"I want to empower our communities to tap into government services to survive and thrive. Our neighborhoods would benefit from services that focus on increased livable wages, affordable housing, increased community education, improved public safety, food security expansion, business development and economic development.
I know what it takes to prioritize and find solutions to these challenges.
Additionally, together we can navigate complex government agencies and get things done."
- Vanessa Cullins-Hopkins
PLATFORM OF SIX PLANKS
1) NEIGHBORHOOD PRIDE
Everyone should feel safe walking in their neighborhood regardless of the time of the day. All of us, individuals and families, should feel a sense of pride in our neighborhoods. In District 10, we want to ensure that sheriff's watch and patrols from the sheriff's office are providing us with continuous protection. With increased accessibility, we can enhance relationships between residents and neighborhood patrol officers. One of our longterm goals is to have officers on bikes to patrol our neighborhoods.
Neighborhood pride also focuses on blight reduction. This translates into cleaner surroundings such as neighborhood yards and reduced litter. Additionally, we would prioritize City of Jacksonville (COJ) blight programs that focus on neighborhood cleanup events for which the Neighborhood Services Office can provide tools for neighborhood cleanup.
2) BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Every new and existing minority business should have the opportunity to thrive. Did you know that the City of Jacksonville (COJ) New Supplier Portal is live? Any small business in District 10 interested in doing business with COJ must be listed in this portal. One of my goals is to make sure all small businesses in northwest Jacksonville that have the capacity to provide services to COJ are part of the JSEB program.
Additionally, COJ should be helping with attracting larger businesses into the commercial and industrial zones in District 10. With the city's help, we can connect minority businesses with existing city services and opportunities. The KingSoutel Crossing Community Redevelopment Area should serve as a phenomenal resource. As a council member, I will make sure this resource becomes more utilized.
We need to collaboratively build outreach between our communities and city of Jacksonville programs and departments.
3) AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Our focus should be neighborhood appreciation not deterioration. A goal for our neighborhoods is steady increase in home property value.
I believe in HUD’s mission to provide: “A DECENT, SAFE AND SANITARY HOME AND SUITABLE LIVING ENVIRONMENT FOR EVERY AMERICAN”. I add to that directive that the home is aesthetically pleasing because everyone likes and respects “pretty”. All homes, including low and moderate income homes, can be and should be “pretty”.
For most of us, our houses are the first step in achieving true family wealth. This requires regular home maintenance to ensure quality housing. The City of Jacksonville (COJ) has programs to help seniors maintain their property. COJ also has programs to help finance the down payment for first time homeowners. All of us should take advantage of COJ programs for which we may qualify. Our taxes pay for these programs. One way to access these services in through the COJ's MyJax mobile app site or call 904.630.2489. Use this mobile app to report neighborhood concerns such as blight, potholes, missed and garbage collections.
4) FOOD SECURITY
Duval County has one of the highest rates of food insecurity. During the pandemic, food banks were drastically affected which led to less donations and supply shortages. Rising costs in grocery stores have made it more difficult for families to eat nutritious food. To keep our communities at the forefront, we will need to partner with impactful organizations such as the Center for Nutrition and Food Security. This will help communities, including youth, families, and seniors know which services they qualify for.
Together let's empower ourselves to utilize and expand community gardens.
5) COMMUNITY EDUCATION
Each community should be aware of education opportunities that are offered after school and during the summer. Programs such as Don't Miss A Beat and Hope Alliance are great examples of a few. Establishing coalitions would allow for these collaborations to organically foster. Agencies like CPAC, for example, could make informed recommendation to the mayor. Collaboration between individuals, families and existing government agencies would be a great starting point.
6) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Job expansion and creating a competitive business environment should be a key priority for Jacksonville's city leaders - which means the mayor and city council. This is one of the reasons I am running for city council. I have the capacity to authentically represent what you tell me is important to you.
The health of the economy is multi-layered, however it starts with increased collaboration among city agencies and entities such as KingSoutel Crossing CRA, Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund, Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, Urban League and LISC. Economic growth in Jacksonville requires a dedicated focus from key stakeholders to effectively strategize and build on previous efforts. These key stakeholders always need to hear from you. I want to convey what you want to say.
This strategy will require coalition building. Additionally, we will need a thorough assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of our existing economy, a thorough workforce development strategy and a sustainable plan to help small businesses thrive. This definitely requires the mayor and city council. District 10 cannot be left out of this.