Put me to work for you to make Greenville a place for ALL.
My campaign platform is focused on the issues I believe are the most important to our neighborhoods, now and in the future. With the accelerated growth and development we have seen in Greenville over recent years, it is critical that we have the right people on City Council and on boards and commissions at City Hall. Ensuring our future success will require hard work and tough decisions on often controversial issues. Examples include the reduction of Main Street to two lanes, the closing of the Camperdown Bridge, and the addition of Liberty Bridge and Falls Park. We need progressive leaders who will continue to make these difficult decisions, but who will also ensure the needs of our community and neighborhoods are a priority. Our community includes those neighbors who are underrepresented but deserving of our consideration in these big decisions.
A Community with Housing for All
Greenville has been blessed by a strong economy, natural beauty, and great neighborhoods. So, it is no surprise that people want to move here, build new homes or renovate many of our existing historic homes. But there has been a downside to this success. Neighborhoods are changing. The cost of homeownership and rent has drastically increased.
I want my sister and friends who teach in our public schools to be my neighbors. Our neighbors who are working minimum wage jobs will not be able to afford to live in the City if current trends continue, and this will have a detrimental impact on the many retail shops, restaurants, and hotels that make Greenville special.
There are proven solutions to our housing problem. But we must be bold in our approach. First, the City must support existing resources. For instance, the Greenville Housing Fund is currently addressing the gap in affordable housing stock. I would provide more resources and help from City Hall to support their efforts and the work of similar organizations like United Housing Connections. We also have significant local philanthropic resources including the United Way of Greenville County, Hollingsworth Funds, the Community Foundation of Greenville, and the Graham Foundation that I would collaborate with to focus their endeavors in this critical area.
We also have underutilized land and buildings that can be used for affordable housing at all levels. With the right incentives, the development community can be a part of the solution.
Finally, I am convinced that we will need to reconsider our zoning ordinances to solve our affordability crisis. I served on the task force that revised our single-family residential infill standards in 2016. Unfortunately, these revisions left work to be done. These revisions did not provide homeowners and neighborhoods enough certainty, and infill has continued to create disruption in neighborhoods that has intensified our affordable housing crisis. We can do better. My work on the Planning Commission and as an attorney make me ideally suited to solve this complex and interconnected issue.
Public Transportation for All
No one can doubt that our public transportation infrastructure can and should be better. Improved public transportation goes hand-in-hand in addressing our affordable housing issue. Many of us need better transportation to ensure we can get to work, school, and medical appointments on time and regularly. We owe it to our community to do better. And many of us have witnessed traffic congestion and parking becoming increasingly problematic in the City. Further, public transportation is environmentally responsible. We owe it to ourselves to be forward thinking and better public transportation can play an important role in addressing these concerns.
I am committed to improving the number of Greenlink routes, their frequency, and hours of service. The current hours of service simply do not accommodate people working later hours. The few routes being serviced are often far from neighborhoods and are too difficult for the elderly or families with children to use regularly. We can and should do better for our neighbors and ourselves. Fortunately, the Greenville Transit Authority’s 2020-24 Transit Development Plan for Greenlink will improve these issues, but there is more work to be done.
Greenspace and Community Centers for All
I am a strong advocate for our parks and greenspaces. My desire to run for City Council is in large part due to an interest in continuing to support our existing parks and improving the Reedy River, an iconic element of our great city that still needs significant improvement in terms of water quality, bank erosion, and overall conditions. The Unity Park planned in the Mayberry Park and the former Meadowbrook Park areas will be a significant improvement in this respect, but I am concerned that the impact on gentrification and displacement in the surrounding neighborhood will outweigh these benefits.
I also fear that the emphasis on these larger projects has resulted in a lack of focus at the neighborhood level. My interest in running for City Council was solidified by the City’s response to the damage to the Bobby Pearse Community Center in May 2018. A tree fell on the Center and a tarp was placed on the gaping hole the collapsed tree caused. At one point the City seemed intent on simply demolishing Bobby Pearse. Nearly a year later there is still no plan for the Center and we are left to assume that it is not a priority. But it is a priority to the families like mine whose children have benefited from the after school and summer programs, much like it was a priority to the family of the World War II veteran, whose mother raised private funds for the building to serve as a memorial. My focus on City Council would be ensuring elements of our community like the Bobby Pearse Community Center are not ignored.
Supporting All of Our Public Safety Officers
Our neighborhoods must remain safe. I previously read that our Police Department was operating with the same radios for nearly 20 years, and replacement parts were being purchased on eBay. Well-equipped public safety officers is critical to me and our community. Fortunately, City Council has ensured this will not be an issue in the future. But I am concerned that this issue got to this point. Our public safety officers need tools and training to perform their jobs.
But we need more than just tools and training. Our public safety officers should be as diverse as the community they serve. Only around 9% of our police officers are African-American, yet nearly 30% of our population are African-American. But our Police Department deserves credit for making an effort toward diversity hiring. I will work with Chief Miller to ensure our police officers will reflect the community they serve, and that they are trained and provided the support needed to ensure they serve and protect all of our neighborhoods, regardless of socioeconomic status or race.