Priorities and Accomplishments

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When I first ran for city council in 2011, I pledged to be a responsible steward of your tax dollars, to proactively address key 2nd Ward concerns and issues, and to bring an independent, common-sense perspective and voice to the council table.  I’ve worked hard to fulfill those commitments, and my priorities and guiding principles have not changed:

  • Fiscal responsibility – ensure your tax dollars are spent wisely, efficiently, and consistent with your priorities; insist on sound budgetary discipline
  • Responsible, sensible growth – realize economic growth through development that builds on the character of Ann Arbor and maintains the integrity and livability of our neighborhoods
  • Spending priorities – Basic services and Infrastructure re-investment shape the city budget to reflect these priorities; carefully scrutinize new discretionary spending proposals
  • Meaningful community engagement – increased level of meaningful resident and neighborhood engagement in decisions and policies impacting them
  • Taking the lead in addressing 2nd Ward issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed financial pressures on city government and on residents. Although the adverse impacts on the city are uncertain at this point, initial estimates for the fiscal year beginning July 1st are revenue losses of $10M in the city’s general fund and another $10M combined in the water, sewer and street funds.

The city can never afford to do all that elected officials and residents would like, but now the choices are even more difficult.  Fiscal responsibility and robust prioritization of scarce resources is always important – it’s absolutely essential in times like these.

In prioritizing city spending, my core belief is that city government spending should be aligned with community priorities, not those of elected officials and staff.  After all, it’s your money.  I led efforts to engage the community in setting budget priorities through two citizen surveys related to city spending conducted over the last 18 months.

I believe strongly that additional participation by residents is necessary to inform the difficult financial decisions the city will be making.  Especially now, the city must focus its resources and dollars on the continuing delivery of high-quality essential services and re-investment in core infrastructure  – streets, water, sewers – not on discretionary new programs, however desirable their objectives may seem.

Accomplishments

Here are a few examples of my work for Neighborhood Protection, Fiscal Responsibility, and Responsive City Government!

  • Opposed provisions of A2Zero Plan permitting apartment buildings and mixed uses in any single-family neighborhood
  • Advocated for neighbors impacted by outsized residential development (Nixon Farms, South Pond Village)
  • Led efforts to address traffic congestion problems on Nixon Corridor
  • Led efforts for pedestrian safety improvements at Huron High School (RRFB’s, crosswalks etc.) and elsewhere in 2nd Ward
  • Championed efforts to align City spending with community priorities though citizen surveys and City’s adoption of “Priority Based Budgeting” approach
  • Authored 40+ budget amendments to re-allocate spending to your priorities
  • Helped neighbors mitigate impacts of construction projects (Geddes, Nixon, others)
  • Led the fight for fairer water rates for homeowners
  • Advocated for neighbors impacted by UM projects (garage on Green, Inglis House, Fraternity regulations)
  • Initiated creation of City fund for new streetlight installations to improve neighborhood safety
  • Sponsored actions to increase opportunities for resident participation in planning processes (Special Exception Use Approvals, Traffic Calming and Master Plan update processes)
  • Sponsored resolutions to support/facilitate local business recovery from COVID-19 impacts and to provide taxpayers temporary tax relief
  • Ensured a funding plan and prioritization framework was in place before adoption of City’s A2Zero carbon neutrality plan
  • Authored resolution establishing Council’s guidance/expectations in implementation of the City’s Financial Recovery Plan required due to COVID-19 revenue impacts on city
  • Addressed City legacy costs by championing re-structuring of city pension plan to a more predictable, lower risk/cost, better funded plan
  • Championed returning almost $1 million in “Percent for Art” funds to their original sources (street, water/sewer, parks) for infrastructure re-investment