TraverseCONNECT PAC – 2019 City Commission Race
1) Briefly describe the qualifications or experiences that make you the best candidate for this office.
I am a community advocate who is passionate about gender equality, smart growth and issues surrounding housing
and homelessness. I currently serve as Chair of Woman2Woman TC, and sit on the boards of the Traverse City
Human Rights Commission and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.
As Fundraising Chair of Safe Harbor, I helped lead a successful $1.85 million capital campaign for a seasonal
emergency shelter facility in Traverse City. I have also served as Vice-Chair on the founding board of the Great
Lakes Children's Museum, Chair of the Traverse City Public Art Commission and Membership Co-Chair of Impact
I have written numerous opinion columns for the Northern Express and blogs for A Strong Personality. Topics have
covered city planning, civic engagement, traffic and transportation, homelessness, affordable housing and land use.
I recently received national recognition as one of NY Now's "10 Retailers to Watch." In addition, I've been honored as
a Traverse City Business News "50 Leading Women of Business," and a 2018 Athena nominee. I graduated with a
B.A. in English and Art from the University of Iowa and have owned and operated Sanctuary Handcrafted Goods in
the Village at Grand Traverse Commons since 2004.
2) Have you ever owned or operated a business?
3) How do you view your role as a City Commissioner?
My goal is simple: "Listen. Learn. Lead." Commissioners need to research issues and proposals in front of them,
consult with other community leaders, experts and stakeholders; then ultimately make informed decisions.
4) Will you work to increase collaborative efforts with other local units of government in the county?
This is a big one for me. I think the City needs to take more of a regional approach to issues of housing,
transportation and infrastructure. As the county seat and hub, our small city shoulders a lot of these burdens and
we need to coordinate better with the townships to find solutions.
5) What are your three goals for the City of Traverse City?
1) Work toward solutions to our housing crisis
2) Address aging infrastructure
3) Provide opportunities for young adults and families
6) Would you support a local government incentive option for workforce housing and/or childcare?
1) Utilize available tools to allow the types of housing and childcare that are needed and that are more affordable 2)
Educate the public on the benefits of increased housing and childcare options; and 3) Support zoning, taxing and
funding criteria that encourage a variety of housing and childcare options. I think we need to be creative about
finding ways to incentivize development -- i.e. donating of city property for affordable housing, building upon the
framework of the Land Bank Authority, PILOT, and supporting MSHDA applications with better walkability,
transportation, and infrastructure scores. Other communities like Kalamazoo have successfully taxed themselves to
provide housing -- where there's a will there's a way.
7) Will you work with us on solutions to improve the City’s interaction with commercial property owners, including
building codes, inspection process, and assessments?
I don't know what you mean by "work with us," but would gladly consider any proposal brought in front of the city
commission to improve the building code, inspection or assessment process. I don't think it is proper for individual
commissioners to work behind the scenes in this way -- my hope is that the chamber would work with staff and
commercial property owners to bring potential solutions forward to us.
8) Do you support the Brownfield Redevelopment program?
I have seen first-hand the kind of economic benefits that can be created by utilizing the Brownfield Redevelopment
program. The Minervini Group was able to take an abandoned, blighted property that paid virtually no taxes, and
redevelop it into The Village at Grand Traverse Commons with hundreds of housing units (including 68 affordable),
hundreds of new jobs, and new recreational, cultural, and business incubation opportunities. Most importantly, the
City and County benefits from greater density and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax-generation every
year. This project is a poster child for Brownfield, in my opinion.
9) Do you support using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) as an economic and community infrastructure tool?
I like TIF for two reasons: 1) It is a public-private collaboration where infrastructure investment is made with the
property tax increases of those who are actually developing and improving the district; 2) Oftentimes, these
infrastructure improvements would have come from the general fund anyway -- and without the $1.5 million annual
cost-share from the County and other municipalities.
10) Do you support the city committing resources to TraverseCONNECT to support economic development efforts,
including supporting business growth, investment, and to attract and retain talent?
In the absence of our own department, the City should double-down on its economic development efforts and
partnerships with TraverseCONNECT and the Grand Traverse County Economic Development Organization. We need
to create retention strategies for local companies, including efforts to develop talent and attract skilled workers with
good-paying year-round jobs.
11) How will you support infrastructure investment in the city?
I will always find a way to say "yes" to infrastructure investment in the city, as long as the costs are justified.
12) In the recent past, a new tree ordinance and liquor license fee suddenly popped up and became lighting rod issues
for business owners and commercial property owners. What do you think is the most impactful way to engage the
business and commercial community before changes that impact these constituents reach a critical decision point?
I think we can do a better job of reaching residents, business owners and other stakeholders during the planning
process. These individuals should not only be informed of policies that may affect them well in advance, they should
also be engaged in finding solutions from the beginning.
13) Would you accept a contribution from the TraverseCONNECT PAC?
Traverse Area Association of Realtors/ PAC Questionnaire -- 2019 City Commission Race
Current Position/ Occupation: Owner of Sanctuary Handcrafted Goods
List previous campaigns, elected office(s), boards, commissions, etc.
This is my first run for public office, but I have served on many boards. Currently, I serve on the Traverse City Human Rights Commission where I have held the position of Vice-Chair. I am also the Development Chair for Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities and the Chair of Woman2Woman TC, a grassroots group working to improve women's representation on elected
and appointed boards.
In the past, I have served as Chair of the Traverse City Arts Commission, Fundraising Chair/ Secretary of Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse, Inc., and Member of the Continuum of Care. I was also on the founding boards of both the Great Lakes Children's Museum and Impact 100 TC, a local women's philanthropic organization.
Why are you running for office?
I'm running for office because I care about Traverse City and I want to protect, nurture and grow it in a way that honors our history and small-town character while providing for the quality of life and opportunities that we need to thrive. I believe that as a regional hub and vacation destination, Traverse City needs to balance the potential economic and tax-generating benefits of development with our desire to maintain the qualities that make us special. These times call for strong, civil leadership that will bring us together to meet these challenges and to achieve common goals.
If elected, I will focus on these important areas:
• Maintaining our downtown and historic neighborhoods
• Collaborating on solutions to the housing crisis
• Preserving and strengthening our fresh water resources
• Addressing aging infrastructure
• Providing opportunities for young adults and families
• Promoting civility and public engagement
I believe that I can bring thoughtful leadership to the city commission, and that I am capable of
managing the diverse needs of area residents, non-profits and employers.
Briefly describe your campaign strategy.
I am spending my time and resources on reaching the most likely voters – primarily residents who are 50 years and older. I have also tailored my campaign messaging to appeal to this demographic. You can expect me to be canvassing the neighborhoods, attending house parties in all of our districts, sending postcard mailings and reaching voters through social media and digital marketing.
As we get closer to the election, I will be focusing on the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort with advertising in the Ticker and the Record-Eagle. Of course, I will also be posting campaign signs at homes and businesses throughout the City.
Why to you think you will win?
I think I will win because I am the better choice. I have a proven record of business ownership, advocacy and service in Traverse City. But more important than my experience as a leader, I'm proud of being a doer who is dedicated to making positive change in our community. I have a solid plan and base of support, as well as name recognition which is very important in
these kinds of elections.
How many votes will you need to win?
This is a tough question to answer because voter turn-out is likely to be very low. Other than the City Commission election, there is only one proposal on the ballot and it is non-controversial. The short answer is that I need just one more vote than my opponent. Traditionally, in a two-person race the winner needs at least 1,800 votes.
Are REALTORS® actively helping with your campaign?
My mother-in-law, Marsha Minervini, is a supporter. TAAR Board Member Sakura Takano is also a friend and supporter.
What are your thoughts on Traverse City municipal budget? Budget cuts, increases, or funding initiatives you support? Service you believe could be delivered more efficiently?
I was surprised to learn that the City's general fund raises and spends only $18,000,000 per year. To provide a little context, NMC's annual budget is around $46,000,000. Traverse City does provide a lot of value for these dollars and I don't see a lot of waste.
I would like to see the City re-hire an arborist to help cultivate, manage and study our trees which are critical for storing carbon, stabilizing the soil and giving shelter to local wildlife. I would also like to see the City contract with a part-time Public Information Officer whose responsibilities would including collecting and compiling data, and distributing it to local residents
and media. They would also be charged with publicizing upcoming meetings, encouraging public participation, and broadcasting outcomes. I think we can avoid unnecessary conflict by keeping our residents, non-profits and businesses informed of important issues and proposals well in advance. In my opinion, the City needs to create a solid plan for infrastructure repair and replacement, along with a funding mechanism to pay for it.
Additionally, the City should double-down on its economic development efforts and partnerships with TraverseCONNECT and the Grand Traverse County Economic Development Organization. We need to create retention strategies for local companies, including efforts to develop talent and attract skilled workers with good-paying year-round jobs.
The shortage of housing inventory is a big topic among our TAAR membership and the community at large across our area. Does local government have a role to play in this realm? If so, what do you think a local government can reasonably do to address housing supply concerns?
This has been a special area of interest for me, as I have spent much of the past decade volunteering with non-profit organizations like Safe Harbor and Northwest Michigan Coalition To End Homelessness. The answer to this problem is simple... we need to provide more housing.
The shortage of housing in Traverse City is taking a toll on both residents and businesses. Many struggle to make ends meet while living in housing that’s too expensive for their budgets. Young families are leaving the city to find lower costs of living, and all too often, businesses that have opportunities to grow are unable to hire new employees because they can’t find the home they need at a price they can afford.
I support partnering with other governmental agencies and non-profit organizations in our region like Housing North to: 1) Utilize available tools to allow the types of housing that are needed and that are more affordable; 2) Educate the public on the benefits of increased housing options; and 3) Support taxing and funding criteria that encourage a variety of housing options.
We should use every tool in our box when it comes to attracting developers to build more housing. I would like to see the City do an audit of our existing property to see if there are opportunities for housing development, similar to what we did with the city property adjacent to Safe Harbor's shelter. We also need to continue offering Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for
affordable housing projects and support Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) housing applications by providing the necessary infrastructure (sewer, streets, sidewalks, bus stops, etc.) that helps them score well.
I know the DDA is considering using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds for workforce housing downtown, and I would support that as well.
Land use continues to be a highly debated issue, including those elements centered around planning and zoning. Are there specific policies or zoning restrictions you support or oppose?
The recent City charter amendment requiring a public vote for any development over 60 feet demonstrates our community's desire to maintain its “small town character.” Of course, this creates challenges for attracting developers capable of building affordable housing because of land costs and other factors. Though I opposed Prop 3, I do honor the will of the voters. It just means that we have to be more creative in our approach – possibly loosening restrictions on duplexes or quadplexes in residential neighborhoods, or encouraging home sharing and long-term rentals in accessory dwelling units (ADUs). I am currently against zoning changes in our historic districts, though I'm open to any proposal that the majority of their residents support.
Density is key, and I will continue to support planning and zoning that supports it for three reasons: 1) It's more cost effective and efficient with infrastructure; 2) It promotes walkability and better transportation options; and 3) It helps create a more vital and accessible community. I subscribe to the basic principles of New Urbanism for the same reasons.
Should local governments use zoning to prohibit rental of a residential property on a short-term basis?
According to Housing North, over the past decade roughly fifteen percent of our regional housing stock has been converted to vacation or short-term rentals with one in five homes sold being purchased by speculators or second home owners. Most opportunities for housing growth are in our commercial districts, yet these are being gobbled up by short-term rentals as well.
On one side is the real estate industry, which supports giving homeowners expansive leeway to rent out their properties and views local restrictions as potentially dampening sales in Michigan’s second home market. On the other side are municipal government leaders, who want to maintain control over zoning practices to preserve neighborhood stability. I hope that we can find some balance and commonality in terms of defining just what it means to live in a “neighborhood.”
I support the current tourist home zoning and owner-occupied short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, but I have fears that unhosted rentals will price families out and essentially turn R1, R2, and R3 districts into commercial zones. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also have concerns that unoccupied second and third homes are creating “ghost blocks” in our residential neighborhoods. As a strong proponent of property rights, I don't think the local government should make policies to prevent this, but I want TAAR to be aware of my worries.
Should the government be allowed to require a property owner to bring something up to code as a condition of property transfer?
This is a tricky question. As a member of the Traverse City Human Rights Commission, I have worked to promote Universal Design Principles – a framework for the design of living and working spaces and products benefiting the widest possible range of people in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. I support the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accessibility in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
So, do I think bringing something up to code should be necessary for a private home? Not unless it prevents potential injury or harm. But I do think public or commercial properties should be brought up to code, especially as it pertains to accessibility – transfers are often our only chance to make these buildings and properties more accommodating.
How would you use TAAR as a resource?
Data on home sales and ownership could be useful. I would love to see TAAR do more lobbying with the State of Michigan and provide a leadership role in addressing our regional housing crisis.
LWVGTA Voter Guide
Owner of Sanctuary Handcrafted Goods
B.A. Art & English from the University of Iowa, 1991
Qualifications & Experience
I currently serve as Chair of Woman2Woman TC, Member and former Vice-Chair of the Traverse City Human Rights Commission, and Development Chair of Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. I have also served as Vice-Chair of the Great Lakes Children's Museum, Fundraising Chair/ Secretary of Safe Harbor, Chair of the Traverse City Public Art Commission, and Membership Co-Chair of Impact 100.
Describe your background, experience and qualifications for this office and the reasons you are running for it.
Answer I have a long history as a community builder who is passionate about gender equality, smart growth and issues surrounding housing and homelessness. My work and advocacy in these areas have led me to public service and the desire to help shape the future of Traverse City as a city commissioner.
Over the past five years, I have written numerous opinion columns for the Northern Express and blogs for A Strong Personality with topics covering city planning, civic engagement, traffic and transportation, homelessness, affordable housing and land use. For nearly 15 years, I have been a business owner and employer, and I recently received national recognition as one of NY Now's "10 Retailers to Watch."
In addition, I've been honored as a Traverse City Business News "50 Leading Women of Business," and a 2018 Athena nominee. I believe that my perspective as an advocate, community builder and business person make me an ideal candidate for the city commission. But more important than my experience as a leader, I'm proud of being a doer who is dedicated to making positive change in our community.
What are the top 2 (or 3) priority issues that this office should address and what actions would you take regarding each of them?
Working toward solutions to our housing crisis: I support partnering with Housing North and other regional governmental agencies and non-profit organizations to utilize tools that will allow for the different types of housing that are needed (and that are more affordable). We also need to educate the public on the benefits of increased housing options and implement taxing and funding criteria that support them.
Preserving and strengthening our fresh water resources: I will continue to support the City's partnership with The Watershed Center and other area environmental non-profits to manage and reduce harmful runoff from reaching the Bay. I also support responsible stewardship of our water resources, aquatic invasive species prevention, and management for species that have already arrived in our watershed.
Promoting civility and better public engagement: I would like to see the City engage a Public Information Officer who is responsible for collecting and compiling data and distributing it to local residents and the media. I think it's possible to avoid unnecessary conflict by publicizing upcoming meetings well in advance, encouraging better public participation, and regularly broadcasting outcomes.
Woman2Woman Policy Positions
I believe that we are at a critical crossroads – within the next decade, either inaction will set in motion a global climate crisis that will lead to our devastation, or our nation and the world will respond decisively to build a modern, green and just economic future.
We need to “think global and act local.” Traverse City's 2040 renewable energy goal is just the start – transitioning from our over reliance on dirty sources of energy in favor of cleaner sources, like wind and solar, will help improve our health and save lives. It will protect our beautiful natural resources for future generations and reduce the pollution
impacting our climate.
I believe that progressivism at its core is about civil rights. It represents a government and society wither everyone gets an equal shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. I'm proud to be a member of the Traverse City Human Rights Commission and support their mission of ensuring human dignity through advocacy, education, negotiation and information ensuring understanding and respect among all.
Although enforcement of the EPA as well as other civil rights laws has helped to narrow the wage gap, significant disparities remain and need to be addressed. Today, women typically make only 83 cents for every dollar made by men. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 39 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2018.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is a necessary supplement for the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and has been introduced and blocked twelve times – I'm hoping for lucky #13. In the meantime, employers need to implement pay transparency and eliminate negotiation – two main solutions to gender pay inequity.
Partisan gerrymandering can injure voters’ First Amendment rights by subjecting members of the disfavored party to discrimination because of their viewpoints. It deprives citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process.
Michigan has been widely regarded as having some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country and I am disgusted that the Supreme Court would rule against something as fundamental to our democracy as fair elections. I will continue to support
Voters Not Politicians and the basic principle that ultimate power resides in the people.
I believe that sexual health is an intrinsic element of women's health and should be based on a positive, equitable, and respectful approach to sexuality, relationships, and reproduction – free of coercion, fear, discrimination, stigma, shame, and violence.
Decades of research show that abortion is a common and safe medical procedure that one in three US women obtain. And evidence proves that laws restricting access to abortion care do not improve its safety and actually put women’s health at risk. I'm concerned that our reproductive rights are being eroded, and as a long-time supporter of Planned Parenthood, I will continue working to restore and improve upon them.
Public schools are far from perfect, but even given their deficiencies, they have benefits that far outweigh those of privatized schools. When considering things like finances, accountability, self-governance, social justice and life-long learning, public
schools are a much better choice. I also believe they attract superior teachers, they have greater diversity, and they create a solid sense of community.
Understanding that some families desire options, I do support charter schools as long as they are properly evaluated and held to the same standards as traditional public schools.
Women Running for Office
This has been a key issue for me, and one that originally brought me to Woman2Woman TC. Now, more than ever, we need equal representation -- not just to more accurately reflect the electorate, but also to encourage better performance in our
I believe that if more women campaign, other women will react less negatively to campaigning, and they may be more likely to consider themselves qualified. After years of promoting this idea and encouraging other women to run, I've decided to “walk the walk” with my own candidacy.
Gun violence has been at epidemic proportions for decades in the United States. In 2013, there were 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries and 33,636 deaths due to "injury by firearms." I support March for Our Lives and their proposal for an Australia-style
mandatory government buyback and destruction of assault weapons. I also support proposed regulations that would dramatically raise the bar for who is allowed to purchase a gun, putting the U.S. law much more in line with European countries.
Finally, I want our country to revisit the 2009 supreme court decision, District of Columbia v Heller, which enshrined a pro-gun interpretation of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms.
Norte "Get to Know the Candidates" Survey
To start, please describe the most memorable walk, or most memorable bike ride, that you have experienced. This could have been anywhere in the world, for any duration, for any purpose. What made it so memorable?
I had the opportunity to visit Venice in the mid 1990s and still consider it to be my “happy place.” Though it was a literal maze of narrow streets, they were all clean, walkable and easy to navigate. I loved exploring the shops, restaurants, museums and cafes all filled with happy people. It was the kind of place where I felt safe and welcome — pedestrians all greeted me with a nod, smile and eye contact!
Please define effective leadership in the local context. Provide in your answer, a specific example of leadership that has impacted your willingness to serve as an elected official.
Effective local leadership is about research, engagement and collaboration. I have a long history of volunteer leadership, but the development of a permanent seasonal emergency shelter for Safe Harbor stands out in this case. Here, being a leader required intensive study, public engagement and education, effective lobbying and inter-agency collaboration, plus the ability to take on a tough project and see it through to completion.
How is a Traverse City of the future, one that is stronger, better connected, and more walk and bike-friendly different than the Traverse City of today?
I applaud the progress that has already been made in terms of pedestrian and cycle infrastructure, but we have a long way to go. I look forward to the completion of the Boardman Lake Trail, more complete sidewalks and streets and better connectivity and accessibility for those with disabilities. Sidewalk clearing in the wintertime is another area I’d like to see the City and business community focus on.
The City of Traverse City will soon complete a dramatic reconstruction of 8th Street from Boardman Ave. to Woodmere Ave. What is your first response to the new 8th Street? What do you hope that the city can learn from the process and the design?
I think the City has learned that it’s all about public engagement. I’m proud to have participated in a process where the community came together to craft the plan, and that we were able to compromise and accommodate the needs of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. It’s so cool to see people walking, cycling and using 8th Street in a way that never happened prior to the reconstruction! And I look forward to seeing the economic benefits as well.
Finally, what are you for?
I’m running because I have a desire to protect, nurture and grow Traverse City in a way that honors our history and small-town character while providing the quality of life and opportunities that we need to thrive. Our leaders need to balance the potential economic and tax-generating benefits of development with the desire to maintain the qualities that make us special — I will work hard to meet these challenges and to achieve these goals.