As an undergraduate student at Indiana University, I can bring a different perspective to City Council that has been missing for 50 years! It is important to have diverse perspectives when trying to come up with solutions to complex issues. I may be young, but I don't have no experience, I just have different experience. Experience that will help improve Bloomington.
Bloomington is facing a growing housing affordability crisis for both homeowners and renters that requires all hands on deck to solve. This will require Bloomington to develop and change to meet the needs of its citizens.
There are legitimate concerns with increasing development in Bloomington such as an increased strain on our natural resources, an increase in traffic, and potential changes to the character of our community. I believe we can mitigate these concerns through careful policy decisions. If we allow new housing infrastructure to be spread out throughout Bloomington, that will cause less changes to the character of certain areas and reduce the likelihood of increased traffic. We can also invest in new and cleaner forms of public transportation to alleviate automobile traffic. However, we have to act to stop our housing affordability crisis from growing any larger and more difficult to solve.
Additionally, I believe Bloomington should have less red tape preventing homeowners from making their homes into the places they once dreamed. If someone wants to add a small garage to protect their cars from the elements or expand the space of their garden they should be able to do so without going through a bureaucratic mess. People have the right to make basic improvements to their homes and our city will be better for it. This is why I will fight for that change and many others on Bloomington City Council.
We need to protect Bloomington's natural resources and beauty for generations to come by making our city as resilient and sustainable as possible. We should do everything in our power to encourage solar energy through the Unified Development Ordinance. We should also expand the city's composting pilot program and create a new program to encourage homeowners to put native plants in their yard which will not only beautify our neighborhoods but also improve our local ecosystem. I also support increasing funding for our city's Parks Department to facilitate the removal of invasive species as well as leaving as many fall leaves on the ground as can be safely done to help fertilize future plant growth.
As someone who has used our city's public transportation system to get from campus to the County Election Board Office so I could register my fellow students to vote, I can say firsthand that we need to improve public transportation. Our buses need to run more frequently so people can easily take buses to work, school, or to run errands rather than having to plan their whole day around the bus schedule.
I applaud our current City Council's historic investment in public transportation but we can and must do more to reduce traffic, help people travel around Bloomington affordably, and make our city more environmentally friendly including making 100% of Bloomington's new buses fully electric.
People deserve to be safe within the City of Bloomington. That includes more traditional meanings of safety such as protection from crime but also includes the ability to be safe when walking or biking around our city. The Bloomington Police Department should be able to hire and retain good officers easily. Having more qualified and upstanding officers work for us will help keep our community safe and will ensure Bloomington can protect itself from dangers such as drunk drivers.
Cycling and walking around Bloomington can be dangerous as we tragically saw last fall. Our city needs to create new and better bike lanes to create a degree of separation between cars and cyclists on as many roads as possible, enhancing their safety. We also need to improve some of our sidewalks that are in poor condition as well as connect as many sidewalks as possible so pedestrians can easily and safely travel around Bloomington.
We should use the city's resources to take care of our homeless population in a humane way. Homeless people are still people and deserve to be treated as such. We should provide access to shelter and basic necessities, not take them away like we have in the past.
We also need to coordinate with the county to promote mental health and substance abuse treatment and continue our work with organizations like Centerstone to help connect people with permanent solutions to homelessness.