Jack wants to ensure that every person has a voice at City Hall. Since March, the City has not accepted real-time public comment, allowing citizens only to submit their concerns via email. Other cities and local governments all across Florida are getting this right, and it is paramount we do as well.
Every resident should have a seat at the table at City Hall. Jack believes in public engagement on the front end, making sure everyday people can give their input before a decision is made on an issue. She also wants to make sure that our citizens advisory boards have the autonomy they need to study issues tof advise the City honestly and hold our leadership accountable.
We all deserve a say in how our City grows. Leadership is only legitimate if it can earn the trust and consent of the governed, and our City's leadership has on numerous occasions demonstrated little interest in securing either. It is not a privilege for us as residents and taxpayers to have input over decisions made at City Hall--it is our right. As commissioner, I will push for changes that not only expand civic engagement efforts to include folks who are consistently left out, but that also give real decision-making power to our communities.
ACCESS TO PUBLIC MEETINGS
One of the chief complaints I hear about locally is how difficult it is for everyday people to be involved. Public meetings are scheduled in the middle of the work day, so that only folks with enough flexibility in their schedule can participate. When decisions come up that would impact the entire community, the City only provides notice to the folks living in the immediate area. It seems sometimes that the City views public engagement as an obstacle to progress instead of the foundation of it. As a commissioner, I will be there to listen to you and to make sure your voice is heard--whether by supporting alternatively scheduled meeting times and dates or meeting with you personally to ensure that you can be a part of the decision-making process.
Jack supports investing in modernizing our local infrastructure and transportation networks, strengthening our workforce, and enhancing the quality of life of all residents. Our tax dollars should go to the benefit of everyone, not just the politically connected. Jack will fight to restore the heartbeat of our economy- our small and medium sized businesses.
People often speak about Tallahassee as a tale of two cities, and our ranking as one of the country’s most economically segregated cities proves this to be true. Together, we can work to change that. Instead of wasting millions of tax-payer money subsidizing development that would probably occur without public support and often provides little return in local economic benefit, we should begin by investing in modernizing our local infrastructure and transportation networks, enhancing the quality of life of all residents, strengthening our local workforce, and supporting local business. I will fight to prioritize local benefit over corporate profit, and ensure that subsidy recipients are held accountable for fulfilling their promises.
In today’s world, access to the internet is all but required for participation in civic life, schooling, socializing, personal health and professional development, among other things. Second only to safe neighborhoods, a recent study found that access to quality broadband was a critical factor for people and businesses when considering relocation. Low-income homes with children are four times more likely to be without broadband than their middle or upper-income counterparts. Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely to be “smartphone only” internet users, and even then, they are about twice as likely as whites to cancel their service because of the cost. Whereas incumbent internet service providers, or any further ones that come to town, can choose to invest in only the most profitable areas, leaving poor neighborhoods that need access most behind, with community fiber, we can strategically and democratically direct resources in a way that works for everyone and that uplifts our community.
LOCAL & SMALL BUSINESS
New business development is in sharp decline as fewer large corporations dominate our economy. Local business keeps money local, supports a strong middle class, is linked to higher income growth and lower levels of poverty, and employs more people per unit of sale. I will work to ensure that businesses receive the City’s full support and the resources necessary for navigating every step—from financing to design—of the process of starting or expanding a business. I will also work to minimize barriers to permitting, the use of vacant and/or historic property, ADA compliance, among other barriers faced by local businesses.
The nonprofit sector is a true economic driver in our community through the residents it employs and the services it provides. We must make substantial investments in the long-term sustainability of the sector, including increased funding through the CHSP process and an enhanced needs assessment process that accurately and comprehensively measures and responds to gaps in services.
OUR UNION WORKERS
I am a proud union member and support the rights of all workers to unionize. Our people are our most valuable resource; all workers deserve the right to collective bargaining, fair wages, and good, safe working conditions.
Jack chose to live in Tallahassee after graduating from FSU, and she has a keen appreciation for what makes Tallahassee special. She is committed to the preservation of our City’s beauty and its environment. We have one of the largest urban forest canopies in the nation, and some its most beautiful canopy roads. Jack will continue our City’s tradition of protecting its vulnerable creeks, lakes, forests, and parks. They are our greatest public asset and must be safeguarded. She supports broadening our City’s stormwater capabilities, making sure our roads and sidewalks are free of litter, and protecting our oldest, most cherished trees.
Tallahassee has one of the highest percentages of tree coverage in the nation, and our community’s commitment to the environment runs deep. Tallahassee would not be Tallahassee without the creeks, lakes, forests and parks that cover the city. They are our greatest public asset and must be protected. Beyond this basic level of respect for our living space, we must prepare to face the challenges of a changing climate, fight environmental racism and give our city-owned utility the tools it needs to become a national leader in renewable energy.
Although we are not near the coast, climate change will have global impacts and we must strive for resilience to climate change. Resilience is the ability of a system or community to recover after a shock, and respond. Resilience to climate change requires rethinking how our city functions at a high level. We are fortunate to have a skilled planning department and a chief resilience officer who are tasked with preparing the city for what appears to be an inevitably hotter, stormier and less predictable future. We need to listen to experts, scientists and planners. Expanding parks and public lands will help reduce the urban heat island effect and temper the impacts of floods. Let’s also build stronger bonds and greater trust with each other: one memorable study showed a tighter-knit community, where neighbors knew each other, dealt much better with urban heat waves. We also need to be prepared for the possibility of climate refugees, often poor and minority, from other parts of Florida and make sure they don’t slip through the cracks and are able to afford housing.
ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION & PROTECTION
One of the best ways to preserve tree cover, beneficial groundwater recharge areas and wildlife habitat is to build and grow smarter. Higher density, cutting down on sprawl and encouraging developers to implement more creative solutions than seas of parking lots. I pledge to expand parks and public lands and preserve the existing natural lands within city limits. We cannot lose decades-old forests, which supply an incredible range of ecosystem services, to chain restaurants or shopping centers that shutter in a few years.We must also work enthusiastically with the DEP to make sure that environmental laws are enforced. When developers repeatedly disregard their environmental impacts to adjacent neighborhoods and businesses, the response cannot be another slap on the wrist. Environmental racism is also a major issue. For too long, many of the greatest impacts of pollution and environmental damage have fallen on African-Americans. We need to recognize these situations and work to remedy them.
100% RENEWABLE ENERGY
100% RENEWABLE ENERGY
Last year the city made the commitment to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
While the 2050 goal is a good first step, we need to adopt 100% renewable energy as soon as possible. Our planet faces an immediate generational challenge in climate change, and we need to act locally to transition to 100% renewables in our power generation by the original 2035 deadline.
Energy generation is one piece of the puzzle. Recycling, utilities, canopy roads, supporting organic residential collection services, renewable transit, tree canopies, water quality, should also be considered in our planning.
Jack believes that everyone deserves a safe place to live, at an affordable price. Our country faces a crisis of affordable housing, and Tallahassee is no exception. To address this, Jack will fight to preserve existing housing and encourage the development of new affordable housing. She supports the expansion of our community programs that promote home ownership opportunities. She would also steer the City toward new partnerships to spur the construction of housing which working people can afford.
Our country faces an affordable housing crisis, and Tallahassee is no exception. Our history of redlining and segregation have created concentrated poverty primarily in black neighborhoods, and we must do more to address the lasting impacts of these unjust policies. To make matters worse, recent development has prioritized student and luxury housing that more often than not has led to displacement. I will fight to ensure access to safe, secure, habitable, and affordable housing for all residents while also protecting the integrity of existing neighborhoods.
PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Preserving affordable housing is generally cheaper than building new housing. The City already has grant and loan programs to support homeowners rehabilitate and maintain their properties, but more outreach is essential to educate residents about these opportunities and their maintenance responsibilities.
Tallahassee should also consider instituting a property inventory and landlord registry for nonowner-occupied housing to protect against neglect, foreclosure, predatory purchases as well as to protect tenants’ rights. Wherever possible, we should prevent unnecessary demolition, and can do so by considering a demolition tax and/or adopting a “no net-loss” policy which requires developers to replace housing units they demolish or pay a fee.
BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING
We need a comprehensive affordable housing plan that will ensure that working people have a place in our community without concentrating poverty or accelerating gentrification. As commissioner, I will work with both the city planning experts and community members to thread that needle.
I support community partnerships that increase home ownership opportunities through rent-to-own programs, down payment assistance, and homebuyer education. I also support increasing alternative housing options like community land trusts, cooperative residences, work/live spaces, and artist housing.
Jack believes public service is a public trust; our government should be community-led and accountable to the people. Jack supports campaign finance reform, a strong and independent ethics board, and strengthening penalties for ethics code violations and illicit lobbying.
Over the past few years and even still today, we see local leadership cutting deals with individuals and developers to approve mega-projects that make out-of-state developers rich and create nice new amenities for students or a select few -- but do little for the rest of us, even as we often foot the bill with our tax dollars.
That’s why we -- together -- need to stand up and demand that common sense and the public interest should decide our priorities -- not political contributions from a handful of wealthy property owners and their consultants and middlemen.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Campaigns should be funded by individuals, not businesses or dark money organizations. I support overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court case that ruled that campaign contributions are protected under the First Amendment.
We know that our decisions shouldn't come from talking points slid across the table with a handful of campaign contributions, but from people who live here, through community conversations held in rec centers and barber shops, grocery stores and city parks. That's why our campaign isn't being funded by the small group of the usual suspects - it's funded by you and it's funded by all of us.
In 2014, the City implemented a Campaign Contribution Refund Program that refunds contributions made by voters to candidates for the City Commission of up to $25. You can learn more about it here: https://www.talgov.com/Main/ethics-ccrp.aspx
Jack believes that the safety of those we love is our highest priority. Community safety is a quality of life as well as an economic issue— we can’t build a strong community or economy in an unsafe environment. Jack supports a balanced approach to tackling crime that invests primarily in essential social services and prevention as well as responsiveness. Jack also supports having an Independent Residents' Review Board with meaningful oversight authority. We must also continue to invest in and support our first responders and firefighters who serve an essential role in ensuring the public's safety.
As a legal assistant for a public defender's office, I saw firsthand our City's problems with public safety and crime. The causes of crime are complex, but we know that there are strong connections between planning, poverty, and crime. It is all of our responsibility to ensure we invest in living and social conditions that create opportunity rather than catalysts for crime.
I respect the right to bear arms. That being said, I do not support local policies that would permit open carry of firearms on public property such as parks, recreational facilities, or government buildings. We must also ensure that all firearms sold in our community are sold to responsible and accountable individuals who have undergone thorough background checks. As commissioner, I will push for policies that protect and promote responsible gun ownership while reducing the likelihood of gun violence in our community.
For decades our communities have suffered from the effects of misguided public safety strategies that combined aggressive drug enforcement, mass incarceration, and broken-windows policing. Studies now show what poor and minority folks have said for generations— that they are disproportionately targeted by these tactics and that they simply don't work to reduce crime. In the last decade or so, reforms like community policing, while well-intended, have not demonstrated the promised results. As commissioner, I will support reprioritizing additional funds as they become available toward upstream public safety solutions, like housing, public health, and education. I also support community control of our police force, including an independent review board endowed with real oversight.
Jack believes that a well-connected city is an equitable one. She understands the importance of having a variety of transportation options in Tallahassee. As an urban planner, Jack knows that a road’s design and condition is important for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians, and that we must invest in our infrastructure. An avid cyclist, Jack will work toward making sure Tallahassee finally attains a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community certification. She also wants to ensure the City invests more in sidewalk construction, and to maintain its current plans to improve the service of StarMetro.
The ability to move around town easily and safely is essential for a healthy community. Whether it's a service worker who needs to get to work on time, an elderly person who needs to get groceries, or a group of friends out for a night on the town, access to reliable transportation is the oil that keeps the local economy running smoothly. Unfortunately, our infrastructure in Tallahassee leaves out many people who have different mobility needs. Some people are unable to drive because of a disability, others may not be able to afford a car. There are also people who are able to drive, but are looking for more environmentally friendly or physically active modes of transportation, like cycling. By investing in public transit and pedestrian infrastructure, I plan to expand the available options for how we get around so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy what our beautiful city has to offer, however they choose to do it.
Aging infrastructure and poor design can cause deadly conditions for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The speed limit on a given roadway might be marked as 35mph, but design elements like wide lanes and one-way traffic facilitate and even encourage travel at much higher speeds. I will work with members of the community as well as subject matter experts to ensure that our roadways are well-maintained, and that they are designed with public safety in mind.
A neighborhood is “walkable” if the residents can comfortably access amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, and parks without needing to use a vehicle. This makes it easier for all sorts of people to actively experience the city, while also helping to reduce traffic congestion and related air pollution. This requires dense development patterns and in-fill development, as most people are unwilling to walk more than about half a mile to their destination. It also requires human-scale urban design that allows pedestrians to feel safe, comfortable, and welcome in public spaces. While not every neighborhood in Tallahassee can or even should be dense and walkable, many people in our community who value walkability are unable to enjoy it. I will work to make sure that our city grows in a way that expands the options available for all residents.
In an ideal city, residents have many modes of transportation to choose from based on their needs and preferences. This includes single-occupancy motor vehicles, city buses and/or trains, and walking/cycling. Such flexibility helps reduce congestion, which benefits the commuter and the environment alike. While we have made some limited pedestrian improvements, like short segments of protected bike lanes in the downtown area, our city is sorely lacking when it comes to public transit. Bus stops are often poorly designed, without adequate lighting or protection front the elements. Headways are far too long, with riders often waiting 45+ minutes for a ride. All of this together creates a situation where people avoid riding the bus if at all possible, which reduces fares and makes the system less efficient. I will push for more investment in our public transit system so that it provides a more comfortable, reliable, and useful service to the people of Tallahassee.
Jack understands that our neighborhoods are what makes us special. Tallahassee consists of so many unique neighborhoods that all contribute to the fabric of our city, and Jack plans to make sure City Hall works for each and every of them. Under her oversight our city’s actions and policies will benefit our neighborhoods, not hurt them. She believes we should prioritize infrastructure for neighborhoods where it makes sense most. It’s also important to her that development fits the existing character of our neighborhoods.
Jack thinks that we should all have a say in how our City grows, not just developers and well-connected insiders. She supports investing in human scale projects and developing block-by-block, one measurable improvement at a time.
Too often developers working with staff have made decisions for our community that obligate our taxpayer money and the future of our City without consensus direction from elected officials and the input of the community. Jack will be a voice to make sure we decide the shape of our community working together collaboratively.
Conventional wisdom says that if your city isn’t growing, it’s dying. There certainly is some truth to that statement, but it misses the bigger picture. There are many advantages to being a city on the rise, but the drawbacks, which often disproportionately impact the working class and other marginalized groups, can easily go underexplored. Without thoughtful policies in place to shape our growth, we could quickly find ourselves in an identity crisis along with an economic one. While the details and mechanics of these policies depend on the technical knowledge of experts in fields like urban planning and local economic development, it is vital that technocracy does not supplant democracy. We need a government that will actively engage the people of Tallahassee and work to achieve their goals instead of simply seeking the bare minimum of public input to check a box, only to proceed as they see fit. As commissioner, I will push for a more transparent and democratic planning process that values long-term sustainability over short-term profits and prioritizes the interests of working families over developers and other corporate entities.
The urban development discourse often devolves into a false choice between two supposedly opposing policy frameworks: a hyper-expansive “growth machine” that lends itself to highly unstable boom and bust cycles, or a defiant not-in-my-back-yardism that cripple a city’s ability to accommodate new residents. The former may be preferable for corporate real estate developers, and the latter to homeowners preoccupied with maintaining property value, but neither are in the best interest of the working poor, the renter population, and other underrepresented groups. We should reject this false binary and opt for an incremental, broad-based growth management approach. Not only would this prevent risky, speculative spending by the city, it would also give every community an opportunity to grow naturally instead of incentivizing the flow of capital to those who already have an abundance of resources. I will fight to prevent exploitive development, and instead advocate for growth management policies that are both equitable and sustainable.
As our community faces the challenges of the future, we can’t rely on the habits of the past. We deserve more than sprawling suburban outposts linked by multi-lane roadways lined with strip malls, big box chains, and oversized parking lots. This outdated approach to land use planning is inconvenient for residents, expensive to maintain, and harmful to the environment. Instead, we need a land use planning approach that promotes compact, mixed use development, and safe, walkable neighborhoods. I will work to ensure our land use plan reflects these values.
Property values are often the primary concern for local governments on matters of growth and development. Higher home values means more revenues, which in turn means more available funds for infrastructure upgrades and increased services. However, this single-minded approach by local governments neglects the needs of a large swath of the population. Some say that a rising tide lifts all boats, which may be true, but many people have boats that are riddled with holes and some have no boat at all. A rise in property values may be great news for homeowners, but for the renters who make up the majority of Tallahassee’s residents it means a higher cost of living and fewer housing options. Many working families find themselves priced out of communities they’ve called home for years. This phenomenon is particularly devastating to traditionally marginalized groups like african americans, who were actively denied opportunities to build capital by a century of racist policies at the national, state, and local level. I will fight for thoughtful land use policy that balances property values with the needs of the broader public so that we can reverse the trends that have made us one of the most economically segregated cities in the nation.
As our city grows, it is important that we do not lose sight of what makes our city unique. Identifying and preserving historical sites is an important part of placemaking, which enhances quality of life for Tallahassee residents, and helps bring tourism dollars into our local economy. I will work with community leaders to make sure that nobody’s history is forgotten, and that we plan our future growth in a way that incorporates these sites.
Jack believes in a City that welcomes everyone regardless of their identity or who they love. She proudly stands with the LGBTQ community, who disproportionately face discrimination in employment and housing.
Jack understands that our health is affected by access to things like healthy and local food, public safety, parks and recreational programming, transportation options, and affordable housing. It is critical that all of our plans, policies, and decisions focus on prevention and prioritizing our collective health.