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Platform

As your City Councillor, I will work tirelessly to maintain Salem's identity as a city rich in history, culture, diversity, and the arts.  I will bring my passion for community and public service to this office and work to keep our city vibrant and thriving.  My main areas of focus will be economic development, housing, infrastructure and sustainability, historic preservation and thoughtful development.  

Economic Development

A strong economy and responsible fiscal planning are critical to maintaining our thriving city.  Last year the City of Salem received its tenth Distinguished Budget Presentation award from the Government Finance Officers Assoc, a nationwide nonprofit organization.  This reflects the responsible management and financial practices of Mayor Driscoll, our City Council and Agencies, and our Finance Department.  As your City Councillor, I will proudly continue to be fiscally responsible and push to secure grants and other outside funds to lesson the need to rely on taxpayers.  
 
I also support the Municipal and Religious Adaptive Reuse Overlay Ordinance.  Empty buildings that sit for long lengths of time have a negative effect on the surrounding businesses and the community.  They become more costly and less desirable for developers, and the city has fewer options for reuse.  If a building meets the requirements of the ordinance (age, size, etc), this ordinance provides zoning flexibility to allow for reuse, either by a public or private entity, which will best serve the community and will minimize the impact to surrounding neighborhoods. 
 
Another obstacle to addressing issues and city business in general is the length of time taken for legislation/ordinances to go through the City Council process.  I support a time limit for city business to go to a "subcommittee" for review.  When this happens, important issues tend to sit in committee for extended periods of time and can result in no action at all.  There needs to be a definitive amount of time allowed for a subcommittee review, then action should be taken by the City Council.  I will also advocate for smooth and timely permitting and licensing processes to promote a business friendly community.
 
Housing

The cost of housing in Salem, as in many cities and towns, has become increasingly unattainable for too many.  Young people working two jobs while going to school, seniors and veterans on a fixed income, people with disabilities, and many others are at risk of not being able to stay in their homes.  We need more affordable housing for our low and middle income community members.  We are also in urgent need of housing for our homeless community.  As your City Councillor, I will fight to create more permanent, supportive housing to help homeless individuals achieve independence and stability.  I had the honor of touring a new development for this purpose on Boston Street last November with 26 units of permanent housing which was the result of the City of Salem working with Harborlight Community Partners and other agencies.  It was impressive, and I will push for similar housing options to be initiated. 

I will also support an inclusionary zoning ordinance to increase the number of affordable units required in new developments, without the ordinance having an automatic option to opt out of the requirement by paying a fee.  I will work with the Dept of Planning and Community Development, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board, and Mayor Driscoll to develop ideas and options for affordable housing, and make every effort to pursue any state and federal grants/incentives available.
 

Infrastructure and Sustainability

Especially here in New England, it is critical to maintain a strong, resilient infrastructure.  As your City Councillor, I will focus on the quality, integrity, and maintenance of our parks, public spaces, sidewalks and streets.  I will work with the Traffic and Parking Commission to implement their ideas/initiatives, without unnecessary processing delays in the City Council.  I will push for new and existing buildings to maintain the highest "green" standard possible.  In December 2018, Salem received a "Leading by Example" award for clean energy and sustainability leadership.  I will work with the Sustainability, Energy and Resiliency Committee, and the Conservation Commission, to proudly continue Salem's commitment to coastal resiliency, and to reducing the environmental impact associated with municipal operations.  

Historic Preservation and Thoughtful Development

Of all there is to appreciate and treasure here in Salem, our extraordinary history is at the top of my list.  I will focus on maintaining the beauty and integrity of our historical buildings and structures, and will seek out and welcome the input and advice from our city boards/committees and community members to make that happen.  I will work with the Salem Redevelopment Authority, the Community Preservation Committee, the Historical Commission, and the Dept of Planning and Community Development to ensure every effort is made to keep our rich history intact for many generations to come. 

I look forward to earning the opportunity to be your City Councillor and working with Salem's terrific team of Mayor Driscoll, our City Council, our city boards/commissions, and our community members!

 

 


Committee to Elect Alice Merkl
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