1. What is the most important issue affecting your district in particular? How would you fix it?
Covid19 is the big issue. I cannot fix it, but we all must do our part. We must continue to act with common cause, complying with CDC and health department directives. I emphasize support for folks working on a vaccine and testing, 1st responders, and other essential workers. The epidemiological models clearly suggest we suppress the transmission with cooperative behavior by everyone. Our community risks far more morbidity, with catastrophic loss of life globally. For now, we should be cautious about risking infection, and look after our more vulnerable citizens. Newark government will react to infection rates and support coordinated efforts to test for and trace infections. I will help by sending communication and leading civic activity.
2. The effects of the pandemic have left the city’s financial stability in question. How can the city take steps to shore up its finances? If necessary, how would you approach a decision between cutting services or raising taxes?
Among many challenges, the city unexpectedly lost a large amount of revenue from reduced utility use. (They’re 75% of total revenue, according to the May 7th memo). The city has a responsibility to maintain baseline services. Our community will need to modernize parts of institutions. I support Jen Wallace’s recent initiative to examine priorities in public safety. I will try to ensure all future initiatives are cost-effective, minimize regulation, and enhance the quality of life for residents. I will also help coordinate efforts on Covid19 response with businesses and the university. The city must strike a reasonable balance between taxes and city services.
3. How should the city approach development in a way that balances the growing population of students with the needs of residents?
The city has commissions that help set rules for building development, rental housing, and the like. Recently, the university has reduced housing so the students must rent more rooms in outlying suburbs. I will help coordinate municipal efforts to control congestion, mitigate conflicts, and will continue to balance the needs of all residents. I have talked with the University’s liaison, and we will strengthen and diversify our community. I will fight indiscriminate paving open-space or building structures that do not fit the character of the neighborhoods.
4. What specific steps should council take to improve the city’s relationship with UD?
The university is a big employer and a critical partner within the community. I hear dogma that the university runs roughshod over the city. I became involved in the city government during the Star campus power-plant fiasco. Since 2014, university collaboration has improved, and I do not subscribe to the simplistic view. The relationship has natural tension but is also a very complicated, synergistic interaction. The university and city have made good-faith efforts to avoid conflict and leverage common purpose.
5. What qualities or skills set you apart from the other candidate?
I don’t know my opponent. I will use this question to highlight what I could bring to the council. I’m a biologist and computer engineer. I have managed people, my lab’s funding, and fairly complex sets of research projects. I aspire to lead a virtuous life and will follow the oath of office. I don’t have a budget, staff or lawyers. I don’t have connections to commercial interests that may become a conflict for my work on the council. I continue to ask folks about issues of their concern and discuss ideas that other cities are pursuing. I’m familiar with the epidemiological issues of Covid19 from my scientific work on invasive species and biological control. I’m committed to following evidence, so I’ll also be flexible and employ my best judgment in council decisions.
6. Name one specific piece of legislation you would like to see council pass within the first three months of your term.
In response to police killings, a revision in the police modeled on the New York legislation: No chokeholds, violence de-escalation training, use of a database for misconduct, and modification of “qualified” immunity.