The needs of our community are very broad, encompassing everything from social justice and community-building, to health care provision, infrastructure improvement, educational advancements, sustainability, workforce development ,and high-value collaboration with our neighbors. There’s much to be done for Charlottesville’s citizens. Here are a few areas where I would like to focus:
Move Charlottesville Forward with a focus on …
Workforce Development: Piedmont Promise
During my time on the School Board we significantly increased the graduation rate–but many jobs in today’s knowledge-based economy require more than a high school diploma. Too many of our neighbors are unable to realize the benefits of the new economy, simply because they lack access to further training.
We also know that employers need a better-trained workforce. Our own Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce ranks workforce development as their second highest concern, and of their members, 50 percent plan on hiring new employees this year.
In short, there’s a huge opportunity here for Charlottesville’s residents and employers. Let’s make the important changes that will help us build a strong, prosperous community that benefits everyone.
My initiative, The Piedmont Promise aims to train our local workforce for the 21st Century. If a student graduates from CHS with a GPA of 2.5 or better, and the student’s family resides in the city and earns the local median income ($63,000/year) or less, the city will pay the graduating student’s tuition to attend a certificate program or an associate degree program at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
This is a major step toward solving our workforce challenge, and it can be accomplished within the scope of our current population and budget. If we were to pay for 100 students per year with a total of 200 at one time to attend PVCC, it would cost approximately $800,000.
Let’s commit our resources to supporting our own residents’ growth in the 21st Century economy. At the same time, let’s create the workforce our employers need and want! [top]
If we want to encourage the next generation of leaders to live and stay in Charlottesville, they must be able to afford to live here.
We are fortunate to continue to attract new people to our community. We have welcomed nearly 6,000 new residents within the past six years. We all like to welcome new neighbors, but few of us like the sprawl and rising housing prices that often accompany it.
I commend the current City Council for doubling the Affordable Housing Fund but I don’t believe that the Fund alone, is the solution to our affordable housing challenge. We need to use the valuable information that we have gained from the many studies we have commissioned in the past years and work to implement some of their recommendations. We have discovered that our oldest and youngest residents need housing. They would prefer transitional type housing, such as town homes, condos and apartments with connectivity to our world class hospitals and other amenities within Charlottesville.
Keeping the needs of the Charlottesville community in mind, I’d like to work closely with the private sector and our neighborhood associations to find practical solutions that balance the need for growth with the need to preserve the character of our neighborhoods and communities. We can find smart new ways to keep Charlottesville not just growing, but growing stronger. [top]
For Charlottesville’s future and for the future of our planet, we need to make sure we’re creating a healthy environment for generations to come. Our city is already a leader in creating connected biking and walking paths, as well as in recycling. I fully support these efforts– but let’s look even further, into new areas where we can improve.
The City has already begun investing in our environment, with its Department of Environmental Sustainability. Let’s make sure we leverage the Department’s expertise in new and existing projects and in building environmentally sound structures.
I would like to expand this environmental movement with the Bring a Bag Initiative. As a community, we need to reduce the amount of plastic we use and consume. The plastic in our landfills doesn’t easily biodegrade–meaning that, hundreds of years from now, it will still be here in Central Virginia for our descendants to deal with.
I propose that, for all city events, plastic bags will be eliminated and residents encouraged to Bring a Bag. Staying conscious of our community’s environmental impact is important for the future of our children.
Palo Alto’s “Ban the Bag” Initiative banned plastic bags within city limits. This small town started a trend and now the whole of California has banned plastic bags.
Charlottesville can be a trend setter on the East Coast–let’s see if we can “ban the bag” in our City sponsored events!
Let’s move Charlottesville forward by helping to protect the environment for our children. [top]
Building Great Community Relationships
Let’s do our very best to nurture great relationships with Albemarle County, the University of Virginia and various stakeholders throughout Charlottesville and Central Virginia.
Albemarle County is a special neighbor. We share so many key resources with the Albemarle community, including infrastructure, transportation systems, parks, water and sewer infrastructure. We need to work as a strong city-county team to make these amenities and shared resources work for all of us. And even increase our partnerships for the future of our residents.
We’ve developed a number of partnerships with the University of Virginia that are extremely beneficial to students throughout the Charlottesville city schools. These programs include curriculum writing in our STEM courses, as well as a range of high-impact reading programs. Let’s work to build even more programs that are beneficial to the University and Charlottesville communities—there are tremendous opportunities for partnership and cooperation in workforce development and entrepreneurship.
There are so many opportunities to build a prosperous, broadly beneficial future for the Charlottesville and University communities, and I want to make it happen.
Fundamentally, we all want a city in which we can successfully grow a family, grow a business or career and grow old in. We all want a city that continues to accept and welcome newcomers, while remaining home to those who have been here for generations. We all want a city that our children will choose to stay in as they start their own families. These needs are not mutually exclusive –we can find smart solutions aimed at building a community that meets the needs of the many, not the few. Working together, we can keep Moving Charlottesville Forward! [top]