1. Why am I running for office?
I am running for office because I want to have a roll in and have an impact on what happens in this community. I am the voice of the people. I believe in equity and a Kalamazoo that does not just speak to that, but actually exercises that actively through policies, programs, initiatives, funding, and resolutions. Our commission should reflect the community at large. I have a track record of success and I represent the diverse perspectives in this community.
2. Why should voters elect me?
I get what it takes and have what it takes to effect change and improve the quality of life for residents of this great city. I believe in transparency and education as it relates to local government. We are a diverse city and our commission should reflect that. I understand the roles and responsibilities of a commissioner. I am also very connected to the community as I am a lifelong resident who is active in social justice issues. I understand policy and also understand the value of human life. I am about building positive interpersonal and business relationships for the betterment of Kalamazoo, addressing issues at the root, communicating with other municipalities, and making advancements and a difference in our city. My husband and I are raising our children here, I have family here, and I care about what happens in this community.
3. How would I improve affordable housing in Kalamazoo?
As a housing advocate and current city commissioner, I believe that the city should work with other municipalities to develop a regional plan for housing. Our city and the entire community will be better if we all work together. There is nowhere in the United States where an employed person making minimum wage can afford rent on a market rate 2-bedroom apartment. The vast majority of the population is a car accident, health issue, or crisis away from homelessness. Affordability needs to be defined. Currently the Area Median Income (AMI) includes all of Kalamazoo County, it shows that there is upwards of a $30,000 difference between actual income of residents of certain neighborhoods such as North side, East side and Vine (the incomes in these neighborhoods are on the lower side in comparison). Over the past year I have researched best practices and led the charge to create and introduce equitable policies to increase housing choice. I am in support of raising the small area fair market rents so people with vouchers can have true housing choice. I also consider those who wish to buy and need affordable homeownership opportunities. Many would-be homeowners are priced out of the market because home price growth has exceeded income growth. Fewer homes are available at affordable prices. We need to explore and execute viable non traditional solutions to homeownership and be very intentional about increasing homeownership amongst populations that have historically been and continue to be denied opportunities. I would look to local funders as there is no shortage of resources in this community. I support zoning changes to allow for more housing opportunities, which the city has already started, as well as supporting projects like the tiny homes, and developing community benefit agreements and any equitable policy or practice that gives people chances to live well, build wealth, and not be burdened by housing costs.
4. What is my stance on immigrant rights, especially regarding DACA, sanctuary cities, and ICE holds?
I believe every person deserves the right to a high quality of life. The immigration process is complex, lengthy, inequitable and expensive. Simple paths should be established so people can apply to become citizens. DACA should be supported, so young people who are undocumented can be protected, allowed to work, and they should also be guided through a path to become U.S. citizens. With that being said, I do not support ICE holds and I believe every city should protect its residents with no variance based on documentation or legal status.
5. Do I support the LGBTQ+ community in Kalamazoo county? What steps would I take, if any, to improve equal rights protections of the LGBTQ+ community?
I support the LGBTQ+ community in Kalamazoo County. Prior to becoming a Kalamazoo City Commissioner and during, I have drafted policy and pushed for policy that would strengthen protections for all marginalized groups. A few years ago local protections were added for gender identity and sexual orientation, however the enforcement piece is lacking. I am currently leading a movement to create a Human Rights Commission to handle local issues of discrimination. That is a step in the right direction.
6. Do i support an economic development strategy for the City of Kalamazoo, and what policies might lend themselves to enhance the local economy?
I support an economic strategy for the
City of Kalamazoo. Policies that allow for mixed use residential and commercial
zoning lend themselves to enhancing the local economy. Policies that remove barriers from people wanting to enter the workforce and support for entrepreneurs and small business is key. I believe we can draft policy using an equity lens that will lend itself to inclusion, opportunities, and increased wages which will increase our tax base and help our community thrive. I support policies that provide incentives to local businesses, offer job
training while being mindful that the skills
that are being invested in are what is in