Issues - Old

Affordability in Ann Arbor

Over the last ten years, I have witnessed our working-class residents steadily priced out of Ann Arbor, and now I see our fixed income and upper-middle class residents struggling to afford to live here. Many of our teachers, nurses, skilled workers, artists, and their families cannot afford to live in the community to which they contribute to. City Council has done much to address the needs of those in our community on the lower end of the income scale, but we have not focused enough on the affordability pressures on our working and creative classes.

As a community, we have relied on additional tax millages to fund our transportation and climate action goals, among others. For a growing number of our residents, these property tax increases are the difference between staying or moving out of Ann Arbor. Modest increases do add up and Council has a responsibility to view these millages through an affordability lens. We need to look for creative ways to fund our city’s social, environmental, and affordability goals without compounding the problem and making our city less affordable.

Climate Action and A2Zero

In 2020 and with unanimous support, City Council passed the A2Zero carbon neutrality plan. This is intended to be a “living document” and to be adaptive to the shifting landscape that we govern in.

I believe we all have a responsibility in addressing climate change and in determining how we move forward to achieve our goals. Ann Arbor cannot do this alone and we need to form collaborative policies with Federal, State, and County governments as well as locally with The University of Michigan and Ann Arbor Public Schools.

It is important that our Comprehensive Land Use Plan embed our subordinate policies likes A2Zero for us to achieve our goal of carbon neutrality in 8 years. I am committed to our 2030 goal and during the revision of the Land Use Plan, I will work to make sure that it delivers on our promises to future generations.

Dioxane Plume Cleanup

Since 1987, our area communities have watched with great concern as the 1,4 dioxane plume has spread underneath our homes and now into our watershed and possibly into our basements.

After decades of inadequate cleanup and failed obligations, in 2020 City Council formally asked Governor Whitmore to petition the EPA for intervention and to have the plume designated as a “Superfund” site. The EPA has greater enforcement powers to compel the polluter to pay for the cleanup.

Our community owes a huge debt of gratitude to the members of the Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane (CARD), whose tireless efforts have been instrumental and invaluable in collecting data and moving us closer to EPA intervention.

Safe drinking water is a human right, and I will continue to defend the progress we have made to ensure that we have safe drinking water for Ann Arbor’s future generations.

Responsive Constituent Services

Constituent services is the direct connection between residents and their local representative government, whether for traffic calming issues, or for more complex matters like storm water management and the Gelman plume.

As public servants, Council members should be accessible to their constituents, whether through emails, texts, or telephone calls, or through casual exchanges in everyday life. Social media and newsletters have their place in communicating information to broad audiences. However, these platforms cannot replace the one-to-one connection people have with their government and it puts those with less resources at a disadvantage.

As a Council member, I believe it is about listening to people’s concerns, meeting them where they are most comfortable, and helping them make connections with needed resources to best address their issue.

Development

In my first campaign, I was framed as a one-issue anti-development candidate. In my second bid, I was challenged not to accept campaign contributions from developers. The fact is, I am an entrepreneur and I believe in responsible private development that helps to address our current policies and goals.

On council, my decision process for development is guided on advancing and protecting our public interests and following our Comprehensive Land Use Plan. There is a false pretext that we need to bend the rules to attract developers to build in Ann Arbor. I believe through our tax base, people, and cultural institutions, we have fostered a highly desirable place to live, work, visit and invest.

It is critical for Council to complete the Comprehensive Land Use review so that it includes our values and goals of A2Zero carbon-neutrality, non-motorized transportation, and affordable housing. With this, we will have a better understanding of where our opportunities for development exist, and where supporting infrastructure and systems can accommodate denser housing vis-à-vis our stated values and goals.

True progressive land use policy needs to be holistic and must incorporate all our city’s subordinate policies. Our recent piecemeal approaches to land use – TC1 zoning and ADUs – have given us less equitable and less desirable outcomes for our community.

Our Local Independent Businesses

I have owned and operated Jerusalem Garden since I took over the business in 1993. I know first-hand the challenges many small businesses in Ann Arbor face – worker shortages, lack of workforce housing, and increasing costs of doing business. These have only gotten worse during the pandemic and the resulting inflationary pressures felt across all sectors of our economy.

At the onset of the pandemic, I meet often with our City Administrator and downtown business associations. Together, we were able to quickly respond with bagging meters to facilitate curbside pickup, closing streets and allowing for safe outdoor dining experiences, to name a few.

Our small local businesses are the heart and soul of our community’s social fabric and economic vitality, and Ann Arbor has a long history of supporting our local businesses. On council, I will continue to use my experience to focus attention on this sector of our community.