Read Melissa's answers to the Alexandria Times Candidate Questionnaire
Alexandria Times Candidate Questionnaire
Name: Melissa Feld
How long you've lived in Alexandria: Since 2001
Day job: Principal at PowerBase Associates
In one sentence, identify what separates you from other Democrats running for Alexandria City Council.
Former congressional staffer, small businesswoman, immigrant and mother of ACPS children, I bring diverse personal and professional experiences to a City Council needing new voices.
Rank and list your top 5 priorities as a member of the city council. Please be specific.
1. Public Safety: transportation, fire, police, health
2. Strong Schools
3. Economic Sustainability by encouraging job growth; especially with small businesses
4. Environmental Stewardship
5. Smart Growth
During campaigns, candidates speak freely about what they will do while in office. But once there, budget constraints offer a different reality of what's possible. In 200 words, identify at least one way you would fund the above priorities. If you would cut funding elsewhere, be specific where. If you would raise revenue, be specific on how. If you would streamline government programs, be specific in identifying them and how you would streamline them.
There is an imbalance in our property taxes. It is from a gap in the level of residential property revenue to commercial revenue. Over time we have developed the residential side of our revenue stream and now we need to develop the commercial stream. Not that we tax them dramatically different, it is that there is less commercial property generating tax revenue. Ideally it should be more of an even ratio for taxes creting a slight cushion for economic downturns.
To solve this, we need to grow the commercial base of our revenue source for the city. One step we can take is to cultivate the commercial side through business development. We should support the recommendations of the Economic Sustainability Work Group and implement the Strategic Plan. Working with organizations that exist in the city we can nurture public/private partnerships between small business and other organizations to achieve success. Additionally, if we promote our local economy with sensible development we will have an increase in revenue from sales and meal taxes. We must recognize and cultivate that Alexandria is a destination for tourism, shopping, dining, and doing business so we will be able to achieve a sustainable city.
Offer specific solutions to improve academic achievement at Alexandria City Public Schools in 50 words or less.
There are no easy answers. City Council must be committed to preparing and supporting low income citizens as they enter kindergarten and beyond. Recent scholarship suggests achievement gaps between rich and poor are widening. Council must support organizations like Healthy Families and develop greater nutritional standards to improve our schools.
Explain your stance on the availability of affordable housing in Alexandria in 50 words or less.
Affordable housing is imperative for diversity. To ensure affordable housing is available as part of our future, I will work with ARHA to ensure we follow their recommendations. It is in the best interest of our city and citizens to find solutions to keep Alexandria a gorgeous mosaic.
Explain your stance on the draft waterfront redevelopment plan in 35 words or less.
I might have opposed the draft waterfront redevelopment plan but I would have supported the changed final plan.
Identify one area of waste in local government.
Efforts over the past few years by our City Council to streamline and modify non-personnel costs have been affective. However, there is a general expectation of these costs to rise with the exception of Contractual Services, Utilities, Leases and Rentals, and Subsidies and Contributions. In 2012 these expenditures were reduced by half in FY 2012 to account for increasing City efficiency. Perhaps there are other areas that need that level of scrutiny to become more efficient. I also think that streamlining the commissions we currently have could help save staff time and money and then energy could be used more efficiently to serve constituents.
Please list your individual and organizational endorsements.
While I have completed the questionnaires by the various PACs I have chosen not to seek the endorsements from public figures or organizations rather my focus has been on meeting Alexandrian voters.