Kristen Spencer, Maplewood Ward 3 city council candidate, in the August 8 special election, says she has been walking Maplewood and talking to the residents. She shares some thoughts here.
I have been spending a lot of time getting to know Maplewood residents in depth by asking people what they love most about Maplewood and what they would like to see improved. I want to showcase the praises and concerns that our neighbors have about Maplewood and share how I would address these issues if elected to the council. The quotes below represent sentiments from actual Ward 3 residents.
“I love The Maple Leaf!”
“I don’t think our city council is transparent.”
Like ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ says, “Knowledge is power.” If the council engages the electorate and keeps them informed, residents will feel more involved. Communication is an effective tool to provide knowledge to residents about issues. With this knowledge, people can use their voice by voting in local elections such as this one or serving on boards to shape the future of Maplewood.
Listening to residents has to be a priority.
One way to do this is to survey residents to gauge their three most important issues. Another way to facilitate two-way communication is to establish an opportunity for the mayor and council to meet several times a year with residents in an informal setting. It is not enough to hold meetings that people can attend at city hall. Elected representatives need to go to where the people are. Having meet-and-greets at a park or restaurant can be less intimidating and encourage genuine conversation.
“The nuisance ordinance lawsuit really upset me.”
The impact of this ordinance hurts my heart. I do not think that Maplewood intentionally set out to discriminate against people with the nuisance ordinance. Nor have all of the facts for this case been presented. However, no matter the intent of the ordinance, the public perception and real life situation have shown that this ordinance needs to be updated. This has negatively impacted our neighbors in the community, damaged our reputation as a city, and drawn negative attention nationally. This ordinance as currently written is not who we are. Some suggestions:
- Hold a town hall to specifically discuss the current nuisance ordinance
- Update the Maplewood ordinances to reflect the current needs of our residents in a respectful and considerate manner
- Review other cities’ ordinance policies and look for ones who have incorporated best practices into their policies
- Have a speaker series at the library with topics such a race relations, unconscious bias, privilege, domestic violence, and resources already available in the community
“My rent is increasing.”
Maplewood needs more affordable housing options. Affordable housing can enable people to both live and work in Maplewood. It can promote social, cultural, and economic diversity within Maplewood. This diversity is what makes our city attractive, and we need to continue to create policies that support our diversity. Maplewood has so much going for it as a city that I want to make sure people of all economic levels have the opportunity to live here.
“There needs to be a tunnel going directly from our house to Strange Donuts.”
While I do not have a way to make this feasible, I certainly appreciate the Maplewood spirit of this individual’s comment!
I will share part two of the praises and concerns by Ward 3 residents soon. In the meantime, I will be walking around the city, and I’m looking forward to meeting with as many residents as possible.
Kristen Spencer, Ward 3 City Council Candidate
Also running for the vacant Maplewood Ward 3 seat are Steve Terelmes and Jennifer Schmidt.