Jamil Franklin, Ward 2 — Council Candidate Questions

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1. What skills do you bring to the table to help run the city more efficiently while delivering quality services to the residents of Ferguson?

My professional career working in local government throughout the St Louis County region has given me great perspective on how to run our city more efficiently.  KSAs that I possess would include budget & grant review, contract management, ordinance review and creation, partnering with other jurisdictions to achieve common goals, communication skills both written & spoken, and the ability to multitask and work with others.  I also have the temperament to work with others who do not share my vision which is critical in getting things done in all walks of life.

2. In addition to the Consent Decree, Ferguson still has a class action lawsuit pending that represents over 11,000 people who were jailed by Ferguson since 2010. How do you view these court actions considering current criticisms that the enforcement of laws is lacking in Ferguson? Should police write traffic tickets with fines to those who break traffic laws?

I believe that our police department needs to increase efforts within our entire community. The class action lawsuit and consent decree, should not mean a free for all for criminal activity.  Police should be writing traffic tickets with fines for those that break traffic laws.  We can easily determine what is excessive, and what is in line with our region, and send a message that Ferguson will not tolerate mass traffic violations.  

3. Do you believe the city council has or has not fulfilled legal and ethical obligations to operate with full transparency? If not, what needs to be done?

The current council has not been found guilty of any legal violations so they have fulfilled their legal obligations.  I will say I have observed ethical issues in the past with former members not feeling required to disclose to constituents why they voted a certain way, and Counilmembers being involved in both the legislative process and private business related to the City of Ferguson. I personally don’t think the two should mix to avoid potential conflicts of interest. 

4. Do you believe the city budget is equitable and accountable? Why or why not?

Yes. I believe the budget that the Council has approved is indeed equitable and accountable. The real question is are we allocating funds to areas in the City of Ferguson in most need?  I will defer to the residents throughout our City for that answer. 

5. Describe an ethical dilemma you have faced. How did you resolve it?

Back in 2015 I attended a St Louis County Council meeting where I spoke out about inequities in salaries as it related to race within the St Louis County Public Health Dept.  It was my opinion that black workers were paid less than our white counterparts for the same work.  Me speaking out caused a hostile work environment for me, as my comments were not greeted with much concern, but rather anger by management.  For a few years I was passed over, and in some ways discredited as an effective worker, but the work actually protected me as I continued to operate at a high level of efficiency, which led to  me being promoted for the 2nd time in 2019.  Because of it I have earned the respect and admiration from my work peers, and St Louis County has continued tweaking its hiring processes over the years. Non-Supervisory staff has also unionized within my work division to also ensure equitable pay for all.

6. What are the three top priorities the city needs to work on now to improve the quality of life for residents?

I’m going to have to give you 4.  Public safety, Traffic Control, Street Improvements, and City of Ferguson Customer Service. Residents should be able to call City Departments and get a live representative. 

7. How do you see yourself supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts as a council member? How have you been involved in DEI already?

Currently I am a member of the Health Equity team for St Louis County Public Health Dept. This has allowed for real positive policy creation within the Health Department to promote DEI. The best way to support DEI in Ferguson is to connect with people where they are.  I plan to make myself available to constituents with weekend hours, and I will continue to knock on doors after I am elected.  When neighbors get to know you, trust grows and it’s easier to get buyin to whatever you’re promoting. 

8. What are some of your ideas to improve the quality of housing in Ferguson for both multi-family and single-family homes?

Support/promote the Exterior Grant Program throughout the Cities various communities to help neighbors maintain their households. I would also push to limit the amount of low income rental properties allowed within Ferguson. History has shown us what happens to a community when it becomes overrun by low income rental property.  I would also work with Code Enforcement to identify true problem properties within our City, and push for abatement. For multifamily housing I would defer to Code Enforcement for a recommendation on best practices to ensure their owners maintain their properties. 

9. Do you support the abolishment of package liquor stores in Ferguson, leaving the current stores open but not allowing any new ones to open?

Yes

10. Do you support amending the city’s Charter to give more power to the Mayor? Why or why not?

I am indifferent.  That is a question for the people of Ferguson to decide if they want their Mayor to have more authority to act on their behalf.  As a Councilman for ward 2, I would listen and support what my constituents want. 

11. Should the council seek to have personal and real property taxes paid by residents and businesses as already stated in city ordinances? Why, or why not? Also, when should the council approve tax abatement?

Yes.  I see no need to change unless we have evidence from another jurisdiction of a more effective means to an end.  Tax abatement should be considered as it relates to the enhancement of the City of Ferguson, with oversight from the Council along with the advice of the Mayor, City Manager, and lawyer that it would be in the best interest to attract business to the area in question.  

12. What kind of role should the council take to deter juvenile crime?

I have a couple of ideas to help curve juvenile crime which I plan to share at the candidate forum. If not elected I hope the Council will still consider my ideas and I will pen an open letter to the Council for consideration with my ideas. I will say my plan centers around accountability and enforcement strategies. 

13. Large scale development has been slowing down in Ferguson over the last few years. Why do you think that is and what ideas do you have to encourage more robust development in the commercial corridors?

I don’t see this as a major issue.  Close to 20 new businesses have opened on South Florissant Rd over the last two years.  While I do miss having a hardware store in the city, I believe our commercial corridors are in decent shape and will continue to expand.  I believe inflation, and labor shortages more than anything else have affected large scale developments throughout our region. Many businesses are still short staffed and have to pay increased wages to secure their workforce. 

14. Has any candidate, during this or any past local election cycle, accepted single donations of $10k or more from out of state entities that own apartment complexes in Ferguson and, if so, why?

I have not.  My donations have come from family, friends, and neighbors.  My largest donation was $300 from my father.  I’m running a small grassroots campaign, and have not been endorsed by anyone as of yet, other than one of my opponents stating he would be voting for me if he were not running. 

15. What are the main points you want voters to remember about you and your candidacy?

I’m a product of the St Louis Community. I’m what adults said they wanted the youth of the 90s to be. I grew up in St Louis City.  Stayed away from crime, drugs and alcohol. Graduated highschool, college, and grad school. Started working in public service.  Settled down, got married in my backyard and laid roots in Ferguson, MO. If that’s not something you can support, I’m not sure what message we are truly sending to our youth!

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