Attending and participating in many Public Committee and Town Council meetings during the last 5 years, I have learned a good deal about the process of government in Abita Springs. It is apparent to me that serving as an Alderman requires a skill set that I possess, and I am ready to dedicate my time in service to my neighbors and constituents. I am a problem solver, and look forward to the opportunity to address some challenges which the Town has been grappling with.
I am particularly proud of serving as the Chair of the Abita Committee for Energy Sustainability, a group of 15 volunteer Board Members who work to implement the Town’s renewable energy goals. We were successful in campaigning the Town Council to sign, unanimously, a Resolution for 100% Clean Energy for the Town by 2030.
I founded the Campus Community Garden at Portland State University in 1993, which is still thriving after 25 years. Shortly thereafter I earned my Master Gardener Certification, which still proves practical in my everyday life. These two successes led to my being appointed as my neighborhood’s Tree Liaison with the City of Portland.
I am a single mother raising 2 teenage boys, which is a challenge, but definitely the most rewarding role I have played in life. I love being a mother, and am proud of my little family. The knowledge gained from this perspective has been invaluable to my ability to relate to my constituents, and address their concerns based on mutual struggle and frustration with the system. My ability to understand the realities of living in the low to middle income bracket gives me an edge which is not available to all of my peers.
We are anticipating the creation of a Town Master Plan, and the Board of Aldermen will be closely involved in its structure and implementation. That Master Plan will have many facets, some of which should address these issues:
Maintain our Quality of Life:
Protect our Resources:
I believe we need to address the current ordinances regarding new construction, as this will be an important way to mitigate overdevelopment as we head into a future with a much larger population. Specifically, these ordinances need to include regulation regarding Slab-on-Grade foundations, Energy Efficiency, and Green Space. I also support the amendment of rules pertaining to our tree ordinance, which do not adequately protect our old growth forest and mature canopy, which is irreplaceable. Another area of concern is the type of businesses which are permitted by Planning and Zoning, as currently there are few restrictions to businesses which are potentially hazardous to our groundwater, traffic patterns, and young residents.
Other than raising property millage rates, what plans, if any, do you have to increase town revenues in ways that are consistent with economic growth and a healthy, prosperous, livable, and safe community?
I believe that we are missing some tremendous opportunities to gain revenue from existing sources. This can be addressed through annexation of current businesses operating just outside Town limits, which would generate Ad Valorum tax revenue. I also feel the Town should focus on its historically prosperous business of Tourism, and encourage the growth of businesses which support that industry. This tact is not only historically appropriate, but will mitigate the rampant growth of development on the outskirts of town. Tourism would support an economy which is based on green spaces, the hospitality industry, family fun attractions, etc. Rather than promote businesses which would serve a larger population, we should be supporting businesses which serve a temporary population of tourists. Employment for locals would increase,, improving the job market.
I have already recommended to the Board that we continue to investigate opportunities to reduce our electricity use via energy efficiency measures, the implementation of solar projects, and continual education of residents about reducing their energy consumption. I would continue to press for these changes, as they will reduce the expenses of The Town through lower utility costs, less electricity purchased, and more money in taxpayers pockets to spend on the local economy.
I would recommend that the Planning and Zoning Commission consider a significant change to the currently allowed new construction parameters. While the new Historic Guidelines are much more detailed than they were previously, the Building Code we utilize is from 2009. We need to update to the 2018 version.
I am relieved that the current administration has initiated the process of devising a Master Plan, although I am disappointed that they chose to hire an outside consultant at a significant cost. Even so, I am anxious to be a part of the process involved in creating the Master Plan, which is long overdue. I believe the outline for how the plan is created is already decided upon, but I am hopeful that participation will be expected, encouraged and widespread. When citizens are included in the development of a plan which will affect their lives, the success of said plan is nearly guaranteed.
My main concerns for the environment of Abita are the maintenance of our water quality and air purity, the protection of our trees, plants, animals and micronutrients, and especially, the integrity of the systems which naturally protect these parts. In order to protect this ecosystem, we should focus our time and money on these specific issues: Flooding, drainage and run-off, as it relates to new construction of slabs versus raised structures; the use of herbicides, pesticides and insecticides near our waterways, schools and edible gardens; the Tree Ordinance and its lack of protection of undergrowth, erosion prone soils, root systems, and waterways; types and size of new businesses permitted in Town limits, energy efficiency as it relates to older historic buildings, new construction, and our municipal buildings, the protection of existing greenways and creating a plan for acquiring spaces for Town buffer zones, and existing waste of water and electricity in public areas.
I have chosen to run as a No Party candidate. I believe that politics has gotten in the way of good governing. Abita Springs needs to be governed by people who care for our collective well-being, and I don’t see a place for partisan politics in this model. We have gained worldwide notoriety as a town which has chosen to implement a clean energy strategy, by a board which is entirely conservative in political persuasion. While I admire our council for understanding the economic benefit of renewable energy, I also feel that the discussion of political affinity has bogged down the discussion of how to move forward in a way that is amenable to a healthy, prosperous, successful Abita Springs. Therefore, I have decided to show my nonpartisan approach publically, and hope that voters understand the importance of focusing on our Town’s success, rather than any Political agenda.