Friday, March 18, 2016

Guest Post - Cara Kaser, State of the City

By Cara Kaser, Salem City Council Candidate, Ward 1 

Salem is at a crossroads, and its people have a choice to make: continue with a business­ as­-usual, small-­town attitude, or fully embrace its unique identity as the major metropolitan area of the mid-­Willamette Valley.   
Over the last few years, we’ve seen significant, positive changes in Salem such as the opening of the Union Street Bridge, the rehabilitation of the Roth ­McGilchrist building and Grand Theatre downtown, redevelopment in north downtown along Broadway, and new, thriving local businesses, such as Coin Jam, Rafn’s, Archive, and Barrel & Keg, just to name a few. Over this same time period, our city has ­­ and continues ­­ to face major problems such as poor communication between the City and its people, falling revenue and budget cuts, a car­first mentality that contributes to accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists, homelessness, and an underfunded public transit system, among others.   
For some time now, Salem has been just on the cusp of finally realizing that it’s no longer a “small town” and to finally accept that it must approach its challenges and opportunities as a mature city. Salem is not quite there yet, but as the city and its people continue to look for solutions to its problems, we will realize more and more that some of our solutions we devised 50, 30, 10, or even 5 years ago are insufficient for what our city and its people need today.  
As a City Councilor, I will work to tackle our city’s problems with the mindset that our city is a large, growing urban center. This means working to better connect people with our city government by making sure that they are included and invited to participate in the decision-­making process of the City and feel confident that the City is transparent in making those decisions. It means working to make Salem more livable for everyone by focusing on pedestrian and bicycle improvements, investing in our public transit system, and working to provide more green spaces such as parks and gardens in our neighborhoods. And it means working to strengthen our downtown, the heart of our city, by growing our small businesses, improving our downtown buildings and infrastructure, and encouraging property owners, business owners, and our community leaders to “Think Downtown First” when looking for development areas.  
I’m looking forward to seeing how our city will grow and find creative solutions to our problems over the next 5 years ­­ let alone the next 50! ­­ and I would be proud to be part of these efforts by serving as your City Councilor.  

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