Reducing poverty in Henrico must be a priority. Our poverty rate is rising faster than any other jurisdiction in our region. I appreciate how this question recognizes that a mix of polices will be needed to stem poverty. We need positive economic development, affordable housing, strong schools and better transit to continue to improve opportunities for all in Henrico. I strongly support regional cooperation as we work to reduce poverty.
We need more affordable housing in the County. To do this we need greater diversity of lot sizes and we need to allow increased housing density. By creating more affordable housing we can reduce the financial burden on Henricoans.
We need effective regional transit that brings the area together and allows folks to move between the counties and the City. I support the Greater RVA Transit Vision Plan which seeks to have mass transit unify the area in a self-sustaining, efficient way by 2040. In the shorter term, I support extending the Bus Rapid Transit Line in Henrico, beyond Willow Lawn. Transit funding needs to come from a mix of local, state and potentially federal resources.
We need to assess what we have and seek projects that can improve our pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure in cost effective ways. There are places where paving a simple 10-foot stretch could connect two neighborhoods for bikers and walkers. I would look for conservative ways to provide maximum return. We need to do some of the simple things - like crosswalks and safety lights. Sadly, Henrico County has the highest amount of pedestrian fatalities in our region.
My priorities will be to address what I see as the three most significant challenges confronting the Brookland District of Henrico: the need to keep our schools strong, creating and maintaining well-paying jobs and a skilled workforce, and revitalizing retail/business corridors in the District such as Staples Mill east of Parham as well as ensuring residential development meets community needs
I’ll keep taxes low and support economic development. I’ll back new and upgraded schools, competitive teacher salaries, reduced class sizes, and workforce programs to ensure jobs for high school grads who wish to forgo college. I’ll make youth sports programs a major priority. Such programs develop good character, physical strength, team skills, and a good work ethic for their participants. These are all important components of productive citizens later in life.
As planning commissioner, I’ve backed a wide variety of housing developments to serve a broad economic range of citizens. I’ve backed real estate tax relief for seniors on fixed incomes, and I’ve supported Board actions that ultimately dropped our tax rates to the lowest of Virginia’s largest localities. Such actions serve to help homeowners and renters, and they attract and keep businesses that provide better paying jobs for citizens so they can afford better housing.
I’m hopeful about the potential to expand train facilities on Staples Mill Road, since demand for that service is high. I’m open to expanding bus routes where unfilled jobs abound, like in the Innsbrook area. This can help Henrico citizens and employers alike, which is good for everyone. Ultimately, I will review transportation opportunities to ensure we make the most of them within the means we have available. While public support is needed, user fees must be part of the equation as well.
I support 2017 budget items expanding sidewalks, increasing pedestrian paths and bicycle lanes. These are wonderful additions that are worthy of public support, but only where demand exists in areas where cyclists and pedestrians need and want them. I’m open to more of these improvements in the future, and I will also seek such considerations from developers when they are planning new subdivisions where residents would benefit from them.
I want to be a voice for citizens in County affairs, and to provide the kind of “full-time” customer service that Dick Glover did. I’ll work to improve education, make neighborhoods more attractive, keep communities safe, expand parks and recreation, and back measures aimed at greater economic development and job opportunity in Henrico. Meanwhile, I will fight to ensure our tax rates remain the lowest of Virginia’s largest localities.