Maplewood Ward 3 residents will vote on August 8 to fill the vacant city council seat for their ward. Candidate Kristen Spencer has been talking to residents and sent some thoughts to 40 South for publication.
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 like our green aspect.”
“I wish it was easier to get solar panels.”
Maplewood already demonstrates a strong commitment toward sustainability through initiatives such as the Green Dining Alliance, multi-stream recycling, and the Sustainability Commission. Maplewood can have a larger impact toward sustainability by:
- Encouraging new buildings to be LEED certified
- Setting up composting sites in parks and using native plants in landscaping
- Establishing an incentive grant program for homeowners and businesses to install solar panels
- Continuing to use LED street lights and utilizing lamp designs that curb light pollution
“I love our diversity!”
“It seems like you’re only welcome here if you look and act a certain way.”
I recognize the direct impact that racial injustice and socioeconomic status has on a community. Racism exists. The best thing to do is to listen to the community and create opportunities for safe dialogue. What have residents experienced? What do they think can improve our city? How have residents been treated? I have white privilege, and I acknowledge that. I would use my social work perspective to look at policies and decisions through a racial equity lens. We can:
- Ensure that minorities have a voice by encouraging minority participation in projects and committees
- Use the findings from The Ferguson Commission and apply them to Maplewood
- Ask how policies directly affect marginalized communities
- Ask for feedback from the community
“I’ve lived in this house over 40 years. Now I’m getting older, and it’s hard to pay my property tax.”
I strongly believe that there needs to be a place in Maplewood for everyone from children to seniors. As a geriatric social worker, I am passionate about Maplewood becoming a community where seniors can age in place. We may not be able to erect an independent or assisted living facility within Maplewood due to space limitations, but we can focus on connecting older adults to resources that enable them to successfully remain in their homes for a longer period of time.
For example, we can spread the word about and tap into programs that already exist such as the Missouri Property Tax Credit and agencies that assist with providing durable medical equipment and wheelchair ramps.
“I hate all of the big chains on the corner of Manchester and Big Bend.”
“We need to keep our downtown quaint and vibrant.”
My number one concern is the interest of Maplewood residents and not big businesses. When making my decisions, I will put their needs and interests first. I understand the importance of having businesses come in to Maplewood and know that these big businesses have been a contributing factor in turning our city around financially. Having some of the bigger businesses in town has anchored Maplewood and brought in needed revenue. Since we are currently in a good place financially, we can afford to demand more of future big businesses.
I want to make sure that the businesses reflect the spirit of Maplewood. For example, can the big business create a building that can be incorporated into the surrounding architecture of Maplewood (even if this means that the business would have to pay more money for a more attractive storefront)? When adding new businesses, I would want to know:
- How does this big business impact existing local Maplewood businesses?
- Will this big business be complementary to other businesses?
- How will this big business give back to our community?
“Our schools are incredible!”
“I love having chickens!”
I could not agree more with both statements.
I will continue to walk around our beautiful city and am looking forward to
meeting with as many more residents as possible. For more information, please visit: facebook.com/KristenSpencerForMaplewood.
Kristen Spencer, Ward 3 City Council candidate