Grand Haven is a unique and special place with access to the breathtaking shores of one of the largest freshwater sources in the world. Residents and visitors can enjoy the beautiful boardwalk and quaint traditional downtown that has become a much-loved meeting space for people of all ages. We also have those secret spaces like the cottages winding through the dunes in Highland Park, the Harbor Island trails, and East End Park where one can enjoy the serene spaces where the river meets the land. We have business districts that have worked hard to define themselves over the last few decades like Centertown, with great food, shops, and small businesses fit perfectly at neighborhood scale. We also have areas that are in the process of redefining themselves. The East End is an up-and-coming area with new restaurants, breweries, and stores. Behind all these areas are our people! Some have been active for decades and others are just getting involved. That’s what I love the most about this community. I love working with the parents, grandparents, teachers, business owners, activists, community organizers, entrepreneurs, non-profit workers, city staff, and corporate professionals that are defining and sustaining our city. You are my friends and neighbors in this community, and it energizes me to watch you work!
What a Brighter Future Looks Like
All of the issues below hinge on our ability to treat each other with respect and dignity. This means that we cannot look at issues as us vs. them, because our entire community is connected. Weaknesses in one area will naturally impact the others. Therefore we are all responsible to see others that disagree with us as humans and show respect.
The beauty and uniqueness of locally elected officials is we have the opportunity to interact regularly with the people in our community. This is key to ensuring that we do not forget the humanity of those we disagree with.
Attainable housing is an issue that many communities face and Grand Haven is not exempt from that. Without a healthy mix of housing options, residents lose the most common and practical source of wealth building. Additionally, this negatively impacts local businesses' ability to find and maintain adequate staffing. Unfortunately, many leaders are resolved to the assumption that it is a problem that cannot be fixed. The problem is much bigger than municipal boundaries. If elected, I will continue to work with state lawmakers to incentivize grant and funding options that allow citizens to build equity through home ownership.
We need to encourage incremental development or redevelopment of buildings along our commercial corridors. The reuse of unused commercial or public properties can help to meet some of the needs for affordable housing without jeopardizing the character of existing neighborhoods. Smaller starter homes can be placed on the second floor of retail or service spaces. This increases the vibrancy of commercial areas and promotes walkability. When we work together to challenge that status quo, we can create projects that benefit individuals, students, employees, business owners, family members, and community members.
Infrastructure & Utilities
Infrastructure is one of the most overlooked elements of most American cities. Federal policy has contributed to this dilemma, but also, local priorities and policies have deepened the issues throughout our city. In order to improve Grand Haven's infrastructure, we must focus on reducing consumption. Water usage, electricity, and traffic are all similar in that they are heavily impacted by peak consumption. This means that if we all use services at the same time, we run into issues. Thankfully this is where technology can greatly help us to change our consumption patterns without majorly inconveniencing our life. We need to invest in strategic infrastructure improvements and technology that helps us operate our utilities in the most efficient way possible.
The contamination on Harbor Island is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. We all understand that heavy industrial uses have harmful byproducts. We have all grown in our understanding of the health issues from human exposure to these contaminants. However, now that we know their impact, we are all responsible for ensuring that best practices in environmental remediation are followed. Harbor Island is less than a mile away from one of the largest freshwater sources in the country, and the source of the water we drink. We have the somber responsibility to ensure we preserve this precious commodity.
State and Federal regulators are commissioned to protect the public health of our citizens. They should be treated as allies. The stakes are too high to settle for subpar solutions. The City of Grand Haven and the BLP should seek opportunities to collaborate with other governmental units to find solutions and funding for the contamination on Harbor Island. Whether I'm elected, or just acting as a concerned mother of four, I will continue to strive to ensure that remediation on Harbor Island is a success. The health and safety of the public and my children transcend politics. As your mayor, this will be a priority.
Strengthening Commercial Corridors
After WW2, we saw an increase in car-oriented strip mall development and big box stores. Over time this has led to the hollowing out of traditional downtowns and disinvestment in small, locally-owned businesses. Thanks to many local advocates over the decades, Grand Haven's downtown has been maintained and improved. Additionally, we have seen small business growth throughout other key commercial corridors including Washington Square, East End, and Centertown. This is greatly due to the organization and collaboration of local business owners in partnership with City Staff.
I have been putting my planning experience to work for years in this space. If elected, I will work with my fellow council members to instruct the planning commission to develop Area Specific Plans (ASPs) for our key commercial areas. This gives neighbors and business owners the ability to create a collaborative vision and guiding document that communicates their goals and priorities. In turn, that can be used to leverage applicable grants and programs.
Public Art Projects
Partnership in Community Events
Multi-modal Transportation Growth
Roadmap to Development for Small Businesses
Appropriate Zoning Ordinance Amendments
I stand firmly opposed to the goals, tactics, and actions of Ottawa Impact and the elected officials that have been elected under their banner. In less than one year Ottawa Impact has managed to cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and has put our county into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Not only have they overstepped and abused their authority, but they have done so in complete contrast to the message of “transparency” that they claimed they were running on.
I want to ensure that my stance is very clear. I strongly oppose the work of Ottawa Impact and I will stand with our local community, especially those that have been targeted for discrimination, to ensure that Ottawa Impact is never able to gain a foothold in Grand Haven city government.
BLP Charter Change
I support the charter change. As a Trustee, I see firsthand how this Board is functioning. Unfortunately, it is continuous and painfully ineffective.
The structure of the Board of Light & Power (BLP) as written in the City of Grand Haven Charter is confusing and creates departments within our city that operate in a disjointed manner. Effective asset management requires that departments within the City communicate and collaborate with each other. Currently, it is very difficult for information sharing and collaboration between the BLP and other city departments. This can prove to be very detrimental in the case of a natural disaster or other emergencies. Future focused policy requires collaboration between departments. The current structure of the BLP was implemented in 1959. Times have changed. There is a quick example of this: right now, the BLP resists providing electric vehicle charging stations in Grand Haven, despite the availability of outside funds to implement them, and increasing demand. Additionally, shared asset management planning can save money, and help to maximize the full life of infrastructure.
The charter amendment creates accountability. People may not realize this: Investor-owned utilities are regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. However, because we are publicly owned, we are governed by the City Charter. The Grand Haven BLP may be the only community owned electricity provider in Michigan that sets its own rates and fees, which it does very opaquely. With the Charter Change, there will be greater opportunities for citizen input on costs, planning, and budgeting. This is LONG overdue. The current charter has ambiguous language that has led to the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power using ratepayer funds to fight with the City Attorney over meanings and responsibilities. Thankfully, the charter amendment allows for general accountability through administrative processes and creates a clear structure for problem solving.
Of the 22 members of the Michigan Public Power Agency in the state of Michigan, Grand Haven BLP is one of only two elected municipal utility boards. Other municipal utilities are either governed by their Council/Commission or by an appointed board. Of the appointed boards, most are advisory. There are many ways for a utility board to be effectively structured, but independently elected boards are not the norm. I am voting yes.