Public Transportation: From the rider's perspective, Bloomington city bus service is not often very efficient. A rider is limited by routing and frequency of buses and there are several areas of the city where there is not bus service at all, or service is limited, including some areas of District 3. Improving the system would be extremely helpful to many Bloomington residents. The challenging task of improving the efficiency of city buses is ongoing. Improving this system is in everyone's best interest.
Early Child Care: In Monroe County there are more young children in need of quality childcare and preschool than there are available slots. This leaves families with young children in impossible situations trying to balance careers and adequate, safe, childcare, especially families who are already living on the edge of financial solvency. Adding to the challenge is a shortage of licensed preschool teachers.
Family Housing: My time spent volunteering with the Interfaith Winter Homeless Shelter and my work with refugees in Bloomington has shown me first hand how difficult it is to find affordable, safe, family housing in Bloomington. The rental market revolves around the student body such that finding an affordable apartment that meets family needs and is available between October-April with a rental agency that might consider renting to a person or family without a credit history or with a poor credit history is like finding a needle in a haystack. Dodging predatory landlords and unsafe living conditions contributes to this challenge. Not having housing, having temporary housing, or insecure housing puts a huge strain on families and can inhibit success in other areas. It is hard to make plans, including gainful employment, if you aren't sure where you might sleep next week or next month. Stabilizing housing for all residents should be a priority and will have trickle down effects of improving overall safety and stability for all city residents.
Justice and Equity
No system is ever going to work well for every person all of the time, but we can seek to do better to ensure that systems are equitable and public feedback is invited. The best way to ensure systematic equality is to hear directly from the people who the system is not working for and use that constructive feedback to modify existing systems and create new ones.
One specific area I believe the city can do better in that regard relates to neighborhood associations. Neighborhood associations are great tools for feedback about city policies and infrastructure and can serve as valuable platforms for discussion and community connection. Unfortunately, the current system of neighborhood associations in Bloomington excludes, sometimes with deliberation, people living in multi-family housing units-i.e. apartments. This means that people living in apartments (who are usually in lower economic classes) are excluded from the kind of feedback and discussion that those living in neighborhoods of single family homes take for granted. Deliberate and focused expansion of the Neighborhood Association Program in Bloomington to systematically include people living in multi-family housing units would be a step forward for equity and inclusion.
Earth's climate is changing and as a city we can either be reactive or proactive regarding how our environment is going to be altered. Many city projects have sought to address a future with alternate energy sources, mobility options, and a more connected infrastructure. These include solar panel installations, bicycle lanes, and city-wide fiber installation to support teleworking. Continuing and expanding this area is essential so our community will continue to prosper in the future. Unless we adapt and take steps to reverse a climate disaster society will be unable to continue expanding and serving the needs of the populace.
I'm eager to take a look at the possibilities regarding initiatives to expand composting participation in Bloomington, assess the recycling program and expand recycling opportunities to more residents, create idle-free zones, and continue to collaborate regionally so that climate related issues can be addressed on a larger scale.
Support for Education
I am a passionate supporter of public education and am personally invested in Monroe County Community Schools through my two children who are currently enrolled in MCCSC. My dedication to education led me to dedicate many hours to the Parent-Teacher Organization at University Elementary School, including serving as President and Vice President for a combined 5 years. Strong communities build strong schools and, in turn, strong schools build strong communities. Equity in education, for the good of individual children and the whole community, is essential. City government can encourage that equity through infrastructure improvements around schools and through housing initiatives. For example, in neighborhoods where many children walk to school it is very important that the sidewalks be present and maintained, including enforcing snow removal procedures. City government can provide housing incentives or zoning variances throughout the city that would allow more affordable family housing, thereby expanding income diversity in neighborhood schools. Everyone has a stake in ensuring that a high quality educational experience is accessible for all children.
Communication and Engagement
I take the role of elected representative seriously. It would be an honor to serve District 3 on Bloomington's City Council, but it is service and the role is one that is supposed to represent the residents of Bloomington and not any one interest group, including my own. This service requires communication with residents and I pledge to seek out that communication and not just wait for people to find me. This includes having regular constituent meetings, showing up at community events, and being responsive to email communication. It also means assessing who I have not heard from and actively seeking feedback from those folks.
Secondly, I would like to expand opportunities for civic engagement and civic education within Bloomington. The roles of county government vs. city government, different departments, and how those entities overlap and work together are not intuitive, but an effective, advanced society will be transparent and offer guidance to residents who need to use, understand, and give feedback to these systems.