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Election 2012: Paulette Carr for Ward 2

Carr faces Jan Adams in the Ward 2 election on Tuesday, April 3.

University City Patch asked each municipal candidate to fill out an election questionnaire based on our questions and . Each candidate was given the same questions.

Here is Paulette Carr, candidate for Ward Two, in her own words. 

Professional Background

  • Worked as both a chemistry teacher and a research scientist at McDonnell Douglas and Medical School. Has been a producing artist for the past 20 years.
  • Exhibited ceramic sculptures in the rotunda of the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. and in Jefferson City for the first Breast Cancer Awareness month in 1993.
  • Designed and fabricated the tiles including a large tile mural at the Churchill Center and School.

Civic Service

  • In 2009 organized and led the effort for the first-ever state audit of University City. The audit has resulted in savings for the City and taxpayers, and provided a roadmap for how the City can improve its operations.
  • Led the effort to oppose a sales tax increase in 2009 and a property tax hike in 2010. Both tax hikes were defeated. It turned out they were not necessary.
  • From 2010 to the present, served on the University City Plan Commission. Have been supportive of quality development in the city as a member of the commission
  • From 2010 to the present, established and runs UCityCitizen.org to better inform citizens and give voice to issues that concern us all.
  • Wrote an article on redistricting of the Wards from 1948 through 2010, and spoke on the 2010-redistricting plan.
  • Attends nearly every City Council meeting and frequently addresses the City Council on issues of interest.
  • Currently serves on the Board of Trustees at the Churchill Center and School.

What do you like about U City?

I like the diversity and cultural richness of the city, and the vitality this provides for city residents. In addition, the unique Loop is a big asset to our city. I like the tradition of open debate in city government, though we have gotten away from that in recent years. The fact that people from so many backgrounds are able to live and work together in one city is something we should be proud of.

If you could change one thing, what would be?

The face of Olive Boulevard. It’s embarrassing to the city to have these big empty lots at both Midland and North & South along Olive. The nearly empty shopping center at McKnight & Olive looks very bad. We need both long-range planning and a vision for responsible and lasting economic development.

Identify the top three challenges U City is facing at this time?

  • Declining revenues due to declining population
  • Weak future economic development planning
  • A government lacking in transparency and accountability, which limits the ability of citizens to engage and have a voice in how our city is managed.

How would you characterize U City’s economic climate and what plans do you have to work on it?

We should continue to support the successes of our roughly 800 U. City businesses, but we also need to develop an aggressive pro-business mission where we seek out and pursue business owners, selling our city as the right spot for their business.

There are some exciting new developments taking place in the Delcrest area and in the Parkview Gardens area, but Olive Boulevard remains the challenge. We should make a serious attempt at the redevelopment on Olive Blvd. by placing city-owned properties on North & South and Olive and Midland and Olive with a commercial real estate firm to see what bids come back and what kind of uses are feasible. Public input should be welcomed.

What is your philosophy on economic development and financial responsibility?

With tough economic times looming ahead we must be concerned with responsible economic development, holding to a policy that is both resident and business friendly. Additionally, with the pooled sales taxes possibly being in jeopardy, we have to bolster our position for local tax revenue growth. We need to develop and enlarge our commercial base so we can afford to maintain and improve our infrastructure and operations without an undue burden on residents. In order to do this our city must develop an aggressive pro-business mission where we seek out and pursue business owners, selling our city as the right spot for their business. This approach makes us not only a desirable city, but also an affordable one – the tax burden on the homeowners can be shared with the taxes generated through commerce. Most important, residents are attracted to neighborhoods that have easy access to healthy and vibrant commercial areas, helping our city attract and retain residents.

What are the three issues of greatest concern to the Ward you seek to represent? How would you address each of these concerns?

1. Responsible Economic Development that is both resident and business friendly. 

  • In order to grow our tax base we must develop an aggressive pro-business mission where we seek out and pursue businesses, selling U. City as the right spot for their business. U. City needs a new Comprehensive City Plan – the last one was completed in 2005. 
  • We need to fully develop Olive Blvd. Properties on North & South and Olive and Midland and Olive should be listed with a commercial real estate firm to bring in bids and discuss with developers about what can be built there. Involve the community.

2. Strong and safe neighborhoods — 

  • Lighted areas are safer areas. We should make certain that all lights are properly repaired and working.
  • The City spent less on public safety in the last fiscal year than in the previous year. Police and fire staff MUST be fully staffed.
  • Vacant & abandoned housing creates unsafe areas and declining neighborhoods. Neighboring cities have plans to fix up these houses and we should consider similar plans.
  • Some neighborhoods experience flooding from the River de Peres and tributaries. As a city we are going to have to address this.

3. Transparent and Open Government

  • Strengthen communication with residents.
  • Ensure that we have a true balanced budget, not one that is balanced by borrowing from reserves.
  • Have the Council address the issue of night lighting at the Ruth Park Driving Range. Since the lights have been turned off by the City Manager, the city has lost money, broken contracts and compromised the good will of neighboring communities.
  • Work to establish an Accountability Portal so citizens can see on the Internet exactly how tax dollars are being spent
  • Work to ensure an open, honest, ethical government that complies with the City Charter and Sunshine Laws.

How would you increase citizen participation in government and volunteer boards?

It is especially important that we return to an open, honest and ethical government that complies with our City Charter and Sunshine Laws so that all residents can reestablish their trust in our government. To do this we must strengthen our communication with residents, making sure that public information is easily available and accurate. I will work toward the development of an Accountability Portal so that all citizens can see how their tax dollars are being spent.

I would like to see a broad spectrum of our citizens on commissions and committees so that we get a better representation of our diverse city. Citizens must have confidence their service will be sought after and accepted regardless of whether they are in agreement with the present administration. Recent and previous problems with various members of Council being unwilling to consider opposing voices has created a perception of favoritism/cronyism among those who are not connected to the Council majority or City Manager. While some boards and commissions have clarity of mission, others do not.

A change in culture is needed: the simple acts of being welcoming, gracious and grateful are needed. The greatest diversity is the diversity of opinion. Citizens will want to participate – no matter how difficult the task -where the environment is welcoming and comfortable and it is safe to present an unpopular opinion.

What do you want the voters in your ward to know about you?

I am passionate about working as an independent council member with my neighbors and fellow council members to continue the University City traditions and see us into the future. I will make sure we have an open government, professional discussions on the council with respect for one another, and a balanced budget that includes a strong economic plan.

No more abuse March 23, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Paulette, How do you feel against violence against women by City employee's. Would you offer a voice to female citizens who feel intimidated by employee's who have a history of domestic violence or just silence them?

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