Foster’s Candidate Profile 2023
I didn't get to see your candidate profile in Foster's Daily Democrat. What were your responses to their questions?
Below are the answers that I provided to Fosters Daily Democrat. Where there is a more in-depth response on this website, it is linked following the response to Foster’s.
Bachelor of Science, Business Administration.
Local business owner, digital marketing agency.
Political or Civic Experience Highlights
I currently serve on the Energy Commission, am chairperson of the Utilities Commission, am an active Vouchers for Veterans (nonprofit) board member, and participate as ambassador chair for the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce.
What would be your top three priorities if you are elected?
- Dover must prioritize the expansion of affordable housing options. In addition to increasing social stability and equity, affordable housing delivers economic benefits. First, residents spend money at local businesses. Second, Dover local businesses are trying to hire, but do not have access to needed talent, leaving them unable to serve their addressable market.
- Dover must make it easier to discover and access — greater convenience and less friction — local businesses. Local business is the lifeblood of a resilient economy through: A) their diversification of risk, and B) the money they return to local economies. When a community is supported by few large employers, and one exits, the impact on employment and taxpayers is severe. After the cessation of COVID restrictions, local businesses added employees faster than their corporate counterparts.
- Dover public schools require prerequisite tools to deliver quality education. Dover can’t attract substitutes. Students required to have aides — don’t have them. Detractors may argue that every dollar spent on education means a higher tax bill. However, education is a criterion when parents select a community in which to live. Families drive a lot of consumer spending. Education is an investment that is returned as educated children and a healthier tax base. An unhealthy tax base will negatively impact taxes. Municipalities have high fixed costs that, by nature of being fixed, don’t decrease with less consumption.
What Is the Biggest Problem Dover Is Facing and How You Would Solve It?
Common to municipalities, Dover has high fixed costs. These are expenses that are not variable with consumption. Examples include buildings, water and sewer infrastructure, debt service, existing contract obligations, and insurance. There are more. All of these things are funded by the Dover taxpayer. Over time, costs increase and maintenance expenses go up. Regulatory pressure also demands costly infrastructure investment. The most viable way to limit the burden on Dover taxpayers is to increase the tax base. Dover needs to add more taxpayers by plugging new taxpayers into existing infrastructure with excess capacity.
We have levers to do that. First, create more affordable housing. Second, add new mixed-use development with residences on top, and businesses on the bottom. These maximize space and promote walking and cycling as a natural deterrent to traffic. They also deliver convenient access to local businesses. Third, Dover can create a network effect through local businesses. A high density of local businesses attracts consumers, which attracts more local businesses, which attracts more consumers.
Should the City Work to Create below Market Rate Housing, and Where Is the Best Site?
Yes. Below market rate housing needs to exist within walking or biking distance of employment centers. It must be served by public transportation. The average cost of a vehicle is more than $48,000. The average age of a vehicle is more than 12.5 years. The cost of transportation is a barrier to employment.
Should the Council Address the pace and Type of Development in the City? If Yes, How?
The City needs to increase the tax base. Responsible development is a good thing. We can accomplish that while maintaining the character of the city and our historic downtown. Mixed-use developments should be encouraged. They give residents access to local businesses, and they give local businesses a built-in customer base. Furthermore, when more residents are able to meet some of their consumer needs within their development, they minimize capacity utilization on city roads.
Does the City Need to Make Changes to its Approach to Parking as Development Increases?
Yes. Prioritize multi-level parking over parking lots. Even in a busy area, a given parking space goes unused most of the time. Additionally, per the City, “An annual average total cost of approximately $3.5 million has been spent on stormwater management and flood resilience each of the past five years.” Parking lots are all impermeable surfaces. New parking lots add impermeable surfaces. Parking garages create less runoff.
Giving preference to multi-level parking over parking lots will limit runoff, allow Dover to preserve green spaces, and maintain more available capacity for future development. Google Earth best illustrates the problem of parking lots. Visit earth.google.com, and search for “Gillette Stadium.” Parking areas dwarf the stadium area.
What Is the City Doing Well and Where Is There Room for Improvement?
I love Dover. My daughter goes to Dover Middle School. The teachers are thoughtful, caring, and communicative, and she likes school. Years ago, before I participated in Dover’s Citizens Leadership Academy and joined a Commission, I had a cynical impression of city governments in general. I was happy to have my bias reversed. Reasonable people disagree on issues and solutions. City employees are hardworking, good people. Dover’s Chamber of Commerce is fantastic. I’ve met more friendly and talented business owners and artists than I can count. I believe Dover is welcoming to people of all walks of life, and I experience a lot of community pride. A community can have a nice baseball field, but challenges are solved and overcome by people. Quality of life is improved through people. Dover is filled with good people and good intent.
In addition to advancing the initiatives previously described, we could make meaningful improvements to how we articulate value and get buy-in from residents and taxpayers when embracing an initiative. This is also a lever to getting more input and engagement from residents, which we need.
There’s so much information, it’s hard for stakeholders with limited available time to discern: What’s the problem? What’s the root cause? What are solutions to solve the problem? What’s the selected solution and why? What’s the plan to measure expected versus actual outcomes? What’s the plan to adapt and test? Plan. Do. Check. Act. (PDCA).
What Is the City’s Responsibility to Its Homeless Population, Both This Winter and Long Term?
Homelessness is a challenge across the country. It is incumbent upon Dover to care for our homeless population. I know people disagree about shelter being a human right. It gets extremely cold in the winter, and we’re incurring extraordinarily hot summers. I hope we can agree together that — living is a human right. Warming centers and cooling centers are of literal, vital importance. Further, we need to work with the homeless and make resources available to the homeless, to help them find an exit path. I know people who have been homeless. With the help they need, they got out, and now they’re employed, and contribute to their communities and economies.
Want to dig deeper? Read some of the linked documents to learn more.
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