Heather Bauer for City Council Platform: Back to Basics
We can build a city where everyone is safe and secure, where the environment is protected, and where business and culture thrive.
The pandemic has shown that we all depend on each other regardless of race, religion, gender, or wealth. We can build a city that works for everyone, but that means getting back to basics. The idea is simple: The basic job of government is to ensure that basic needs are met. Only then can we build new futures for ourselves.
Everyone needs a place to live.
We need to invest in neighborhood repairs and cleanup to improve the quality of homes managed by Columbia Housing Authority. We need to expand housing options by promoting responsible residential developments, in collaboration with community members, that meet local needs while protecting our neighborhoods against gentrification. We must continue to invest in clean water and improve waste management. Our neighborhoods can be clean and safe for everyone.
Everyone needs to eat.
Many neighborhoods in Columbia are “food deserts” – the only option is the corner convenience store, where the prices are high and the quality is low. Poor folks actually pay more for junk food than hipsters pay for organic chard at WholeFoods. That’s wrong. The city should be working with investors, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations to open small grocery stores across Columbia to ensure universal access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
We should identify and protect urban green space and promote agriculture within city boundaries, and we should partner with statewide organizations to build sustainable food networks that work for everyone.
Everyone needs to be safe.
Too many residents live in fear of crime, and too many neighborhoods suffer neglect. We must repair the relationship between citizens and law enforcement by extending and expanding the city’s ongoing efforts to promote community-based and service-oriented policing. To improve communication and responsiveness, we should implement evidence-based programs for building trust and promoting empathy between the police and the people. Also, because not all calls actually involve violent emergencies, we should diversify and reform our first responders to prioritize service whenever possible. We need to expand our investments in victims’ services, rehabilitation, and mental health. We can imagine a new model of community safety that protects everyone.
Everyone needs to move.
To work, to school, to church, to the store. Our streets should be safe for walking and cycling. We need to invest in building new sidewalks and bicycle paths throughout the city to connect its residential and business districts. We should promote mixed-use zoning so that grocery and retail stores are within easy walking distance of most homes. We must de-stigmatize and promote public transit while investing in technology to make it easier, more efficient, and more affordable, especially for seniors.
A livable city must be sustainable. We must re-commit ourselves to the city’s 100% Clean Energy initiative while doing more to promote clear rivers and waterways. A clean and healthy environment is good for everyone.
Everyone needs the chance to reach their full potential.
As the pandemic winds down, we need to be ready to reopen safely. We must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing while getting back to work. (I know this issue well. My small business was forced to close when COVID hit. Following the science and the CDC guidelines, we have safely reopened.)
Small businesses drive our city. We must aggressively promote entrepreneurship and smart growth. This means advocating responsible development that puts investors and entrepreneurs in conversation and partnership with communities. We need smart regulation to protect urban space and the environment while cutting needless red tape that inhibits growth. We need to make city services more efficient and cut costs to make room for new investments.
Lastly, we need to cultivate partnerships with the university and other local organizations to support culture and the arts, making Columbia a hub of innovation, creativity, and faith.
Everyone needs an advocate.
Our city has too many proposed plans that are thrown to the wayside. From Finlay Park to broken roads we need an advocate to lead the charge. As a Project Manager, I am tasked with working on a budget and on tight schedules to deliver the needed solutions. I’ll take these skills with me to City Council.
We must be a proactive council instead of reacting too late. That’s why I’ll lead the charge on creating an ad-hoc committee between city and county council. Together, we can work to be the advocate our citizens deserve.