Facebook: Stacia Kraft Write-In Candidate Ward 2, Salem, MA
Website: www.staciakraft.com (will be up soon)
· Salem resident for 30 years.
· Professional musician
· Mother of three children, all of whom have attended Salem Public Schools K-12.
· Organized the new Salem High School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO).
· Founded the Leslie's Retreat Re-enactment and Celebration, an annual series of events celebrating Leslie's Retreat.
· Co-founded Derby Square Flea Salvage Art Market, Established in September 2015, the market featured vendors of up-cycled furniture, architectural salvage, vintage clothing and collectibles as well as work by local artists and artisans.
· Founded the Plummer Home Garden Project, a volunteer-based garden project that pairs experienced gardeners with adolescent boys from the Plummer Home. The project is recognized for creating positive relationships with nature and community while developing skills in gardening, healthy eating, and entrepreneurship.
· Helped establish the Salem Community Gardens, which continue to connect people to nature, food and their community in neighborhoods around Salem.
· Organized Love Salem Schools, an initiative that connected businesses with Salem Public School parents and students in a creative and positive PR/fundraising campaign during Valentine’s Week.
· Led a variety of Saltonstall School Friday Clubs, a series of enrichment clubs for elementary students.
· Served on the board of Historic Salem Inc. and was a decorator for Christmas in Salem.
· Served on the Bike Path Committee and the Beautification Committee.
· Performed benefit concerts for the Salem Community Gardens, the Plummer Home Garden Project, Historic Salem Inc. and the Saltonstall School.
Why are you running for Councilor and what particular skills can you bring to the position?
I have been hearing this question a lot, “Why did you decide to be a write in candidate?” Well, that’s a fair question. Following the preliminary election, it became clear that with no challenger on the ballot for Ward 2, voters had no way to express their frustration with a councillor they find disengaged and whose priorities they do not always share. I had been asked to run earlier, but this fall many more people from all over Ward 2 asked me to run. So, I decided it was something I had to do. Yes, I'm late to the game, but I'm in it to win for these people.
Why did people ask me to run? Having lived in both precincts of Ward Two, I know the ward issues. I lived for years on Bridge Street Neck, and was a member of the neighborhood group that came up with
that name for the area. Right now I live at the other end, near St. James. And in launching the Derby Square Flea Salvage Art Market I got to know a lot of downtown residents and business owners.
In addition, I have a long history of rolling up my sleeves and of putting a lot of energy into creative placemaking projects in Salem. I am known for my ability to make things happen and for my straight forward and effective communication style.
What are some of your proposed solutions towards resolving the housing crisis in Salem?
In 1974, Ada Louise Huxtable talked about urban renewal as “a die-stamped plan across the country in the name of traffic improvement…” Today, urban renewal is die-stamped in the name of a housing crisis. Huxtable described urban renewal plans “marked by an insensitivity that amounted to sabotage…” with results that “were destroying…the identity and character that are the soul of a city or town.” Huxtable described Salem as “one of the most historic cities in the country.” And that “the city could not have done a better job of isolating and eliminating its historic past if it had set out specifically to do so.”
Salem is again at a similar cross roads and we need to decide if we will protect the city from urban renewal or if we will hand it over to developers, realtors and bankers who stand to benefit the most from this development.
This does not mean that I don’t support affordable housing. As a musician who is married to another musician, we thought that we might never be able to afford a home of our own when we rented our first apartment in the Point. A first time homeowner program helped us to purchase a fixer upper near Collins Cove which we renovated over ten years. So, I absolutely support affordable housing initiatives for all Salem residents, longtime or new, such as an inclusionary development ordinance, limits on short-term rentals, tax incentives for owner-occupied rental units, abatements for home improvements, and first-time homeowner programs.
How do you see Salem impacted by the climate crisis and what new initiatives would you take to lead Salem's resiliency efforts?
As a seaside community, Salem will be on the first line of cities impacted by climate change. In regards to development, we have at least two projects that are planned for flood zones. Those should not be built. Things we can do immediately: Insist on quality construction that will last a lifetime like many of our centuries-old houses. Preserve these old houses and reuse the house parts that have been here for centuries. Uncover street cobbles and bricks which are water permeable. Preserve and maintain our parks, green spaces and trees that bolster our green canopy, one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Connect existing off road bike paths to schools, parks and surrounding communities creating safe routes for all ages. Push for investment in public transportation. Plan schools, grocery stores, retail shops within walking distance that serve neighborhoods. And with such a large restaurant culture here in Salem, we might also initiate a program that reduces food waste.
Please outline some ideas you have that can enhance civic engagement at the city level.
Most of the volunteer work I have focused on has been civic engagement projects. These projects connect people to their environment, Salem’s history and to each other: Salem Community Gardens, the Plummer Home Garden Project, Derby Square Flea Market, Leslie’s Retreat Reenactment and the new Salem High School PTO.
Right now, we have a divided population by age and by varied media usage. Older people use newspaper, television and radio; while younger people use social media applications like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. This creates silos of information and opinions, and it limits broad understanding of local issues. It’s time for Salem to rebuild its sense of community by making efforts to bring people together. This could be as simple as a publicity campaign encouraging neighbors to reach out to their neighbors. Or perhaps this could be a series of coffee house meet ups where people can talk about single issues. We all want the same things for our families like good schools, safe streets and a healthy environment. But we have different ideas about how to fix things and we can learn a lot from each other.
It is also worth noting that my write in campaign has energized many people who were feeling disenfranchised by the local political scene. It is a great lesson in civic engagement for my children, their friends and for people who might feel reluctant to use their civic voice.
More information can be found at: www.staciakraft.com