Candidate Q&A: Robert Cameron, Saline City Council

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Note to readers: The Sun Times News has made its media outlet available to candidates running for public office. Articles published do not reflect an endorsement by the STN. Submissions are from candidates who responded within our guidelines. In order to be as fair and equitable as possible, candidates can submit their responses to four basic questions.

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why are you running?
  3. What issues do you think are important?
  4. Why should we vote for you?

Candidate’s responses are printed as submitted.

Who are you?

My name is Robert Cameron, an artist and designer who has lived in Saline for 11 years. I work as a multimedia designer at the University of Michigan’s Office of Enrollment Management. I have two master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Urban Design from U-M, and I have served on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Belleville, Michigan. I live with my wife, Amy, a Benefits Specialist at ITHAKA in Ann Arbor, and stepson Sean, student at Michigan State University.

Why are you running?

I am running because I want to partner with the citizens of Saline to help build a resilient and successful place to live. We all want a city of locally-owned businesses, inclusive housing opportunities, and walkable streets. However, many of our current city policies and zoning codes are no longer achieving these goals. The last few decades have seen a reliance on car-centric development that makes our historic town more suburban. In fact, the historic neighborhoods of Saline’s center would be illegal to build today under current zoning codes. Saline’s historic charm is a great foundation that can be expanded upon in order to create a more enjoyable future for everyone.

What issues do you think are important?

Economic growth:
Establishing a small-business-friendly culture will ensure Saline’s long-term strength. We should be open to new business modes such as pop-up shops and increasing retail in local neighborhoods that will allow business owners to locate closer to customers (especially needed in an era where an increasing number of people are working from home).

Building livable neighborhoods: The last few decades of Saline’s growth has brought increased traffic. Michigan Avenue is too congested with cars and trucks making it an unpleasant and loud environment.

Moreover, sidewalks, non-motorized paths, and safe crosswalks are lifelines for our citizens who are users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters and are often an afterthought. We should seek a more balanced approach to transportation that will be more equitable as well as having the effect of improving the aesthetic look of Saline.

Planning for the future: Our current zoning has only resulted in adding sprawl to our community. This creates a domino effect. As the distance between buildings increases so does traffic congestion and infrastructure costs. Updates to our zoning code allowing for more mixed-use, decreasing lot size, and eliminating parking requirements are just a few simple and easily achievable measures we can implement to improve the social and climate health of our city.

Additionally, Saline has the third most expensive housing market in Washtenaw county. We need to seek ways of expanding the real estate market in order to allow a variety of housing types and sizes. This will make it easier for younger people to enter the housing market and allow our seniors to grow old age in place.

Taking action on climate change:
While climate change is a global problem, local governments also have a lot of power to create climate policies. In fact, the ideas I’ve outlined here will also have the benefit of being a more environmentally friendly way to grow our town.

Why should we vote for you?

I believe I will be a great help to Salinians and build a more resilient and people-forward future for their city. I am running because I want to be part of the dialogue about how we move forward and create a more sustainable and inclusive city so we will continue to be a great place in the future.

Images: Robert Cameron. Courtesy of Robert Cameron.

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