LaMika “Mika” Covington, Ward 3 — 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?

  • Budget Optimization -I can help the city optimize the budget by analyzing spending patterns.
  • Communication- I have gained an understanding how committees work best from my experiences as secretary for FNIP, the President of BTC Athletic Association, and member of other church committees. I can work well with others and communicate effectively. 
  • New Ideas- I enjoy being able to work as a team to develop solutions to complex problems while not allowing disagreements to prevent getting things done for the greater good.

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?

It is important that police officers write tickets and enforce the law. I do support law and order, and I also believe in constitutional, fair, and impartial law enforcement. We must give the tools to our police department to prevent and fight crime while keeping a high level of transparency.  When criminals know that they can come into Ferguson and break the law without any consequences that makes Ferguson a very dangerous place to live. We need to fix that, and I will fight for that as your next Ward 3 council member.

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?

As a group I would say no.  Work as a team on what is best for Ferguson.  Work more with the community to build trust, respond in a timely manner, really listen, and work on the resident’s concerns.  Do the work of the city as much as possible in the open forum, not in endless closed sessions. Work with the community and with the residents, not just present things that make you look good in the public eye.

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

No, I think a fresh pair of eyes will help with the budget. Just because you have always done something a certain way does not make it the best way forever or for our city.  Spending priorities are something I think the city needs to address line-by-line in the budget. I resolve to push for that and ask the hard questions that will help ensure our budget is properly and fairly allocated.

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

I am a black woman with a good career and as a single parent I have faced discrimination on several fronts.  I have always had to have a strong voice in those difficult or uncomfortable situations.  Being able to show a person with a sexist or racist view that a black woman can make a difference and change things for the better has been a challenge I rise to.  I am living proof that a single parent can raise two strong, smart, and respectable children.  As for resolving the ethical dilemma, this is having those difficult conversations, showing people what I am about, and proving that they can trust me to work with them for the greater good. Finding common ground and finding that support system in my Ferguson Community is very important to me.

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

  • The safety of the residents – Not being able to take a walk and feel safe in our community has lowered the standard of living for our residents.
  • Crime and the repeated break-ins to our business, homes, and vehicles.
  • Traffic enforcement-too many cars are driving recklessly, speeding, running red lights and damaging property in Ferguson with no regards for anyone’s life.  This must be stopped. The community residents must trust that the City officials and leaders are listening and creating action plans to address these issues.  Council must strive to make the improvements we need in Ferguson and hold staff accountable to carry them out.

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?

I promote DEI in every project that I am involved in, it is a must for me, professionally and personally.  Our community is made up of many different races and genders.  In City hiring practice I would promote that the city workforce is reflective of the community it serves.  Everyone deserves to be heard and treated with respect. I would also support programs that promote equity and opportunity for our community, affordable housing initiatives and community development projects.

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

Supporting the FNIP program is a great start. Making sure more people are aware of the program and what they have to offer. The FNIP programs have something for almost every homeowner that they can benefit from right now.  Between FNIP and the City combined they have a new homeowner assistance program, derelict housing demolition, dangerous tree removal program, citywide nuisance abatement programs through the Missouri Abandoned Housing Act, and assistance programs to help seniors age in place. FNIP has developed low-income versions of their programs and are in the process of developing more programs to help not only low-income, but all Ferguson homeowners. By supporting and expanding programs like this, we can achieve the goal to make Ferguson beautiful.

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, I do not believe we need any additional liquor stores in our City.

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

I cannot answer that question without knowing what kind of power we are talking about giving the mayor and what checks and balances would be coupled with the amendment. Would this be a benefit for Ferguson or not?  In general, I believe most powers of the Charter should reside with the City Council as a whole.  When power is granted to one individual, it can lead to abuse. 

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. Again, this is already in the city ordinances, so I am not sure why this is a problem. This is revenue for Ferguson, so why would we not want residents and businesses to pay their taxes.  I am always open to hear other thoughts on why they think residents and businesses should or should not pay their taxes. I do not oppose or fully support tax abatement, but I would have to review each project and its merits and the impact it will have on the city, both positive and negative, before approving an abatement.  All abatements can have consequences, but some can be beneficial.  We cannot let large corporations just assume we will continue to grant huge tax breaks in our city.

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

This is a parental and a community role. My thoughts are how much energy are we putting into these kids before it gets to the point that all they have time and energy for is committing a crime.  We need to help them see the different opportunities and give them a place to feel safe after school and on the weekends.  Offer them somewhere to play sports, learn a skill and be around other positive kids.  If we can’t keep them from that life of crime, they must understand there are consequences for their actions.  I do know the point system is not working. Here is one thought, maybe make them serve some community service hours as a start.  I know this will not solve all the problems with juvenile crime, but it is a start.

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 would say our history (our reputation), current crime levels, lack of interest in developing, and no long-term programs for development. This coupled with lack of interest from commercial lenders are some reasons we have slowed development.  That being said, a lot of small businesses have moved to Ferguson.  People are still buying homes in Ferguson.  We are growing, maybe not as fast as we would like, but I believe with the positive things we have in place now and with more in the pipeline, we will see more development in the future.

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 no idea what other candidates have received. I can speak to my campaign contributions.  They have all been small in size and all from North County residents.

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

I am coming to you with a fresh set of eyes.  I want a safer Ferguson for all of us.  I am on board with helping our youth and building a stronger future for them.  I am a listener.  I am in this for the long run. I look forward to communicating with residents on what resources Ferguson has available and how our community can benefit from them.

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