparent to most that the city could benefit from enhanced communication and it's what I intend to keep pushing for. I'll keep working to introduce improvements to our web presence, greater use of social media, and the creation of a city mobile app to serve as a one stop shop for city business and as a means of mass communication.
Keeping Our Community Safe
New Baltimore consistently ranks as one of the safest communities in our state. Our police enjoy the support and trust of our community because they've earned it. I'll continue to support their community oriented approach and look to supply them with the equipment and training they need to do their jobs. When it comes to fire, we know that greater support is needed. From aging equipment to staffing challenges, council support for our fire department is needed more than ever to maintain the current level of service. It is why I will be voting for funding for additional staff and look to support any plans that enhance the medical services they provide and our community needs.
(More to come!)