Candidate Q&A – Adela Yelton, Avondale Estates City Commission
Decaturish.com contacted every candidate running for office in Decatur and Avondale Estates and provided them with a list of questions. Adela Yelton is running for election to the Avondale Estates City Commission.
Here are her responses:
1) Why are you running for this position?
I am running for City Commissioner because I care about the Avondale Estates community and neighbors. This is the place where I choose to raise a family. I’ve worked in leadership roles that positively impact the community, including helping to create a charter school. I look forward to continuing to serve fellow residents and be part of shaping the city’s promising future.
2) What makes you the most qualified candidate for the job?
Avondale Estates needs leaders who can balance the desire of preserving the city’s character while also moving the city forward into the next phase of growth. One of my strengths is bringing people together around a common goal and taking concepts from vision to reality – whether through starting a business or helping build a school. I also spent 20 years working in accounting and human resources, leading teams through change and managing budgets. I look forward to leveraging those skills to move Avondale Estates closer to the city’s vision.
3) Proposals to annex more property into the city of Avondale Estates could be revisited over the next four years. Do you support annexing more property into the city?
Without major commercial property included in any proposal plans, I’m not convinced that residential property annexation makes sense right now. And for any future proposals that come our way, I want clarity around the purpose behind annexation. If the purpose is to raise net city revenues, I’d like to see a more detailed analysis including both tangible and intangible costs and challenge ourselves to consider other revenue options.
4) As a city commissioner, what will you do to support and improve educational opportunities in the city of Avondale Estates?
Quality educational options for families go hand-in-hand with local economic development and both are key to the long-term health of this community.
As a founding member of The Museum School’s governing board, I have seen firsthand the tremendous positive impact that a group of inspired parents and neighborhood supporters can have on a community. It begins with sharing information about our public, private and alternative school options and building relationships and advocating for our children’s best interests. I’ll advocate for the city to increase support of volunteers who already are making inroads and building relationships with the schools in our neighborhood, and I enthusiastically support the city’s creation of the newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on Education.
5) The development of the Euramex project will be a big issue facing city leaders over the next four years. Do you have any concerns about this development, and what will you do to ensure it balances the needs of the developer with the needs of residents?
Toward the dual goals of development and preservation, I respect and appreciate all of the extensive efforts achieved so far by city commissioners and residents in the Downtown Master Plan and updates. I want to build on these efforts and get super clear about who we are as a city and what we want as priorities. That includes advocating for real mixed-use development and green space as outlined in our zoning ordinances. I’ll also look at ways to consistently get input and communicate priorities in a transparent way to all parties involved
6) The downtown business district has grown over the last few years. As a commissioner, what will you do to support the continued development and growth of the downtown business district?
Our local businesses are the heart and soul of downtown development. As part of my commissioner campaign, our team started a blog “Opening the Conversation’ linked to social media which highlights the uniqueness of Avondale’s businesses and residents. The blog is just one example of how we can harness the talents of our busy volunteers to support our city’s businesses. Increasing the role and funding of the Downtown Development Authority with a clear mission and vision will be a critical part of that support. I’d also propose to look at other cities to see what they are doing to successfully support and develop their business districts through public and private partnerships.
7) What do you think Avondale Estates should do to address the need for additional parking near the downtown business district?
Parking, signage and way-finding are important to our downtown development – it helps people reach and enjoy the products and services of our local businesses. I think the city has taken some positive first steps by making a map available of current parking spaces and adding some signage. I also think we should look at parking plans in the context of overall downtown development and involve all of the stakeholders to discuss and agree on a parking solution that considers the needs of everyone.
8) Over the last few years, concerns have arisen about the level of transparency from city officials. Do you have concerns about the transparency of Avondale’s government? If so, what would you do to make city government more transparent and accountable to residents?
I will commit to increased transparency and encourage innovative ways for opening the conversation to residents, helping us to keep honestly informed about city business. I know people are busy and cannot always attend evening city meetings. I’d like to consider targeted e-surveys or ‘pulse checks’ for major issues that help commissioners get timely feedback from our citizens and use that information to help guide major decisions.
9) Avondale Estates is a historic district. Do you support the current historic preservation standards, or do you think they need to be revisited?
Based upon what I know so far, the historic preservation standards seem to be serving the community well in maintaining the city’s character and architectural vision. If there is a growing concern from our residents or businesses about this issue, I’m open to hearing about any specific ordinances and their potential impact.
10) What are your feelings about the current effort to upgrade and renovate Willis Park?
Having quality and enhanced green space that serves the needs of our residents is in line with the City’s vision. I support the current renovation and enhancement efforts of Willis Park. The enhancements will offer yet another place for people of all ages and abilities to come together, connect, and share in the beauty and aesthetics of the park.
11) If elected, do you promise to behave in an ethical and transparent manner?
Yes, I do. My family and I live by the golden rule which has served us well: Treat others as you would like to be treated. You can also expect these three things from me and I expect this in others: (1) to respectfully listen, (2) to stay positive and solution-oriented, and (3) to be clear about the next steps. I also want to say ‘thank you’ and I encourage Avondale residents to please vote on November 3.
The election is Nov. 3 and early voting begins on Oct. 12.