Democratic City Council candidate Mike Signer on Monday laid out a six-point action plan for environmental goals he hopes to achieve if elected.

“I have been an ardent environmentalist since I was in high school,” Signer said. “My first experience as a progressive activist was going to Al Gore’s Earth Day in 1989 and starting an environmental club that set up compost bins and stream cleaning.”

Signer is one of five candidates seeking three Democratic nominations in the June 9 primary. The other four are incumbents Kathy Galvin and Dede Smith and challengers Wes Bellamy and Lena Seville.

Mayor Satyendra Huja is not seeking a third term.

Signer has the support of former Mayor Kay Slaughter, who served on the City Council from 1990 to 1998. She also worked as an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center before retiring.

“In both my professional life and my time on council, the environment has been a great concern to me and continues to be so as a citizen,” Slaughter said.

Signer held his event at Riverview Park just outside an entrance to the Rivanna Trail, an amenity created during Slaughter’s term on the council.

“It was part of [former Councilor] David Toscano’s and my political platform to see that it happened,” Slaughter said.

“Councilors just only have so much time to be able to accomplish a lot, and when they lay out in advance what they plan to do, then they are making that commitment to the public,” she said.

Signer said his first goal, if elected, is to double the amount of street trees planted by the city.

“Street trees do an incredible amount of work to make the city a more healthful environment,” he said. The city currently plants about 100 trees a year.

Signer also said he wants the city to turn the Rivanna River into a destination.

“This is one of the highlights of our beautiful city,” Signer said. “My wife and I bring out-of-town guests here. We walk along the river and fish and run.”

Other environmental initiatives include increasing energy efficiency through a financing program such as Property Assessed Clean Energy, which encourages homeowners and others to invest in solar panels and other devices.

Signer also said he wants to protect historic properties for adaptive reuse rather than encourage new development. He also thinks city planning policies should promote environmental goals.

“We should be incorporating into the design of the city many more environmental principles from street widths to street lighting,” Signer said.

Signer also said the city should continue to encourage more people to use their bicycles. Specifically, he said he supports the goals outlined in the new bicycle and pedestrian master plan and wants to establish a citywide bike network.

Last week, Seville held a press conference outlining her environmental goals. One of the planks in her platform is to get the parks and recreation department to eliminate pesticide use.

“I am very interested in ensuring that our schools are safe from chemicals and potential pesticides that may harm our children,” Bellamy said. “I want to continue to work with the Sierra Club to make sure our parks, bike lanes and trails are well maintained.”

Galvin, who is seeing a second term, said she wants to implement the Strategic Investment Area’s concept of daylighting Pollock’s Branch to create what she called an “eco-district” in the city. She also said the city can help provide jobs by training people to do “green infrastructure” work such as installation of bio-swales and filtration systems.

“Since meeting [pollution reduction] requirements are a need throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, these kinds of positions will be highly in demand with great entrepreneurship potential as well,” Galvin said.

Fellow incumbent Smith pointed to what she said was a lengthy record in environmental protection.

“We’ve added a hundred acres of new parkland that includes the historic Fry’s Spring, the Hartmans Mill site and the original Charlottesville quarry site,” Smith said. “The land doubles as protection for our waterways and the Rivanna Trail.”
 

image_printPrint

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.