Northeast Ward

Family: Single
Education: BS Chemistry – University of Texas at Dallas.
PhD Chemistry – Texas A&M University.
Occupation: Assistant professor of chemistry, The University of South Dakota.

1. Service on the Vermillion City Council is a great way to contribute to the community.  I would like to see the ideas from members of our community, bring them together, and help to shape the most positive direction for Vermillion.

Vermillion has several strengths than can attract people, including a vibrant arts community, local businesses, quality schools and city services, Farmer's Market, The University of South Dakota, the citizens of Vermillion, and natural beauty of the rolling landscape shaped by the Vermillion and Missouri rivers.  There is an opportunity to draw on these strengths and to make Vermillion an even better place to live.

Identify what you believe are the three biggest challenges facing the city in the next five years, and how you will address those challenges:
2. Vermillion has a number of challenges, and as we solve them the city will be a more attractive place to live.  The following are the three biggest challenges that I would like to address:  
 a) promote more open communication between the city and citizens,
 b) economic development,
 c) improve energy usage.
I. More open communication with citizens:
With the participation of all citizens, Vermillion can reach its full potential.  Communication between local government and citizens should be open both ways.  That is, the citizens should have as many methods and opportunities as practical to communicate with their representatives in local government, and local government should clearly communicate its operations as it functions to serve the peoples' will.

II.  Economic development
Toward the present day, it should be noted that the population of Vermillion has been roughly constant over the last four decades. The principle economic drivers throughout the period were agriculture, The University of South Dakota, and government. This has proved to be a stable economic foundation for Vermillion.
As a strategy for economic development, Vermillion needs to invest in what is here and inject the freshest thinking.  

1.  We have productive agriculture, a growing Farmers Market, and a new organic farms store in downtown.  These activities are synergistic and can be strengthened in several ways, for example:  

a.  Vermillion could build an outdoor mall for Farmers Market vendors.  Many people visit the Farmers Market and purchase fresh locally grown food and small crafts.  The venue could attract and support emerging artists.  As the smaller merchants develop, they could eventually open their own stores.  The farmers market is a focal point for citizens and visitors to Vermillion.  The value of Farmers Markets are many-fold, and cities around the United States are investing and promoting their markets.  Several benefits emerge:  local agriculture can sell direct to consumers – so both parties trade at a better price, wealth is built locally, people can eat local healthy food.

b.  Vermillion could support local foods processing, storage, and distribution infrastructure.  This has great potential to help local producers partner with the schools and other local institutions to provide year-round access to healthy local foods, improve institutional menus, and keep dollars circulating in the local community.  Not only that, it's a critical component to food security – cities like ours have mostly lost the local production and infrastructure capacity to feed ourselves in case of supply line problems, natural disaster, or terrorist attack.

2.  Vermillion should reconnect with the Missouri River.  We live on a scenic stretch of the river that most closely mimics its unperturbed state.  A number of opportunities exist:

a.  Vermillion, perhaps in partnership with USD and the state, could initiate a project to build a field research station and retreat for study of the Missouri River.  The project could attract scientists, historians, musicians, linguists, and authors from around the world in providing an inviting and compelling place to work.

b.  Vermillion can create and promote direct corridors and low-impact facilities for recreational activity on the river.  Currently, Vermillion does very little to promote the proximity of the scenic river.  Many people, citizens and visitors, could enjoy camping, non-motor boating, swimming, birding, hiking, cross-country skiing, etc. on the river.  Vermillion could build and promote a significant tourism industry.  Perhaps an outfitter and supply store, hotels or lodges, and 'river-fare' restaurants could emerge in town.  These activities would be synergistic with the music and arts, downtown shops, museums, winery, and friendly atmosphere in Vermillion.

c.  In order to protect this stretch of the river, and the wonderful opportunities that arise from its bounties, Vermillion should adopt precise and strong policy to limit development around the river.

3.  Vermillion is a multicultural center!  Let's acknowledge and celebrate this.  In Vermillion, there is a convergence of cultures.  These include native people, descendants of European settlers, and people from around the world (many of whom were attracted here by USD).  There are so many ways to share our traditions that include food, music, lore, and healing.  Our community will grow stronger in this sharing, and attract more people.  Economic activity could emerge as new restaurants, craft and clothing, healing and therapy, and regular concerts.  Another possibility may be a multiple partnership between the city, regional native tribes, state, and USD to build a Native American outreach center of national reputation.

III.  Investigate renewable energy

Scientific data and moral responsibility compel us to take steps to live sustainably.  Cornerstones of sustainable living include conservation and use of renewable sources.  With renewable energy infrastructure investments, we can build a reliable supply of energy that would protect us from price fluctuations and environmental risk.  These, in turn, will promote economic development and health.
Possible strategies include developing a rooftop solar initiative wherein the city (backed with federal funds) could provide expert personnel and financial incentives for solar installation.  Under a uniform, robust plan, the installations could comply with uniform electric and construction codes.  Additionally, South Dakota is a gold mine for the development of wind power.  Vermillion could purchase its own wind turbines and produce its own power instead of buying coal-derived electricity.  Such investment would protect citizens from price increases in their utility bills and provide zero-emissions power.
Conservation is an important component of energy policy.  City facilities should be evaluated to assess their energy and materials consumption, in order to identify opportunities to lower use.  While conserving resources, the city could save money.  The city vehicle fleet should be evaluated to identify the potential use of more fuel-efficient vehicles to effectively complete work tasks.  A great way to conserve fuel (and improve health of citizens) is to promote walking and cycling around town.  Selected roads could be identified as 'bike corridors' with clear lanes, and bike racks could be installed at city hall and parks.  Pedestrian friendly crosswalks should be a priority.

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