My name is Vaya Lauren Jones and I have lived in the district since 2018. What residents of District 10 will find is that I am an open and frequent communicator. I follow through with commitments and take initiative to make connections and find common ground. I enjoy problem solving and will be an alderperson who is grounded in the work of strengthening our neighborhoods.
I believe communication is the foundation for bringing neighbors together and empowering one another to own our neighborhoods. That is what residents are craving: communication about what is happening in this city, information about the kinds of resources available, and engagement with each other. We need to expand awareness and strengthen participation in our neighborhood groups to learn more about who we live near. Through these groups we can find neighbors in need and pair them with neighbors who can help. We’ve been tucked away in our homes for two years and it’s time to start reconnecting with those around us.
What are your plans/ideas to increase affordable housing in Appleton?
We need to revitalize existing neighborhoods. Addressing affordable housing will take strategic planning and a multi-pronged approach. I would advocate to prioritize strengthening neighborhood organizations, building neighborhood watch groups, supporting homeowners in making repairs, working with landlords to maintain quality housing, and reviving communal spaces. We can breathe life into our neighborhoods and lower crime rates, increase property values, and create positive opportunities for those live and work here.
Do you support the creation of a Climate Specialist Staff position, as recommended by the Climate Change Taskforce, for the City of Appleton?
There is a lot of positive work being accomplished to reduce the city’s carbon footprint across the different departments within the City of Appleton. Having a specialized position to coordinate each team’s work would increase efficiency, in both time and cost, for the city.
What is your priority for how Appleton should utilize American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds?
We need to look at the residents that were hit hardest by the pandemic specifically low earning, working families (ALICE). These employed families work hard and earn above the federal poverty level but not enough to meet even a minimal household budget. In 2018, 34 percent of Wisconsin’s 2.4 million households were struggling to afford basic necessities across all needs of housing, child care, food, transportation, and internet access. We need to use a portion of the ARPA funds to advocate for higher working wages in the industries in which these family members are employed and to support the long standing non-profits that serve families like this every day.