Candidate Questions for Laura Rodriguez-Carbone

Occupation: Community Outreach Coordinator

1.) Why should we vote for you and not the other candidate? (100 words). 

I have a clear platform and proven professional history of service. On the other hand, my opponent claims to personally oversee 600 employees as a court administrator and manage a budget of $60 million. According to the latest annual Juvenile court report, her job falls under the court administration division, which does not directly oversee the budget - the legal division does. This statement is misleading. My opponents campaign is also backed by the old boys network of money and political influence. This is not the kind of leadership Lakewood deserves.  

Residents in Ward 1 deserve a councilperson who will put their needs first, serve with transparency, integrity and be above undue influence. I am that candidate.

2.) Name two things you have learned while walking around talking to residents, first: what are their biggest concerns about their ward, and second, what are their biggest concerns about Lakewood in general? How will you address these concerns as their councilperson? (100 words, or less, for each). 

Having personally knocked on 2,000 doors in Ward 1 and spoken with hundreds of residents, our seniors are concerned about transportation, accessibility, and being priced out of their homes due to property tax increases and fixed incomes. They are concerned about public health and senior services, which they feel are underfunded.  Many families I spoke with are concerned about traffic safety and the safety of school-aged children given the amount of speeding observed in the neighborhoods. Residents across the board, and especially younger professionals, are concerned about affordable housing and the future of housing development in the Ward. 

The biggest concern about Lakewood, in general, is a perceived lack of transparency and open communication from city government. Residents want their government to be more transparent, council representatives to be more engaged in the neighborhoods, and a representative who will pick up the phone, provide responsive constituent services, include them in policy discussions and advocate for their needs within the community and on city council. They also, by and large, support ethics reforms that would ensure honesty and accountability for Lakewood’s public officials.

I will address these issues by being accessible with regular office hours; reestablish the community circulator; work with the community on responsive traffic safety solutions,  utilize close working relationships with state legislators to bring back funding to reestablish the health department, take a thoughtful, transparent and careful approach to new development by supporting and proposing affordable housing legislation to keep Lakewood affordable and prioritize opportunities for development of affordable transitional and single family homes for seniors and young families.

3.) Since the last major election cycle, Lakewood has lost 1500+ skilled jobs and access to health care due to the liquidation of Lakewood Hospital. What was your position on the hospital closing process: Did you vote for the Master Agreement that closed Lakewood Hospital, or would you have if you had been on council? Why or why not? If you had it to do again, would you do anything differently? (150 words or less)

Working in public health, I see gaps in access to health care grow whenever hospitals close. I would not have voted to close the city’s hospital had I been on city council. Because of my experience in public health, I applied to serve on the Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force and was unanimously selected by Lakewood City Council to do so. With our aging population, and nearly 50% of children receiving free or reduced school lunches, we cannot leave public health of the vulnerable to chance. We must be proactive to ensure that residents are safe, have adequate and appropriate care access, and that we are managing public health based on Lakewood’s specific population needs.

4.) A  big complaint from both the elderly and those without cars is the loss of the community circulator. If elected, what would you do to make the community more accessible to all? (100 words or less) 

In Ward 1, we have many home-bound seniors, as well as physically disabled residents who depend on neighbors and family to provide rides to the grocery store, or shovel sidewalks. We need to listen and actively address these concerns by ensuring access to Lakewood for those who can no longer drive or walk. Reestablishing our community circulator will be important to doing this, and we must develop a sidewalk repair program that prioritizes accessibility for disabled and elderly residents. 

5.) What will you do to balance the needs of residents and residential neighborhoods with economic (commercial, business) development? (100 words or less) 

I believe that residents need a deciding voice in how we develop Lakewood for future generations. We need to focus on strengthening the businesses we have and supporting startups in their first two years to help more take root. I believe we need to shift development from a mixed-use overlay that is condo/apartment heavy, to favor single family and transitional homes for seniors outside of downtown Lakewood. Development should be thoughtful, balanced, transparent and in line with who we are as a city and community.

6.) Over the past 15 years we have encountered  3 “moments” which have severely divided the city of Lakewood, mostly about social economic issues like health care, eminent domain, land use, land giveaways to developers, etc. If elected or re-elected what are you going to do to help mend fences and bring the community together again?   (150 words or less)

Based on the overwhelming community feedback I have received as a candidate about transparency and open communication, I believe it is essential that we pass ethics reforms introduced to city council by Councilperson-at-Large Rader. Clear ethics laws and processes work to protect the rights and tax investment of all residents. I believe the adoption of these reforms will help to establish a process for public participation and accountability in government that is clear, just and that residents can be confident in. We must rebuild trust between residents and our city government - progress to mend fences, in my view, will be unlikely to be made without it.

7.) The records lawsuit was a moral and legal disaster for our city. What steps will you take to make our public records available and prevent future obstructionism by public officials? Do you support the proposed ethics and campaign finance reform legislation?   (100 words or less)

The reforms proposal introduced by Councilperson Rader would ensure a balanced, resident-led ethics commission as a check on city council and the mayor's office, create an avenue for direct feedback and oversight on laws by the community, and ensure our public officials are actively engaged in getting things done for Lakewood's residents. It would also restore balance in our local elections by capping contributions to local candidates at the Federally established level of $2,700 per person. It would also establish a two-day turnaround time for public records requests. If elected to council, I would work in earnest to pass these reforms, which are essential to the public process and a direct response to what the community has indicated is needed. That is my position today and that will be my position tomorrow.

8.) A majority of Lakewood’s street fairs revolve around wearing seasonal clothes while walking between Arthur and Belle on Detroit, creating a burden to those businesses while not highlighting other areas of the community that deserve attention and a turn at putting on the party. Would you be for moving events around, and/or developing new events? (100 words or less)

I believe it is important and essential to the survival of businesses in the West End, Uptown and Birdtown that we develop an economic development and beautification plan, to market what each business district uniquely offers to patrons and residents. Community events should absolutely be part of this plan. We must also be smart about what businesses we bring into Lakewood and ensure that unnecessary competition that favors large chains does not displace our small businesses, which make up the majority of businesses in Lakewood. 

9.) Was the LO fair with this process? (50 words or less)

Yes. The question and answers are available and accessible to everyone and will allow voters to make an independent decision for who they believe can best represent the interests of our community on November 5th. I thank the Lakewood Observer for this opportunity to share my community vision with voters.

Article Link: http://lakewoodobserver.com/read/2019/10/02/candidate-questions-for-laura-rodriguezcarbone?fbclid=IwAR2ZYwnNG5o1Cu0vC_w6TBdyCJsZtNvjgvxsJ_j94M-tRTBntRhfr8TEpwc

Laura Rodriguez-Carbone