My high school sweetheart, Micah and I are raising two young children in Salem. We both grew up in the same small town and attended the University of Maine.
Following the events of September 11, I joined the Army. After graduating from college and receiving my commission, I spent the next three years serving as a Platoon Leader and Executive Officer, where I received decorations that included the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon. After the Army, Micah and I moved back to New England, where I earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Massachusetts.
Today I am a Commercial Executive with Microsoft and serve on the Salem Beautification Committee and the Punto Urban Art Museum Advisory Board. I am also a photographer (@hellosalem), the founder of @Igerssalem, and a member of Historic Salem. I believe that Salem is at a crossroads, we need hopeful voices and principled leaders to keep our city affordable, inclusive and vibrant.
Why are you running for Councilor and what particular skills can you bring to the position?
More people are moving to Salem than we’ve seen in over a century. We’ve seen a growing creative economy, exciting and innovative new businesses and reinvestment in our historic buildings. While life in Salem can be far from perfect, we’ve re-branded ourselves to the world as an inclusive place where people want to live, visit and invest in. However, with change comes uncertainty, and questions about how to deal with a growing and urgent affordability crisis. I am running as someone who has led and mentored hundreds of women and men over the last decade and I can tell you that times of change can be stressful and require strong leadership.
Leaders who have enough confidence in their own values to have empathy for those who disagree with them. Leaders who can bring everyone to the table and harness this change to ensure that it works for everyone.
What are some of your proposed solutions towards resolving the housing crisis in Salem?
From my Letter to the Editor in July:
“As an Army platoon leader, I learned that every decision I made brought with it real and imagined side effects. But leadership is about so much more than allowing worst-case outcomes to paralyze your ability to make decisions. Good leaders seize opportunities and take action to help those who depend on them. Good leaders also recognize that often the best way to solve big problems is by acting, getting little wins and repeating. This is the leadership that we need from our city council when it comes to addressing the affordability crisis in Salem.”
My experience as a leader has taught me that the only way to solve big problems is by getting small wins and repeating. This is how we’ll begin to address the affordability crisis. Updating the zoning code would help struggling homeowners earn extra income while creating additional housing. We can also make development work for everyone by mandating affordability and leveraging our existing historic buildings to create needed homes. These are all small steps that will make a big difference for individuals and families impacted by this crisis.
How do you see Salem impacted by the climate crisis and what new initiatives would you take to lead Salem's resiliency efforts?
Climate change will not only impact our planet but put several of Salem’s neighborhoods acutely at risk. As a first step we must act on the recommendations made in Salem’s Climate Change Vulnerability Report in 2014. These include repairing and raising sea walls where appropriate, giving DPW the ability to quickly deploy temporary floodwalls where needed, and installing more permeable non-erodible asphalt in select locations.
We also need to ensure that we are doing our part as a city. We must continue to encourage alternative forms of transportation through shuttle services, cycling and walkability. Finally, we need to support the adaptive reuse of our historic buildings, recognizing that these structures are unique, built with durable materials and are one of Salem’s most important green natural resources.
Please outline some ideas you have that can enhance civic engagement at the city level.
Highly charged divisive rhetoric can frustrate people and tunes them out of the political process, reducing civic engagement at an individual level. As a leader I’ve recognized that people need to ensure their voices are heard if you’re going to ask them to be a part of the process. I’m committed to doing that by meeting people where they are. This includes block parties, 5Ks, neighborhood meetings, coffee shops, playgrounds, social media and more. As a Councillor it will be my responsibility to engage with people who may disagree and seek common ground. The tone is set at the top and if elected I will use my voice to be inclusive and encourage citizen engagement.