As a Navy veteran, I understand how difficult it is to transition into civilian life. The daunting task for those sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen leaving the military can unfortunately lead to stress on themselves and their families. I am running to strengthen our current programs and resources to better help our veterans adjust into their new lives and find careers.
Our aging infrastructure requires immediate attention. We have allowed our right-of-ways, our sidewalks and our streets throughout the city to deteriorate and crumble. To correct this, we will take a hard look at our city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and prioritize the needs of the city that will help reduce pedestrian injuries and vehicle damage, and improve congestion and movement. We must also ensure that all legislation that appropriates taxpayer funds for a CIP project shall contain a 10 year projection on maintenance costs, so we can better plan for the years ahead.
As someone who has worn a uniform, I personally believe our first responders in both the Jacksonville Sheriff's’ Office and in the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department deserve our respect for keeping our streets and our families protected each day. We must build a strong relationship and maintain effective communication between our law enforcement and neighborhoods, if we desire to reduce crime and ensure each neighborhood is a “walkable” neighborhood. We should also support our Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, which is faced with the difficult and trying task of dealing with our city’s opioid epidemic. As your City Councilmember, I vow to provide our first responders with the resources and tools to best serve and protect our city and our families. Though we must also ensure we have goals and real plans to fight against crime and injustice in our community, through excellent training, retention of good officers, and engagement with the community at all levels.
I believe in smart growth. We need to promote and incentivize development in areas that meet infrastructure, water, and quality of life needs. Continuing to sprawl without adequate infrastructure not only increases costs to residents and businesses, but will ultimately hurt the city’s ability to respond to growth needs. Lastly, this poor growth model increases costs, decreases positive growth, and doesn’t meet the future needs of our city. We have so much potential in Jacksonville, but we need to ensure we are planning properly.
District 7: Our district is one of the most diverse in Jacksonville. Whether you live downtown, Brooklyn, College Gardens, our historic neighborhoods of Murray Hill, Riverside, Springfield, Avondale and Ortega, or the vibrant 5-Points area, this district has some of the most devoted residents a city can hope for. Our District’s residents have come together to infuse new life into some of our oldest buildings, and create new businesses that rejuvenate the area. To continue this trend, I believe the city must provide incentives to stimulate small business growth, while being more mindful of the traffic and congestion that affects our communities, families, and their safety.
Downtown: There are far too many dilapidated and crumbling buildings lining the beautiful St. Johns River and inhabiting our urban core. We need leadership that will infuse energy and direction, and will utilize public and private partnerships to rebuild our downtown into a major economic engine and entertainment destination. Frankly, we need real downtown advocates who recognize its value. A strong downtown will enhance the surrounding neighborhoods, and boost economic drivers right here in our district. And of course, let’s move that jail out of downtown!
Parking: As the City and our neighborhoods continue to grow, we cannot afford to ignore the parking problems that exist. As your representative on City Council, I will work hand-in-hand with local residents, business owners, and community leaders to make sure that there are plans to address parking problems and enforcement before new projects are completed.
Our City is massive in size, which makes it incredibly difficult for some to get around, especially if they don’t have access to a car. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has a lot of responsibilities to help our residents get around effectively and efficiently, but we need leaders who can support their goals. No one should have to take a 2-hour trip to and from work within their own city, and we need solutions and goals to ensure this doesn’t happen. We also finally need to acknowledge that real mass transit is necessary for our city to succeed in the 21st century. Spending money on transit is a necessary investment for the future of any city, but we shouldn’t waste money on transit options that only help a small sector of the public, or don’t improve upon what already exists. The mass transit option should ultimately connect all parts of the city and be able alleviate the number of vehicles on the road by offering another option. Anything less would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Our teachers deserve the utmost support from our political leaders. There are few careers more rewarding and challenging than educating our youth. We need to make sure our schools, teachers, and staff have the necessary tools to ensure students are safe and well prepared for each school year. Better partnerships and engagement with our Duval County School District is one of the keys to long-term improvement of our schools.
The St. Johns River is not only beautiful, but it’s a natural resource that defines our city. District 7 is fortunate to be located along the river, and we need to ensure it is protected. Just as city leaders developed the River Accord in 2003, we need new leaders who will step up and properly implement the policies we agreed to 15 years ago, so we can keep our river healthy for future generations. Reviewing the effectiveness of our policies and working with local organizations to implement new cleanup measures will strengthen the economic value our river brings for tourists and our citizens.