Supporting Local Businesses
Increasing mixed-use zoning in high residential area's
This would allow for greater flexibility and encourage entrepreneurs and start-up creation. For example, you could take a home zoned for mixed-use and on the first floor you could have a business and on the second floor is the owner's living area.
Local Business Priority Ordinance
Gives priority status to local and regional (Upper Peninsula) businesses and developers for purchasing and developing city owned land.
Waiving permitting required for outdoor seating
The Marquette City Commission did this in response to the 50% indoor seating restrictions in response to COVID-19. This decision however was only temporary, we could remove this barrier permanently and areas such as 3 rd Street and Washington street would boom with foot traffic and especially if the city installs benches on the widened sidewalks.
Selectively increasing the maximum height allowed in commerce districts
Just to clarify, this would not include the lakeshore. This would allow office buildings to increase space, workforce, and accommodate small local street-level shops on the first floor of some buildings. This adds entrepreneurial buzz at the ground level and has added benefit of increasing density rather than sprawling.
Small Business and entrepreneur dashboard on the city website
Provides guidance, applications, forms, and external contact information for reaching local entrepreneurial and economic development groups in the Marquette area. I did have an alternative to this mentioned to me, which consisted of creating a new position and hiring a local business liaison.
Creating a healthier walk and spend environment
By creating/maintaining wider sidewalks, bike lanes, and installing public benches and trees when possible we can continue to foster a dynamic and appealing atmosphere for consumers to enjoy and increase the amount of money spent locally.
Increasing public transportation
Creating a bus loop in conjunction with the County that has multiple stops throughout residential neighborhoods, several stops throughout 3 rd street and Washington street commerce areas, locally owned hotels, the hospital, NMU, and some public parks.
Supporting Workers and Families
Community Benefits Agreements
Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) primarily help protect low-income and working-class families and secure benefits for the community as a whole. More often than not local economic development projects are only possible due to tax incentives offered to developers, but unfortunately, they often have no guaranteed direct benefits for the community. Community Benefits Agreements create an opportunity to establish a dialogue between developers and community members from the early stages in a project, with the goal of resolving issues and disputes, building community support for the project, and meeting community needs and priorities such as affordable/workforce housing, hiring locally, creating green spaces, community assets, etc. The possible benefits for allowing the public more of a voice in these processes are limitless and the agreements are flexible enough to allow each Agreement to be tailored to the needs of the community while still being mindful of the developer's financial or logistical constraints.
The City Commission could establish a basic framework for implementing CBAs by passing a Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO). A CBO would simply give the Commission a legislative basis to initiate community dialogue and the creation of CBA for projects that meet certain minimum requirements. A CBO could also include language for the Commission to appoint a City Commissioner as a liaison with the CBA committee for a specific project, which would include community members and the developer. This liaison could represent the City Commission in the discussions between community members and the developer, help mediate conflicts, reduce bias if a Commissioner has a negative relationship with the developer or with community organizations likely to be involved in the Agreement, and take advantage of positive relationships one Commissioner may have with the developer and community organizations. This process would facilitate a positive partnership between all those involved instead of approaching this issue from an adversarial standpoint.
Responsible Contractor Policy
The City should look to include the use of responsible contractor language on City projects. The City can establish an agreement that workers being used by a private contractor on City projects have the opportunity to receive an apprenticeship and on the job training for the work they are doing. This would also provide a great opportunity for the City to partner with Northern Michigan University’s middle college technical program and retain a greater amount of skilled youth workers in our community. This language can also be used to protect workers by requiring the contractor to have up-to-date State safety licensing. I would note that responsible contractor language can be used in both Community Benefits Agreements and in City projects.
Stance on Privatization and Use of Non-Local Contractors
When most people hear “military-grade,” think top quality or that it’s superior to “civilian grade.” As someone who’s been in the military for almost six years now, I can tell you that when I hear “military-grade” what I think is, “This was made by the lowest bidder.” Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it? The same is true for City projects: who would you rather develop our community’s infrastructure - skilled workers who live and work in the community and use the completed infrastructure every day, or the lowest bidder who pulls up stakes and heads to the next community?
State Preemption Issues and Solutions
In 2015, the State of Michigan passed Public Act 105 which explicitly prohibits local governments from requiring or mandating any of the following provisions on a developer or private contractor regardless if they are receiving special tax incentives, grants, or other incentives. Local governments cannot mandate the following: payment of wages higher then the State minimum wage, fringe benefits, work stopped for strike activity, providing employee paid or unpaid leave time, regulating work hours or scheduling, apprenticeship training programs, wage, hour, or benefits disputes. With that being said, the CBA language I outlined above complies with Section 15 of the act because it is an agreement made with the developer. Once the Benefits Agreement is finalized it would then become an amendment to the financing authorization which means the Benefits Agreement is valid and enforceable once the financing authorization is approved by the Commission.
Leading by Example
The Commission should explore options to assist our own employees and set the standard for helping workers and their families. The City could help employees with finding childcare services, guaranteeing an adequate amount of paid family leave, and guaranteeing a prevailing wage relevant to each occupational position and compare wages with other Municipalities throughout the Upper Peninsula to ensure we are being competitive and can retain our current employees.
Increasing Housing Affordability
Our City has a significant challenge ahead regarding housing affordability and retaining working families and young talent. Recent data indicates that 45% of Marquette County residents are either living in poverty or are considered “Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed” (ALICE), which essentially means working full time but unable to afford a basic household budget. Similarly, about 1 in 3 City of Marquette households are “cost-burdened,” meaning housing costs alone consume more than 30% of their income. This is a serious issue and needs to be a top priority moving forward. I have a plan on how to address this, but I should note that the City Commission has created an Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee to study this issue and I look forward to hearing their recommendations. Here are some of mine:
Ease up on our restrictive zoning policy regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs, a.k.a. “granny flats”), and make it easier for property owners to build and rent them. ADUs have been very successful at expanding the “missing middle” rental housing market in other communities.
Zone more neighborhoods as Medium Density Residential, which would allow duplexes to exist alongside single-family homes. With that same thought in mind, we should also look at selectively making medium density zones less restrictive and allow for triplexes and fourplexes to also be created in these zones.
Work with developers and the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to build more low-to-medium-income housing while still making the projects financially feasible for them.
Ease the lot coverage restrictions set on multi-family residential districts, which currently only allows apartment buildings to exist on 20% of the lot that the building is on. Many communities throughout the Upper Peninsula have this coverage set at 35-40%, and by increasing it we could increase the number of rental apartments on the same lots that are already zoned for multi-family residential.
As a Native American, being a steward of our environment is important to me and dates back to a principle called the “seven generations philosophy.” This philosophy was a way of thinking and governing in some indigenous societies that challenged decision-makers to ask themselves “Will the decisions made today, benefit our children seven generations from now?” If elected to the City Commission, I will fight to protect our lakeshore, trails, woodlands, and wetlands. We need to protect and preserve the natural beauty we still have and leave our children and grandchildren with the same Marquette we all fell in love with. This means opposing more high-rise condos being built on the waterfront and taking steps such as putting additional Heartwood Property lands into the conservation easement that the City Commission established earlier this year.