Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Revisiting Mayor Peterson on Bikes and the Environment

With new Mayor Anna Peterson taking the Oath of Office tonight at City Council, it seemed like a good time to revisit some of her public statements.  Back in May, Beth Casper interviewed the two Mayoral Candidates on the environment.  Here are excerpts.

Question: Salem has been working to improve bicycle safety. What else, if anything, do you think Salem could do to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes for trips shorter than five miles? How could the city do that?
I will work to make downtown more livable. I live in downtown and walk to my engagements within a mile of where I live. City Hall is just across the street. We can start by modeling and encouraging each other to get out of our cars. If Edwin and I can get rid of one of our cars, anyone can. We can also move forward on making Salem more bike friendly. The city can continue to add and improve bike lanes, and connect Wallace Marine Park and Riverfront Park with Minto Brown Park with a pedestrian and bike bridge. Both the Streets and Bridges Bond measure and stimulus funds the city was awarded will allow the city to build more bike paths. The city must also be a leader in educating the public about how bikes and pedestrians and cars can mix more safely. As mayor, I will also participate in the Electrical Vehicle/Federal Grant to install electric car battery charging stations along I-5. In addition, I will support buying new electric vehicles for our own city fleet and installing pollution-control equipment on our diesel cars and trucks.
[It is worth dwelling for a moment on the fact that Mayor Peterson lives in downtown proper, in easy walking distance of City Hall. We have a terrific opportunity here!]

Question: Portland city planners are working to create "20-minute neighborhoods," communities designed for residents to be able to walk to essential amenities, shop, or dine out in 20 minutes or less. Do you see something similar to this in Salem's future?
Yes. I see that vision because I am living that dream every day. I will encourage future development to reduce travel time and to create communities that have resources that residents need — groceries, other retail, churches, schools, and medical and professional services. As mayor, I will support a neighborhood mixed-use plan that will allow "mini-city" amenities to be located in residential areas to reduce the need to drive somewhere else for services and goods.

Question: In a recent online poll at the Statesman Journal, respondents rated protecting and improving the environment as the No. 2 priority for the next mayor. If elected, what will you do to address this concern?
There is no need to wait till I am elected. On Earth Day, I was cleaning up the Shelton ditch with my fellow citizens, installing low-energy bulbs in my home, recycling more and using less. Fellow citizens, join me in making Salem the best city to live and work. Together we can do anything. Read and implement the suggestions in Marion County Waste Matters, Spring 2010. Read the Family Fun Checklist for identifying practical changes to make around the house — www.climateclassroom.org. Watch the "Story of Stuff" video www.storyofstuff.com.

Question: If elected, do you have plans to move Salem to the forefront on environmental issues?
Salem must be a leader in livability and sustainability; protecting the environment for our children and grandchildren is an important part of that discussion. Salem as a community has amazing resources on the issues of sustainability. Salem's Sustainability Council is made up of Marion County, Marion Soil and Water District, and Willamette University among others. As mayor, I would push the Sustainability Council to evaluate Salem's natural resources, including our parks, streams, green spaces and the Willamette River, and develop a comprehensive plan to preserve and protect these resources for future generations. The city must be a partner and a leader with these groups in making Salem the healthiest community in Oregon.

Question: Salem is currently the largest city in Oregon to not sign on to the Mayors Climate Agreement Act. If elected, would you sign the Mayors Global Climate Agreement Act? Do you think the city of Salem can do anything to curb carbon-based pollution at the local level or do you think we should continue to defer to the federal/state government?
Without signing the agreement, Salem has exceeded the action items listed in the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement based on the Kyoto protocols. The Mayors Climate Protection Agreement came to Council in 2005. The council had concerns about the political implications of the act but fully supported the actions outlined in the document. To meld those two conflicting items, the council adopted the action items into Salem's own Environmental Action Plan. Salem has been aggressive in obtaining those goals and taken it several steps further by developing the Salem Renewable Energy Park, establishing the Sustainability Council made up of over 30 local entities engaged in environmental and sustainable-energy actions, in addition to many more strong steps to protect the environment. Yes, Salem can do more. And Salem should not defer to the federal or state government but instead continue to partner with them and Marion County to make Salem the healthiest community in Oregon. Citizens, read the agreement: www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/agreement.htm; then, when I am mayor, let me know your thoughts. If signing the agreement is as important as implementing its goals, then I will listen with my pen ready.
She asks for feedback, and so I think that's a great way to start the New Year: Let Mayor Peterson know how important is making it easier to walk and bike in Salem!


Kelly Carlisle said...

We wish our new mayor the best! This community carries a lot of promise and potential. The challenge for her will be whether she can create capacity and momentum with other leaders and stakeholders to make changes.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

There is so much potential! But politicians have indicated many times that they don't want to get out in front of opinion too much - so as advocates and fans of bicycling, it's important that we let our electeds know how important bicycling is, and with our comments, letters, calls, and appearances help create the political room for more pro-bike activity.

That's a reason (not the only one, of course) the Salem area has no bike projects in the $21M flex fund queue.

Here's her email:

And here's a list for the whole of council:

Daniel Evans said...

Good points Kelly and Eric,

I couldn't agree more. We have to build a fire under them. I am glad you both see potential there though. Now if we can all work together to harness it:-)