When I ran for city council, there were overall goals I had in mind for Champaign. While I've been serving on council, those goals haven't changed, and there are, of course, some new ones.
Improve our neighborhoods and maintain infrastructure
Work with our public safety network, and greater community, to face down our gun violence problem
Keep Champaign's economic engine going by continuing to make the community a great place for jobs
Foster the promotion of local business
Smart urban growth
Ensure that our community is a safe, welcoming place for all
Keep Champaign a thriving, welcoming community for arts & culture
NEIGHBORHOODS & INFRASTRUCTURE
If neighborhoods are the heart and soul of a community, then the infrastructure is its bones. Improvements are being made to our roads and sewers, but there's still work to be done.
We have increased the hotel/motel tax in order to reduce the back log of road work improvements that need to be done in our community.
We have undertaken a staggered increase in the Stormwater Utility Fee -- first in 2019, then in 2021 -- to help with the flooding and drainage issues in the Garden Hill neighborhood, a project that is long overdue. This will greatly improve the quality of life for the residents of the affected area.
Our community, along with others in central Illinois, has seen an increase in gun violence in recent years. This is not acceptable. The police, those of us on the city council, and concerned community members are working on finding a solution to this problem. Programs such as CU Fresh Start/Community Coalition seek a targeted approach to deter gun violence. With call-in events, law enforcement, and social services working together, we hope to see dramatic improvement with the situation. The health and safety of our city depends on it.
COMMERCE & ECONOMY
Champaign continues to grow because of its strong economy.
Champaign is a business-friendly city and, of course, I'd like to maintain that environment. Whether it's working to keep local businesses downtown, bringing in outside companies to invest in our community, or ensuring that small local business can thrive, I will continue to cooperate with whoever is serious about working together for the economic stability of city of Champaign. I want ours to be a welcoming city for entrepreneurs.
Of course, the biggest economic engine we have here is the University of Illinois. As an employee there myself, I have a vested interest in seeing it continue to succeed. With state funding always uncertain, we have to work together to help it remain one of the preeminent universities in the United States. I will continue to work to maintain the good working relationship that the city has with the university.
Whether it's a program to help promote the development of minority-owned and small businesses, the Youth Employment Services (YES) program, boosting tourism promotion through Visit Champaign County, or the UC2B/i3 high-speed Internet installation project, our city has collaborated with various entities to foster a positive environment of economic growth opportunity for a large swath of the community. I am proud to have been a part of these collaborations, and will support efforts to ensure that this continues.
ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABILITY
I am in favor of infill development whenever possible. When our city does expand outward, it must be done smartly and with care. The Carle-at-the-Fields project, approved and underway during my term on council, is an example of this. Requirements such as walkable space, quality building materials, shade trees, and sufficient permeable surfaces allow for new development that takes the environment into account.
The continued promotion of bike lanes, LEED certification, green business practices and council's protection of the Mahomet Aquifer are further examples of our commitment to sustainability.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is quoted as saying, "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society." I agree with him.
I support funding our first responders (Fire, Police) as they are vital community services.
I consider any proposed tax increase thoughtfully and thoroughly. As a homeowner and taxpayer in the community, I know all-too-well the burdens a tax increase can bring.
CULTURE & THE ARTS
As your council member, it has been my honor to serve as the city's liaison to the 40 North Arts Council. Champaign is a hub of artistic expression, from the many types of local music and arts festivals that call our community home, to the annual LGBTQ Pride Fest celebration, and unique venues like Cowboy Monkey, 51 Main, the 40.1 Art Gallery space, and the 40 North Arts Council. I am committed to continuing the city's support of culture, diversity and the arts.