"I have lived in Union County since 1978. I've witnessed many changes, both good and bad. I believe Monroe has the potential for greatness and I'm hoping voters will allow me the chance to help make that greatness a reality for all residents.
LIST OF ISSUES
It's no surprise that Monroe is experiencing an explosion of growth. Based on our proximity to Charlotte, it was only a matter of time. Sadly, I believe that this growth isn't being managed in a smart and productive way. During Covid lockdown, approximately 6500 homes were approved, without allowing the public to give any meaningful input and another 3500 are in the pipeline, awaiting approval. We are at the cusp of doubling our population size and I believe we need leaders going forward who are willing to place more importance on the needs or all, rather than just on their own wallets and individual neighborhoods. We must recognize that any rezoning will have a huge impact on the lives of many of our citizens. We simply cannot continue to hand over our city to developers without weighing the impact on our schools, roads, environment, infrastructure and emergency services. Your voice and concerns should matter and be paramount to your leaders when they are making decisions regarding growth. As Mayor, I would always advocate for ways to ensure that the voices and concerns of residents be considered.
As I see it, there are several housing issues that must be addressed for Monroe to thrive. Based on the last census in 2010, numbers indicated Monroe is at 50 percent owner 40 percent rental and 10 percent vacant. It is likely that those numbers have increased, as there has been no visible effort from the city to entice developers to build quality, affordable housing here. As a result, there is very little of that type of workforce housing available for entry and mid-level workers within a few miles of downtown. So while Economic Development is bringing technical jobs to Monroe, there is nowhere for the entry level workforce to live within the city. There is nothing of quality for the college grad either. Most available housing is in significant disrepair, or drastically overpriced. Why does this matter? Well, in order for a downtown to thrive, it must be surrounded by neighborhoods with residents who want and are able to support downtown merchants. If the people earning money at jobs in Monroe, are living in Matthews, you can bet they will head to Charlotte on weekends, since its equidistant. Monroe needs to market to the young professionals looking to rent or purchase their first home . This demographic is looking for housing in a vibrant downtown with shopping and restaurants that are within walking or biking distance from where they live. I believe that Monroe desperately needs to begin cultivating developers willing and able to bring these sorts of developments here quickly.
Two years ago, Monroe spent quite a bit of money on an initiative called "Forward Monroe". Based on the results of study and public input, they discovered many residents want nice green spaces and greenways that allow for easy movement by either walking or riding a bike. Gateway Park that was just completed is a great start to making this a reality, and I think it is important to develop more areas like this in neighborhoods while also maintaining our parks, trees, greenways and water.
Communities in the US have seen an increase in crime over the last decade and Monroe is no different. We have a high quality police department who works hard to keep our communities safe but they can't do it alone. It's proven that we cannot arrest our way out of our crime problem and if elected, I plan to use all available codes and city departments to address this issue. In addition, I foresee that Monroe will experience a LEO shortage that will be felt even more acutely as these newly approved developments reach completion. With 30 years of law enforcement experience, no other Mayoral candidate is as prepared for this eventuality than I am.
ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL
As long as I can remember I have always had pets and animals in my world. Pets can contribute tremendously to peoples quality of life of our families and our community . But when mistreated or neglected, it doesn't just negatively impact the lives of the animals, but it is detrimental to all of us. Unwanted and neglected pets are a serious problem in Monroe and Union county. Last year, 694 dogs from Monroe were turned into the Union County shelter. That number is far too high and we need to look at making changes to our current animal control codes. I would also like to work with local animal rescues and the community members to discuss ways that we can implement simple and inexpensive solutions to improve the lives of the creatures who live with us.
We need to continue to support the aerospace industry that is growing out by the airport, as well as attract new and diverse business. However, we also need to start concentrating some of our effort on the downtown. The new trend in housing is to be close to a vibrant clean & safe downtown. Over and over, studies show that you can't have a vibrant downtown without the surrounding areas that can support it. We need to again market Monroe and make her the center of Union County! 52,000 vehicles pass through Hwy 74 on a regular basis and very few of those travelers even know that Monroe has an Historic downtown. This needs to change. Many cities in and around the area are leveraging and maximizing their history, but not Monroe. We need to get the word out and encourage travelers to visit our downtown merchants. Increased traffic will bring funds and new merchants downtown and we will all be better for it.
Successful cities celebrate diversity! Monroe should be no different. We are a community of diverse population and it's reflected in her culture and businesses. I would continue encouraging diversity in our population, and would work to find ways to help encourage different cultures to get to know and respect each other. I would also actively work to get members of various communities to get involved with city committees so that there is balanced and diverse representation when decisions are being made that will affect the lives of everyone. I believe this is such an important part of growing and thriving community!