Opportunity and achievement shouldn't be based on race, zip code, or personal background. By tackling the issues that matter the most to constituents, we can collaborate to create a resilient District that ensures success for all. That's what I've focused on along my journey, and it is how I intend to govern. Here is the start of my vision for District 8.
The irreversible consequences of climate change are knocking on District 8’s door. Even though Chattanooga is one of the South’s most beautiful cities, we’ve got work to do. Litter, illegal dumping, and crumbling infrastructure are easy to find in District 8. It’s time for District 8 to lead by example and do our part to keep our corner of the planet healthy. Here’s how we’re going to do it:
Begin regular community cleanups and education. We’ll partner with organizations like Sunrise Chatt, Greensteps, Public Works, and Healing Gardens CHA to educate community members on waste reduction, composting, and recycling, while we collaborate and clean our district. District 8 is ready to lead by example when it comes to being good stewards of our natural resources. With organization and education, we’ll clean and revitalize our district.
Invest in infrastructure and create green jobs. Climate action and economic gains aren’t mutually exclusive. With creative thinking, the ongoing climate crisis can be transformed into a labor revolution, giving good-paying, stable work to communities in need. City-led climate action could support and create jobs; we need a robust workforce to help us reduce carbon emissions, decarbonize buildings, transform public transportation, install and maintain solar fields, and so much more. The climate crisis is our opportunity to train skilled workers from disadvantaged communities so they can secure high-wage, environmentally responsible careers.
Introduce a robust environmental public policy. The people are their most powerful when they band together. District 8 is full of climate activists and organizations ready to unite our community and get involved. Together, we will work to draft short and long-term goals for District 8, pushing the city toward carbon neutrality, zero waste, and stronger environmental protections.
Urbanization brings innovation and collaboration, but it often weakens our relationship to the land. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking. Our efforts in District 8 can’t stop climate change on a global scale, but we can create a culture focused on stewarding the land correctly, in hopes that the generation after us is more prepared than ever to fight climate change.
Let’s say it plainly: Housing is a human right. Our region’s spiking home prices are forcing our neighbors out of their communities and into the streets. We can give our neighbors the comfort and safety of home if we remain open to progressive housing policies that prioritize dignity and respect for citizens. Here’s how we’re going to do it:
Explore new tools to combat the housing crisis. Housing is a human right, and the lack of stable housing is sending shockwaves through District 8. Considering ADUs is a promising first step, but we cannot stop there. Look at a city like Vienna–the city government purchases unused land and saves it for affordable housing. Afterward, the city requests proposals from developers, and a committee chooses the winning proposal according to four parameters: architectural quality, environmental performance, social sustainability, and economic parameters such as proposed rent levels and costs. Once a proposal is selected, the city sells the land at an affordable promise with the stipulation that half of the housing units must be allotted to low-income residents. Rents are regulated by the city government so that none of the residents pay any more than 20 to 25 percent of their household income for housing. Read more about Vienna’s solution by clicking here.
Create a community land trust. A community land trust (CLT) is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to acquire and steward housing. It is governed or advised by residents and community members and focuses on a defined geographical area and uses a variety of tools to achieve and permanently preserve affordability. CLT ownership of the land, along with durable affordability controls over the resale of any housing built on that land, ensures that municipally subsidized homes remain available for lower-income homebuyers for generations to come. We will work with partners and stakeholders to develop a community land trust to ensure that there is a robust stock of permanently affordable housing in district 8. Community Organization CALEB completed a community land trust feasibility study for the city of Chattanooga, read it here https://www.calebcha.org/cltstudy.html.
Permanent, supportive housing for homeless and returning citizens. Supportive housing not only gives residents an opportunity to be housed first, but they are also connected to vital resources and employment opportunities. Supportive housing also is a cost-effective method as it encourages the preservation of existing structures (motels, hotels, commercial real estate) and revitalizes them. Chattanooga should partner with Step Up Second https://www.stepup.org/services/permanent-supportive-housing/, and take a proactive approach to enact a local model that will house homeless individuals. The city should also create partnerships with local reentry programs like Step Up Second, Project Return, and The BRAVE EFFECT, to help prioritize and navigate citizens reentering society to housing. Nashville just broke ground on a downtown apartment complex for chronically homeless, read about it here https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/davidson/2022/05/31/nashville-apartment-complex-chronic-homeless-breaks-ground/7460222001/.
Solving a complex problem such as a housing crisis will require a long-term commitment to progressive measures that put power back into the hands of the people through public policy and proper investment. An incremental approach will not help us solve the convoluted problem of creating enough housing for the most vulnerable of our populations. However there are countries such as Vienna, organizations like Step Up Second, and ideas like community land trusts are successful, working solutions. Chattanooga has to embrace new pathways and partnerships to solve this problem.
It shouldn’t be a crime to be poor, and we shouldn’t view incarceration as a one-size-fits-all solution. Doing so is a waste of taxpayer money that fails to produce favorable outcomes and rehabilitate lives. It’s a lazy approach to law enforcement, and we deserve better. Here’s how I’m going to fix public safety in District 8:
Explore cite and release policies for non-violent offenses. Detaining and jailing citizens for crimes without victims such as simple possession, criminal trespassing, driving without a license, public intoxication, and more, is a waste of taxpayer money. Cite and release policies ensure offenders are not detained, and the money allotted for their detainment can be used for real community needs such as housing, health care, mental health services, and more. Cite and release policies are sensible, economical, and would give District 8 powerful tools to combat criminalization, incarceration, and recidivism.
Introduce a robust mental health response program. Too often, emergency personnel respond to mental health crises with force and violence, and Chattanooga is no exception. Lazy, inhumane shows of force kill people that simply need help. Look at the CAHOOTS (crisis assistance helping out on the streets) program in Eugene, OR – medics, crisis specialists, and mental health experts are dispatched from a non-emergency number. CAHOOTS has not only reduced the workload of the Eugene Police Department, but they’ve also saved taxpayers millions.
Build harm reduction teams. The Opioid Crisis has not spare Tennessee. For years, our state has suffered. Harm reduction policies accept that drugs are in our communities and work to remove stigmas and educate citizens on how to use them safely, if that is their choice. A city-wide team would provide users with clean syringes, hygiene kits, wound care kits, and reproductive health kits, while building relationships in the community. You can read more about harm reduction strategies by clicking here.
Repeating the same processes and hoping for a different outcome is the definition of insanity. It’s time to retire the ineffective policies we cling to and replace them with strategies that recognize and honor our humanity.
I’m proposing solutions that are proven to work at scale, restore respect and dignity to community members, and begin to heal wounds in Black and Brown communities that have been harmed time and time again. The policies I’m putting forward focus on recuperation and rehabilitation, not simple punishment. This is restorative justice, not punitive responses that ruin lives.
If we have the courage to evaluate our policies honestly, we will see that we aren’t maximizing our potential to help and support our citizens, save taxpayer money, and end practices that disproportionately affect minority communities.
District 8 isn’t on the same playing field as the rest of Chattanooga. We’ve been left behind and overlooked for millions in support and economic investment. Everyone deserves access to career paths that grow wealth, support our community, and protect our future. Here’s how we’re going to get it done:
Connect residents to future-ready job training. By 2025, millennials will be 75% of the workforce. Younger generations must be trained to work in the jobs left vacant by baby boomers, and we will connect them with future-ready jobs that capitalize on our city’s world-class internet. Chattanooga is an emerging regional technology hub, and it’s time for District 8 to capitalize. Click here to read about job training already happening in Chattanooga.
Ensure promised funds reach our small business owners. The American Rescue Plan sent Chattanooga $38 million. Via Executive Order 13985, these funds are set aside for economic repair and historically underserved communities. As councilwoman, I want to ensure that a portion of those funds is budgeted for minority business and workforce development. Funds should be allocated for business startup capital to cultivate, grow, promote, and support small businesses, improve broadband access, and close the racial entrepreneurship gap. Read more about the role the American Rescue Plan plays in small business revitalization by clicking here.
Invest in career pathways. District 8 is home to 14 different education centers, ranging from elementary to college. At these sites, we will organize and host popup events teaching about labor unions, employee relations, and all the opportunities Chattanooga offers District 8’s young residents.
District 8 is home to some of Chattanooga’s brightest business minds and hardest working hands–throughout the District, you’ll see small businesses on every corner. We don’t lack talent or ability, we only lack support.