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ST. LOUIS BOARD OF ALDERMEN CANDIDATE SURVEY ON SAFE STREETS

TRAILNET AND ST. LOUIS BWORKS TEAMED UP TO SURVEY CANDIDATES FOR THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN IN ADVANCE OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS PRIMARY MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS ON MARCH 7, 2023.

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This questionnaire was created to educate City voters on the issues that our organizations consider central to our missions. These survey questions were constructed to collect Board of Aldermen candidates’ positions on issues related to safe streets, infrastructure funding, environmental impact and more. We received responses from nine of the 39 aldermanic candidates in the new 14 wards. See the list of respondents and their complete, unedited responses below:

RESPONDENTS

Ward 1Anne Schweitzer & Matthew Kotraba
Ward 5Helen Petty
Ward 6Daniela Velazquez
Ward 7Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon
Ward 8Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley
Ward 9Michael Browning
Ward 10Emmett L Coleman
Ward 12Tashara T. Earl

Non-respondents: Anthony Kirchner (1); Tom Oldenburg, Phill Menendez, Katie Bellis (2); Shane Cohn (3); Bret Narayan, Joe Vaccaro, Casey Otto (4); Joe Vollmer (5); Jennifer Florida (6); Alisha Sonnier, J.P. Mitchom (7); Cara Spencer, Ken Ortmann (8); Michael Gras, Tina Pihl (9); Shameem Clark Hubbard (10); Laura Keys, Carla Wright (11); Sharon Tyus, Darron M. Collins-Bey, Yolanda Brown, Walter Rush (12); Pam Boyd, Norma Walker, Elicia Middlebrook (13); James Page, Brandon Bosley, Rasheen Aldridge, Ebony Washington (14)

SECTION 1

Questions in this section included pre-made answer choices, as well as an option for open response.

QUESTION 1

SHOULD THE 1/2 CENT SALES TAX FOR STREET AND SIDEWALK INFRASTRUCTURE GO DIRECTLY TO THE CITY OR CONTINUE TO BE DISTRIBUTED AS “WARD CAPITAL” TO THE ALDERPERSONS?
Anne Schweitzer (1)The city needs an infrastructure plan, with the administration and alderpersons working together to fund it. That plan will likely take several revenue streams to accomplish. Ward capital alone is nowhere near enough for all the infrastructure needs of the city it is expected to cover.
Matthew Kotraba (1)Alderpersons know their ward best and should make those decisions
Helen Petty (5)Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide
Daniela Velazquez (6)Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)If the city can justify the spending with a clear, comprehensive plan that is authentic to each neighborhood, while directly impacting the problems, and beautifying streets simultaneously, that would be something I could possibly introduce to residents and voters as an option with their tax dollars. Until then i believe the alderman is elected to make those budget decisions to address those needs and i believe that the Ward capital should be given to the alderman.
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide
Michael Browning (9)Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide
Emmett L Coleman (10)Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide
Tashara T. Earl (12)The money should be divided between alderpersons and the city

QUESTION 2

WHAT METRIC(S) SHOULD BE USED TO DETERMINE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF THE 1/2 CENT SALES TAX?
Anne Schweitzer (1)The 1/2 cent sales tax is split with half going to ward capital funds, and the other half going to parks, recreation centers, citywide capital improvements, and to police department capital improvements. I believe funds going directly to each ward should be split equally, but would be open to a conversation about increasing the percentage that goes to the other categories. All of this relies on the city having an infrastructure plan in place.
Matthew Kotraba (1)The decision needs to be made before the new direction is applied.
Helen Petty (5)Poverty, by census tracts; Number of street miles contained in the wardI think we need to look at the current state of roads and sidewalks in any given area, the historic disinvestment, and frequency of use by cars/large trucks etc
Daniela Velazquez (6)Number of vacant lots and abandoned buildings; Number of street miles contained in the ward
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)Based on Severity & equity & cost
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)Number of street miles contained in the ward
Michael Browning (9)Ward capital shouldn’t be the funding mechanism for infrastructure. It is not enough money and it puts decisions in the hands of political actors and non-experts. Most of ward capital is currently used on infrastructure. I am in favor of a small amount distributed equitably among the wards based off of a combination of metrics, but only if the city takes infrastructure out of the purview of alderpeople and their ward capital budgets.
Emmett L Coleman (10)Poverty, by census tracts; Homeowners vs. renter percentage; Number of vacant lots and abandoned buildings; Number of street miles contained in the ward
Tashara T. Earl (12)Poverty, by census tracts; Number of vacant lots and abandoned buildings

QUESTION 3

SHOULD THE CITY EMBARK ON A VISION ZERO “NO TRAFFIC FATALITIES” APPROACH TO STREET AND SIDEWALK MAINTENANCE AND IMPROVEMENTS?
Anne Schweitzer (1)Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal
Matthew Kotraba (1)I would like to know more about Vision Zero to form a position.
Helen Petty (5)Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal
Daniela Velazquez (6)Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)It is no way to guarantee a “No fatalities” plan. We can not control “Acts of God” as tragic as some are, it’s unrealistic to promote this in that way. But, I would be open to any and all discussion that preserves human life and makes traveling our city highways, bridges, streets, alleys, sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, overpasses, and snow routes safe to drive, bike, or walk.
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal
Michael Browning (9)Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal
Emmett L Coleman (10)Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal
Tashara T. Earl (12)Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal

QUESTION 4

SHOULD THE CITY USE FUNDS TO SUPPORT BETTER PEDESTRIAN AND BIKE INFRASTRUCTURE AND EDUCATION?
Anne Schweitzer (1)We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety
Matthew Kotraba (1)There needs to be a more feasible budget approach to all infrastructure projects.
Helen Petty (5)We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety
Daniela Velazquez (6)We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)Yes we should, but not at any cost. Funds should not be pulled from basic needs or civil service departments to fund potential projects. If we can secure grants, federal/state funding, or even balance our own city budget better to free from wasteful spending that could open up funds to allocate resources towards eco-friendly travel expansion.
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety
Michael Browning (9)We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety
Emmett L Coleman (10)We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety
Tashara T. Earl (12)We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety

QUESTION 5

SHOULD THE CITY INCREASE AUTOMATED TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT IN LIGHT OF THE CONTINUED DECREASE IN POLICE OFFICERS?
Anne Schweitzer (1)I support automated traffic enforcement and officer involvement in traffic enforcement.
Matthew Kotraba (1)No, the police should provide traffic enforcement
Helen Petty (5)Yes, but it must be equitably enforced
Daniela Velazquez (6)Automated traffic enforcement is unconstitutional in the city.
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)No, red light cameras have been proven to be unconstitutional and too evasive in court to hold drivers accountable. We need more police/traffic police presence. Traffic stops actually being executed in the field to create a sense of safety and declaration of action taken to combat our traffic problems.
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)Yes, but it must be equitably enforced
Michael Browning (9)Yes, but it must be equitably enforced
Emmett L Coleman (10)Yes, but it must be equitably enforced
Tashara T. Earl (12)Yes, but it must be equitably enforced

QUESTION 6

SHOULD THE CITY INCREASE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT THROUGH NON POLICE OR COURTROOM TACTICS?
Anne Schweitzer (1)Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies; Residents can report concerns to their Neighborhood Improvement Specialist. They often help with issues like this in the neighborhood.
Matthew Kotraba (1)Increase police visibility and enforcement that could help overall crime concerns.
Helen Petty (5)Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies
Daniela Velazquez (6)Warning letters to Insurance companies
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)We can not “enforce” without the judicial system and police departments working together to ensure safety. To increase accountability by using non law enforcement to protect state and city traffic laws at this time seems unrealistic but not unreasonable
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies
Michael Browning (9)Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies; Civilian personnel can be used as extra eyes and ears on the road, and respond to low-risk situations like traffic collisions to fill out reports, instead of diverting one of the city’s few traffic officers to do these routine tasks.
Emmett L Coleman (10)No, the city should not use these strategies, I believe that simply sending letters to car owners is wasteful and the majority of people will ignore them. There is no way to even determine if car owners have current car insurance outside of police enforcement. There has to be some sort of enforcement to be effective, even if there are warnings provided to drivers. I think having cameras at intersections and along bike routes can help solve our hit-and-run crisis to assist the police in catching drivers who take off after an accident.
Tashara T. Earl (12)Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies

QUESTION 7

SHOULD THE CITY ALLOW RESIDENTS TO ASSIST WITH (SUBMIT PHOTOS OF) SIMPLE INFRACTIONS OF NON-MOVING MOTOR VEHICLES SUCH AS BLOCKING SIDEWALKS WITH CARS FOR REVIEW AND POSSIBLE MAIL TICKETING?
Anne Schweitzer (1)Yes. This can already occur through reporting to CSB, police, and the traffic division.
Matthew Kotraba (1)Use available city services appropriately for citizens to report local issues.
Helen Petty (5)Yes
Daniela Velazquez (6)No
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)Yes, to residents submitting their own photos to help investigators, but No, to mailing tickets to a person house, we have a sheriffs department and those officers could serve those duties in a professional way. Mailing tickets seems a little predatory and will create more of a division between neighbors.
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)I would yes, but with guidelines around dates and times. As well as limitations to the number of times a submission could be made within a certain timeframe.
Michael Browning (9)Yes
Emmett L Coleman (10)We currently have a system in place where residents can take photos and file complaints with the Citizens Service Bureau(CSB) or contact our designated Neighborhood Improvement Specialist(NIS) to solve most non-moving motor vehicle infractions. I plan to go the extra mile to further communicate and collaborate with the NIS and CSB to obtain estimated timelines on resolving issues, relaying those timelines to residents to keep them updated on the status of their requests, and to collaborate with the city department employees and housing inspectors to ensure the issues are completed within a timely manner.
Tashara T. Earl (12)Yes

QUESTION 8

IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS, WHAT DIFFERENT MODES HAVE YOU USED TO GET AROUND THE CITY?
Anne Schweitzer (1)Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Bus, Taxi / Rideshare
Matthew Kotraba (1)Drive alone, Metrolink, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility
Helen Petty (5)Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle
Daniela Velazquez (6)Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Taxi / Rideshare
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)Drive alone, Walking, Metrolink, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility, Taxi / Rideshare
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Metrolink, Bus, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility
Michael Browning (9)Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Metrolink, Taxi / Rideshare
Emmett L Coleman (10)Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Metrolink, Bus, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility, Taxi / Rideshare
Tashara T. Earl (12)Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Taxi / Rideshare

SECTION 2

Questions in this section are exclusively open response.

QUESTION 9

2022 SAW 18 PEDESTRIAN AND 2 CYCLIST FATALITIES, AND 171 PEDESTRIAN AND 48 CYCLIST INJURIES. WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR SOLVING THIS PROBLEM?
Anne Schweitzer (1)I believe in the Vision Zero approach to build systems that prioritize safety first and foremost, bringing together transportation professionals, policymakers, and all stakeholders to work towards this goal together. That means knowing the data, and using that to guide decision making. The city budget needs to reflect the priorities of the community through community engagement and prioritizing areas that need the most attention and investment. The city must set a date to achieve this goal, and I’m hopeful this can be a priority of the Board of Aldermen in the upcoming session.
Matthew Kotraba (1)Increased police prescience in assumed high incidents areas.
Helen Petty (5)The use of technology to enforce traffic laws, increasing use of public transportation, stiffer repercussions for traffic violence, mandatory driver training programs for repeat offenders, and public education campaigns.
Daniela Velazquez (6)The first step is making our streets safer by lowering the speed limit on high-traffic streets. At the same time, we need to invest in pedestrian enhancements on busy streets holistically and across the city.
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)My vision is having drivers actually respect traffic laws, speed limits, and traffic lights. Accidents happen, accidents are unfortunate and unpredictable. The best thing we can do as a city is continue to work to update and upgrade our infrastructure to meet the needs of all no matter their choice of transportation. The metro link needs better security, the buses need better ventilation, the bike lanes need to be barricaded to protect the cyclists from cars from merging, crosswalks needs to be elevated, intersections need to be safer. It’s a lot of work that needs to be done but my vision is to work with all the experts to comprise a plan to improve the quality of transportation in this city.
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)Harsher penalties around reckless driving (e.g. loss of your license for 5-10yrs), and increased fine amounts (double the current amount).
Michael Browning (9)This numbers are horrifying, and likely an undercount. It is absolutely a policy choice to continue to let this happen. To address, we should move infrastructure planning and funding back to a central city department with the directive to connect existing pedestrian and bicycle networks. St. Louis’ future is walkable, and we need more leaders who prioritize people over cars and car infrastructure.
Emmett L Coleman (10)I plan to reduce the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths by sponsoring legislation for stricter pedestrian protections locally while also working with state lawmakers to do the same statewide. I will also facilitate the installation of traffic-calming measures within the new 10th Ward that would include more pedestrian and cyclist protections such as protected bike lanes, crosswalks, and curb extensions while fighting for these improvements citywide.
Tashara T. Earl (12)I lost a family member cycling due to a drunk driver on Mardi Gras in 2019. I truly believe we must address this issue from all angles starting with enforcing drivers education for all new drivers. Parent with poor habits teaching teens how to drive creates irresponsible drivers. We should review the legalities of the red light cameras to fine the vehicle of the car and not the driver. We should install more bike lane visibility and safety infrastructure to better protect our pedestrian and cyclists. In addition, add more signage to the streets to bring more awareness to cycling in the city.

QUESTION 10

IN ORDER TO DECREASE CARBON EMISSIONS, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO INCREASE THE USAGE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OR BIKING TO WORK?
Anne Schweitzer (1)In the last few months, I’ve started commuting to work by MetroBus and encourage others to do the same. I support the North South MetroLink expansion and public information campaigns that encourage public transportation. I try to share my own experiences with public transit on social media. I support increased and improved biking infrastructure and more enforcement of traffic laws that are supposed to protect pedestrians, including, but not limited to, speed limits, parking or traveling in bike lanes, or parking motorcycles on sidewalks.
Matthew Kotraba (1)Provide EV buses.
Helen Petty (5)In order to increase the use of public transportation we need to expand the routes and make it more efficient and reliable. By looking at solutions like bus rapid transit lanes and the expansion of metro link we can make public transportation more useful for more people. Similarly, we can increase the use of biking to work by making it safer. Protected bike lanes city wide, narrowing arterials, and traffic calming measures can all be useful.
Daniela Velazquez (6)First, we need to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. To increase the use of public transportation, prioritizing projects that focus on developing regional transportation, such as a North-South MetroLink, establishing a Bus Rapid Transit option and creating residential development projects near public transit. As a Board, we should pair our planning of public transit with investments in affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods, greenways and other holistic initiatives.
Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)Depending on where some people work, public transit may not be an option, but I would definitely recommend it for recreational travel to the Forest Park, Downtown, Cardinals games as a method to beat traffic, parking cost and car break ins.
Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)I would like to propose and/ move forward with developing a Rapid Bus Transit system. It would be about half as expensive compared to expanding the MetroLink, and could be completed in a shorter amount of time.
Michael Browning (9)When you see a statistic like “36% of pedestrian crashes and 45% of pedestrian fatalities occur within 200 feet of a MetroBus stop in St. Louis city,” it becomes clear that using public transportation is not safe. We also know that it is not convenient. Improving the safety of infrastructure directly around bus and metro stops should be a priority. We also cannot expect people to take the bus if it takes 4 times longer than it takes to drive to their destination. Increasing the number of buses for major routes, hiring more drivers with better pay and benefits, and using technology to make it easy to use the bus are all good starts to making public transportation more convenient to use. We can also encourage new developments and employers to provide secure bike parking on site, as well as provide repair stations near common destinations. But at the end of the day, people won’t bike to work if they don’t feel safe on the roads, so it comes down to infrastructure and maintenance. Does St. Louis have a bike lane sweeper? It absolutely should.
Emmett L Coleman (10)I am self-employed so I do not have to commute to work. I do, however, own only hybrid vehicles right now to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption. As an alderperson, I look to use public transit to commute to city hall. I plan to facilitate the installation of traffic-calming measures within the new 10th Ward, which would include more protected bike lanes, more highly-visible and protected ADA approved crosswalks, and road signage. I also plan to facilitate the installation of electric vehicle charging stations along commercial corridors within the new 10th Ward as well as enforce the installation of electric vehicle charging stations as part of any new mixed use development within the new ward to encourage more electrical vehicle usage in the city.
Tashara T. Earl (12)I would highlight the benefits of taking public transportation and biking to work. In addition express how this helps our society’s air quality for our overall health. I would encourage the city to offer free public transportation to encourage more citizens to ride public transportation.