At-Large: Melissa Faulkner

I am humbled and blessed to be considered as your next Councilor-at-Large in a city with such history and diversity. I was born and raised in Salem and am blessed to be raising my five sons here. I am a renter and currently struggle to pay my bills. I am a survivor of domestic violence, have fought and won sole custody of my children, two of which have epilepsy. I also have a background as a paraprofessional and have been employed as a professional Driving School Instructor for the past four years, currently with Tanner City Driving School. I not only teach our youth, I also teach bilingual individuals and students with disabilities. I firmly believe that everyone should be afforded the right to reach their fullest potential. Nothing has been handed to me. I have knocked down every door and I will fight for the people of Salem with every fiber of my being. I seek to serve with empathy and compassion and lead with wisdom and discernment in all areas. I will work diligently and collaboratively with my community and fellow servants to see that everyone has a voice and that while we maintain and uphold Salem’s history we move forward to build a stronger Salem.

Why are you running for Councilor and what particular skills can you bring to the position?

I am running for Councilor, because I am passionate and motivated about using everything my family and I have been through for the greater good.  I want to stand and advocate for the amazing people of Salem who face similar struggles and challenges. I want to show others that regardless of what you have been or are currently going through, you can still be a voice of change. I can deliver the experience I have gained through enduring real-life challenges such as facing homelessness, domestic violence, and having children with special needs. I’ve learned to successfully navigate these challenges in the darkest of times and now I want to utilize my ability and perseverance to push forward and help others. 

A short list of reasons I believe myself a worthy candidate:

  • Want to bring forth my life experience. Really care about salem and its constituents (born and raised)

  • Representation for the common person.

  • My voice on the council can bring empathy and compassion while maintaining the wisdom and discernment necessary to lead.

  • Can be the bridge between the grievances of the constituents of Salem with my fellow councillors who can help me bring about the necessary change.

Why: 

  • I feel passionate that, through my life experience, I can be a voice for any that may be facing similar hardship

  • Directly affected by the affordable and accessible housing crisis (experience) 

  • Facing homelessness, being a survivor of domestic violence, 

  • Having to fight/learn how to stand up and speak up and be an advocate for boys and self 

  • Really believe that I have the empathy and compassion to connect with people going through similar situations 

What are some of your proposed solutions towards resolving the housing crisis in Salem?

While we have not created this housing crisis within itself, we are now faced with finding solutions in order to move forward. I believe we really need to take a comprehensive look at the current and outdated Zoning laws and make significant changes.  We as a society are responsible for making sure that the diverse needs of Salem’s residents are being met at every level and income, to the person serving your morning coffee to the store clerk to public service workers such as EMT’s, firefighters, the police, students whom of which some are sleeping in their cars to our school teachers. 

  • I want to look in depth at the two current options- Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance and Community Benefits Agreement and further examine what options have the most potential to benefit the individuals of Salem.  I would also like to see a rent-freeze and/or rent control ordinance. 

  • I am in support of amending the ordinance relative to accessory living uses which would benefit both individuals, which would provide below market rent but also supplement the owners income. My family in particular would personally benefit from this ordinance being passed. Along with this, I want to collaborate with landlords to ensure that they have access to lead-abatement programs and create a subcommittee to bridge the gap between landlords and tenants in Salem. I plan to collaborate and empower individuals that are currently receiving housing vouchers to find a better solution and pathway for a sustainable life. 

  • I am also in support of building accessible and affordable housing using the approved buildings permitted with the passage of the municipal and religious reuse program.

CBA: http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/page/community-benefits-101

Inclusionary Zoning: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/07/citylab-university-inclusionary-zoning/565181/ 

How do you see Salem impacted by the climate crisis and what new initiatives would you take to lead Salem's resiliency efforts?

With Salem being a coastal City Flooding is a huge concern. We need to conduct studies on our land in order to know how to adequately prepare for flooding while we also take necessary steps to protect and preserve our environment. We must speak loud and clear on this issue and demand reforms from our leaders. I would look at every possible energy alternative initiatives in order to see how Salem could benefit from them. Renewable energy is much more accessible nowadays. Solar panels and wind turbines create this energy without negatively impacting the environment. There is no reason why this shouldn’t be part of the foot print for every new building. Recycling must be increased to a weekly schedule vs. biweekly. I would like to create and collaborate with community groups to keep beaches clean and work on viable solutions to keep our water clean.

Please outline some ideas you have that can enhance civic engagement at the city level.

Provide an easy to use platform for innovation and engagement

  • Empower citizens

  • Develop a comprehensive communication strategy

  • Provide incentives

  • Provide sufficient staffing, resources, and success metrics

  • Partner with local businesses, schools, and community resource agencies

It’s important to note that many constituents want to attend meetings but can’t due to a lack of childcare. I would like to collaborate with youth groups such as the YMCA in offering babysitting for a donation during city council meetings so parents can attend.