ISSUES WE FACE

#BuildABetterSalem

Across the globe we are seeing a need for reimagined cities that account for resident protection from the climate crisis and active reinvestment in marginalized communities in the pursuit of racial equity. Chris Malstrom has a vision for Salem that goes beyond just operating "as usual" while we experience a global paradigm shift. Chris' vision is of a Salem that leads the nation into the 21st century, pioneering investment in green industry; guaranteeing secure, affordable housing for all; creating a civically educated and engaged populace; and enacting policies to create economic justice and racial equity for all Salemites.

HOUSING

Affordable housing is a multifaceted issue that will take more than a single solution for us to solve.

When my partner and I move here in 2013, we were initially finding ourselves priced out of Boston and the immediately adjacent towns and cities. Discovering Salem came as a boon to us as we had finally found a coastal city with a smaller, more laid back vibe and a unique twist to it's culture that was actually affordable! While we have loved the ways in which the city has grown over the past 8 years, we can't deny the fact that we wouldn't be able to afford to move into Salem were we to be trying today.


I greatly applaud the city's current efforts to expand our city's affordable housing options, but worry that many Salemites in the middle are feeling anxiety as the median price for units not designated affordable continues to rise. I join others in proposing the city pursue a tiered approach to median income levels in affordable housing stock while expanding the required % of housing stock that would fall under the affordability tiers. I will continue to work with community advocates and experts in housing affordability policy to educate myself on best practices and ways to make Salem a growing city with a guarantee to ensure housing as a right for all citizens. 

THE ENVIRONMENT

Ward 1, encompassing all of the Willows, Winter Island and the coastline travelling down into the Point, is one of Salem's communities most severely at risk from the threat of sea level rise and storms made more powerful due to climate change.


Many scientists studying the climate crisis say we are lucky if we aren't already past the point of no return in addressing climate change. It is our responsibility to address this crisis with the urgency that it demands and start taking bold, progressive action.

I will work closely with Salem Sound Coastwatch, SAFE, SERC, the Conservation Commission and Salem's new Sustainability and Resiliency department to plan and execute strategies that might help maintain our coastline and protect Salem homes from the increased threat of coastal flooding. I will collaborate with other members of the council to enact ordinances that will provide assistance and shelter to residents displaced by sea level rise and work to ensure the city can provide compensation for land lost to the rising tides.


In addition, I will act in tandem with the aforementioned groups to ensure that all new and future development is done with consideration for shifting flood maps and updates in green development to guarantee the city doesn't just meet carbon neutral goals, but exceeds them. I will actively work to pursue avenues through which Salem can lead in green technology investment and coastal resiliency and preservation measures. I am a strong advocate for offshore wind technology and will push for an urgency in bringing the offshore wind industry to Salem beyond what we have traditionally seen from the city. It is also incredibly important that the city engages in an effort to reduce the need for cars to move throughout the city, through an expansion of public transit options and a reprioritization of pedestrian traffic over vehicular traffic. Salem existed without cars for hundreds of years, it's continued existence shouldn't depend on them, either.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

The city needs to take a more active role in maintaining engagement with its population. One of the most notable concerns I hear from residents as I get to know the Ward is that they often feel uninformed on the various city projects that impact their neighborhoods. Some feel frustrated at an apparent lack of community input and involvement, while others often express frustrations at a lack of clearly communicated timeframes for projects and solutions for how those projects will impact resident life. While the city has taken strides over the years to increase its communication capacity, there is still a lot of room for improvement, and the Ward Councillor should take a consistently proactive role in informing residents and providing transparency to the community. 

Across the country we have let civic education fall by the wayside, resulting in a voting population that feels unsure about the workings of their government, from the local, through state and to federal level. While the average person might have an understanding of their Congressperson or US Senator, often the more local positions and their associated responsibilities remain more of a mystery beyond a sea of yard signs every few years. Salem has a responsibility to engage with its populace to help keep them engaged and informed on the workings of government and the importance of voting. As an initial step in this process, I intend to spearhead a Voter Resource Guide for the city to send to every registered voter. This guide will include such things as: Ward and Precinct info, with maps displaying boundaries and polling locations; a list of all locally-focused elected offices from City Councillor through State Senator, with descriptions of the roles, responsibilities and how the position functions within the government at large; and a basic explainer of the workings of city government, discussing Salem specifically and making reference to how it differs or operates similarly to other cities and towns in MA. After sending to every registered voter, the city should automatically provide this information with every voter registration to ensure a continuously informed voting population.

I also anticipate working closely with the School Board to develop a plan for a significantly increased presence of civic life education, diving deeper into the topics explored by the Voter Resource Guide. The end goal of this civics education would be a generation of graduates versed and ready to participate actively in civic life regardless of where they live in the country. 

RACIAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE

Salem has an obligation to do more for the less privileged members of our community and I will work to ensure that it does.


As a whole, we need to work harder to self-educate and address the role of systemic racism within our world today. Salem holds a unique role in the legacy of slavery due to its position within the triangular rum/molasses/slave trade, and that past participation should serve as a constant reminder of the work the city needs to pursue to attain a measure of restorative justice. If elected, I will work closely with the city's Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, as well as the Race Equity Commission to aid in Salem's continued work towards this goal.


Within our local economy, one of the pillars that sustains us is the service industry. It is an industry largely made up of lower-wage hourly workers who, in many cases see little protection from potential abuses due to low economic power. Because of the importance of this group of workers to the city, it is imperative that Salem work to protect them. I will work with members of the Council to enact worker protection ordinances targeted at protecting workers from wage theft and abuse. Salem has already had 2 public instances of wage theft, it should be a priority that it protects its working population from a third.


Recent Trials of Universal Basic Income programs first in Stockton, CA and now in Chelsea show that these types of programs can have significant benefit for communities with low economic power. If elected, I will work passionately to have Salem be another trial location for a UBI program that can benefit our low income citizens.