Name: Jamie Fulmer
Past political experience: Spartanburg City Council-District 2018-present
How do you define equity and how does that translate into how you approach financial, programmatic, and policy decisions?
To me, equity means that we apply the principles of fairness and justice to every decision we make. We need to recognize that no two citizens in our community have the same circumstances and to create opportunities for all we must ensure that our efforts are focused on creating better outcomes across the board. This means doing what we can to remove barriers and obstacles so that everyone has a chance at economic mobility and better health and wellness outcomes. The data in the Racial Equity Index paints a clear picture that we must be intentional in our work if we are going to move the needle for many in our city. Since I have joined the council, we have engaged in many different programs and projects that directly address these issues including the city’s Comprehensive Plan, the Highland Transformation plan, the affordability components to new multi-family housing projects, and the recent investment in the Hello family initiative.
What can the city do to make downtown a more welcoming environment for Black and Brown residents, visitors and entrepreneurs?
In the coming months, we will be engaging with the community on how we can re-imagine Morgan Square which will affect the arc of downtown for the future. To get this right, we need to have broad stakeholder engagement not only in the design but also in the programmatic components that will appeal to a diverse and culturally rich audience so that our downtown is a place where everyone feels welcome. Over the past 20 years, we have made great progress in this area. We have thriving food and beverage industry, a successful retail environment, and white-collar employment; resulting in a renewed vitality not seen before in my lifetime. Also, our downtown is enhanced by its designation as a cultural district which created an environment for artists, galleries, museums, public art displays, and performers to flourish. In addition to any future design improvements we make downtown, we should continue to pursue strategies on amenities and programs that facilitate a more inclusive environment to appeal to a more diverse audience and support efforts to encourage and sustain minority-owned businesses in our downtown.
As the city continues to attract economic development, what proactive steps can the city take to protect neighborhoods from gentrification?
As we work to make improvements in our city and revitalize neighborhoods throughout Spartanburg, Community input is essential. Efforts such as our Northside Initiative, our Highland Transformation Plan, and the Beaumont Village Neighborhood Plan are all examples of this. Currently, we are working as a community on our city’s Comprehensive Plan which will help chart the course for our city over the next decade or so. As our city grows our housing stock is evolving with more townhomes, apartments, and mixed-use developments. We need to update our zoning ordinance to accommodate this changing dynamic and to make sure we can accommodate higher density housing that facilitates investment to help address our needs for both rental and owner-occupied housing. Also, our existing stock is aging and, in some cases, decaying. We need to address dilapidation and blight with a continued focus on code enforcement and support investment in rehabilitating aging and declining properties. We need to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods, provide safe sidewalks and roadways, connect residents with their schools, jobs, and other critical services, and provide recreational activities.
List three steps the city can take to help combat gun violence.
The issue of Gun violence in our country or city will not be solved in three steps. It is a complex problem with no magic answer. Addressing this problem will require the participation and collaboration of just about every aspect of our community. Broadly speaking, the city’s role should focus on:
Spartanburg is a welcoming community with a rich and diverse cultural legacy where individuals of all nationalities are appreciated. We live in a global economy, and we need to make sure that companies all over the world know that Spartanburg is a great place to invest their capital and operate their business. We should continue to focus on events and programming that celebrate international culture and diversity (International Festival, Hispanic Heritage Month, etc.). We should also continue to embrace and support our vibrant community of international restaurants throughout the city.
How should the city move forward with public transit and the development of complete streets and pedestrian safe zones within its footprints, and what opportunities do see for collaboration with the county outside of the city limits?
We should continue to work collaboratively with our partners and the county, state, and federal levels to find ways we can better connect people with their jobs, schools, and vital services. This means making improvements to our Sparta bus system, supporting the new Vanpool program, implementing design changes to our streets to ensure safety, improving lighting, calm traffic, and encouraging more pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Also, as our city grows, we need to plan a transportation infrastructure that can accommodate increased traffic and activity not only in our downtown but through all our major arteries.
What measure(s) should the city put in place to continue combatting COVID-19, and should the city use its resources to help ease the burden on schools within the city limits?
We have put in place mask and social distance requirements in all city-owned facilities, canceled events as appropriate, encouraged and incentivized city employees to get vaccinated, and tried to support our local medical community in educating our residents about the importance of these steps in stopping the spread of this pandemic. As for schools in the city, they are governed by separately elected bodies who are charged with developing their own policies and procedures and we will do everything we can to support them. Additionally, executive orders, court rulings, and other policies put in place at the federal and state level may ultimately affect how we respond going forward. The good news is that in the last three weeks or so we seemed to have turned a corner. Vaccination rates are slowly increasing, and the FDA is close to approving vaccines for children between the ages of 5-12. Over the past month in Spartanburg, we have seen a significant drop in the number of new positive cases and a dramatic reduction in the number of people in the hospital and ICU.
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