Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Jhanna Levin - Candidate for Ward I
I've invited all of our 8 council candidates to answer 4 interview questions. Our next candidate response is Ward I challenger Jhanna Levin. Please feel free to use the comments section to ask additional questions.
1. Who are you?
To be somewhat brief, I am a Prince George’s County School teacher, former Main Street business owner (L & L Gifts and Gourmet) and dedicated resident.
I hold a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instructional Development from Loyola College as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
I am trained in group dynamics, mediation and developing learning communities to promote change. These are some of the vital tools that I can bring to the council.
I am energetic, full of ideas and backed with the knowledge and education to see many initiatives through to actual action. I have been studying our HDC guidelines since my father was the chairman. I have been actively engaged in the formulation of idea sharing with regards to our fair city (due to my mother’s involvement) for many years as well.
I am prepared for the opportunity to serve the needs of the city in all aspects of our livable, playable, and workable community.
2. Why do you want the job of Laurel council member at this time?
I believe that controlling change is the only way to ensure that what you care about remains safe. As Laurel moves into its next phase of change, we need a council that can change with it. A council that is accountable for their decisions now, not just “willing to fix it later”. We need a council that finds creative and new solutions to the issues that face us all throughout our culturally and historically diverse city by having done the research before coming to the table and knowing where and how to find out more. We need a council that hears and responds to citizens concerns with open and equitable minds, that has a proactive plan for the next two years, with both reservation and smart growth in mind and all the while comprehending that what we do now affects Laurel forever, a council that can work together as a team using the specific skills of each individual councilmember to write legislation, to interpret code and synthesize solutions, to make decisions that are the most fair, most knowledgeable, and most forward thinking possible.
I believe that I embody these attributes and will try my best to address the wide variety of issues that are at stake in a community filled with individuals, families, senior citizens, merchants, service providers, city employees, historical landmarks, and beautiful green space.
3. What are the three most important things you want to accomplish if (re)elected?
To start with:
Different Approach; Development: require more infrastructure upgrades and traffic/density projections. Careful consideration to resident concerns, environmental impacts and in places, our historical surroundings. We must utilize HDC & code enforcement appropriately. Look at the impacts to schools, roads, traffic, service (police, fire, rescue, public works) and existing neighborhoods. Only the most appropriate, best fit should be approved. Knowledgeable caution…………..
Police/Public Safety: Retain quality officers (experience and time to deal with public safety issues; without these officers we waste valuable time), recruit the finest, dedicated new officers (improved benefits, fixing flawed retirement program, collective bargaining), partner with federal agencies with crime – will increase resources. Inexcusable that we have ignored the inequalities within the system, projected loss of officers and failed to realize the severity of the situation.
Main Street: the current way is not getting the results possible. Hyper-focused, proven- to -show -results approach is what Main Street deserves. With strict code enforcement, a professionally managed program is an incentive that will foster good will across the community and increase revenue for the city/ business owners. Increased revenue to the city to increase output of parks and recreation, employee benefits, public safety, public works….. People respond to flourishing, vibrant economic areas filled with a good mix of shopping, eating, living and doing. Main Street has the potential of much more. This revitalization would serve as a catalyst for continued movement toward the walk able, playable, livable, work able, shop able, community centered Laurel that we all want to thrive.
4. What is your vision for Laurel ten years from today?
We have withstood the introduction of the ICC, BRAC and more Konterra. We have a flourishing Main Street served by a professional Manager whose salary is now funded mostly by grants. We see very successful businesses with both foot traffic and destination shoppers. We have a great variety of stores for customers from both Laurel and surrounding areas to come and shop. We have even more specialty shops, quaint cafes and local water holes. We have retrofitted what used to be the Laurel Mall into a mixed use property. MTA increased our train times. We are a walk able, eatable, livable, workable community that touts both a historically preserved area and a thriving commercial area. We have maintained green space and open space (allowing for parks to continually improved upon, dog parks, recreational initiatives to be improved upon and environmental concerns proactively). We have a new Senior Center and fixed/ improved upon our Boys & Girls Club. Our officers were successfully retained, causing us to show a record decrease in crime. Need I continue? However, with all that said, we are still Laurel. Still a great place to raise a family. We are still a city steeped in history and lore. We’ve ironed out more kinks and made good decisions that affect the years to follow. We took chances and tried new ideas. We are still a small town trapped in the body of a medium sized city, we just figured out how to finally be comfortable in our new clothes.