2023 Candidate Questionnaire on
City Council Candidate Response: Emily Keeler
City Council Candidate Response: Emily Keeler
What would you like Grandview residents to know about your background, as it relates to the environment, climate, and conservation? If applicable, please describe any relevant educational, career, or service experience you have.
On council I have supported sustainable legislation, having sponsored PACE (which I had started working on in 2016 when I first came to council, and brought to fruition with residents and my colleague, Melanie Houston), worked with administration to bring composting including organizing trips to compost facilities and working with finance to fit it in the budget. I have also been very active and vocal in the multimodal transportation and mass transit worlds, advocating and sponsoring legislation for walk and bike infrastructure, and even testifying at the state level against proposed legislation that would have a negative impact. Additionally, I serve as Grandview Heights’ representative on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), the MORPC Sustainability Advisory Board, and the working group, coordinating committee, and leadership committee for the LinkUS Transit Supportive Infrastructure Initiative.
On a personal note, I love the Earth! I compost in my backyard. We are a one-car household and I usually walk, bike, or take the bus to where I need to go. Most of my clothing comes from thrift stores or estate sales and I live for reuse of objects. Perhaps I inherited this from my Grandparents who grew up during the Depression? I knit my own dishcloths, hats, and mittens and try to avoid plastics when possible. I also can items from my vegetable garden and use canning, freezing, and other food preservation systems to avoid food waste. One of my favorite ways to make my lunch is with my solar oven.
- Position on Climate Change
Do you believe there is a climate crisis? If yes, to what extent can and should local government take action to address it?
Yes. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) most recent report, we continue on our path to warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, the main culprit being carbon emissions. I think everyone – local, state, federal, governments and each individual have a responsibility to help make our world better.
- Issue 23
For the upcoming November election, Grandview will vote on Issue 23, which, if passed, will bring 100% renewable energy to residences and businesses in our city. Do you support Issue 23?
Yes. Council voted unanimously to put this on the ballot. I have a sign in my yard. I was not able to volunteer at the Grandview Hop due to previous commitments.
- Reducing carbon emissions
Beyond Issue 23, what steps, if any, should Grandview Heights take to collectively reduce our carbon emissions? Some possible questions to address include: Should the City electrify its vehicle fleet? Will you commit to advocating to install solar at our municipal building and/or other City sites?
The City actually looked into purchasing electrical or hybrid vehicles during our last bidding phase and because of the high demand and recovery in the supply chain after the pandemic, there were not any of these cars available (we have to purchase through a governmental program).
I fully support solar and other renewable energy sources. The new Municipal Building has many features that make it much more efficient such as a new HVAC, double paned windows, LED lights, smart lighting, more efficient workflow, raingarden, and saving many of the trees currently on the site. Reducing the overall energy need is a great way to reduce your imprint. There are several sustainable line items options that we are currently pricing to see what options we can add in now and what might have to wait until later, including researching alternative funding sources. However, we are constructing the building so that we can help make a future installation easier.
Describe the importance of our community’s parks, greenspace, and tree canopy. As an elected official, what specific steps would you take, if any, to preserve and/or expand these local assets? As one example, should the city commit to planting primarily/exclusively native species of trees/plants?
Parks are one of the wonderful things about Grandview Heights! The old municipal site will revert to parkland and in the near future we will begin another parks plan with lots of community input to see what the next chapter has in store. Our new park on First Avenue by the schools is a blank canvas waiting to happen and we cannot wait to see what the plan feedback tells us.
The City, as a Tree City USA, has been long committed to a tree canopy. The Grandview Yard was a huge win in this area, with hundreds of trees being planted in an area that previously was warehouses and parking lots with no canopy at all. Additionally, the City has already updated its tree list to remove invasive species like the Bradford Pear and is actively working to remove remaining City Bradford Pears and replace them with a native or non-invasive species. One of my first orders of business in 2024 would also be to update the zoning code to remove milkweed as a weed and add to the list things like poison hemlock.
Describe your views and/or policy positions on transportation in Grandview. What should the City’s priorities be in this domain? Please share any specific ideas or proposals related to pedestrian and bicycle routes, public transit, and/or electric vehicle infrastructure.
I love walking and biking and anybody who knows me I walk just about everywhere when I can. This is what first got me involved in local government. I was on the Transportation Advisory Group that helped create the first ever bike plan for the City, and I sponsored the legislation to have it approved when I was elected and sworn into council. I also helped to do a letter-writing campaign for letters of support for an OPWC grant for the new bridge on Third Avenue which created the first sidewalk and shared use path under this bridge and making it so much easier to connect safely to the Olentangy Trail. I am also serving on the working groups for the LinkUS Transit Supportive Infrastructure Committees. These groups are looking at walk and bike infrastructure that would help get people from their homes, jobs, or schools to the proposed COTA BRT that will be on the ballot next fall. I think making the connections to the Olentangy Trail and Scioto Trail safer are a priority because of how much of Central Ohio these two trails connect to schools, businesses, and attractions.
- Solid Waste
What are your positions on trash, food waste, recycling, and litter? Should we expand our composting program to include curbside pickup? What else, if anything, can Grandview do better in these domains, and what specific policies or programs will you pursue if elected?
I spearheaded composting and worked with the current and former administration to bring the current program to Grandview Heights. While I enjoy the idea of curbside, the drop off program is wildly popular and we would have to extensively study if we are just trading food waste for carbon emissions from the vehicles driving around to pick up waste as well as if the financial cost is feasible. I think encouraging closed-system composters in yards (to keep out rats and other animals) and promoting food preservation at home would be more cost effective and overall better for the environment. I myself have a closed composter in my backyard. I would like to get a program started next year at Wallace to work with gardeners who ‘quit’ their garden to find volunteers to keep harvesting the food and donate to a local pantry so it doesn’t go to waste, or even hold preservation classes around canning, freezing, or dehydrating so that food doesn’t' go to waste from your garden or your kitchen. It helps the environment and your pocket book!
- Single-use Plastics
To what extent do you believe that single-use plastics, such as food utensils, bags, take-out containers, and straws, are harming the environment? What can Grandview Heights do, if anything, to reduce the production and distribution of these items?
This area is something that I actually think business, for the most part, is correcting itself. Most of the places in Grandview Heights that I visit, or even in the adjacent areas, have switched to paper bags, compostable straws or no straws, and reuseable flatware. It’s better for business. Lots of places also offer discounts for bringing in your own cup. However, this is always an area we can research more.
- Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins, such as lead and coal tar, pose significant threats to human health. What should Grandview’s role be, if any, in mitigating the presence of these toxins in our air, homes, businesses, and waterways?
In Central Ohio, our waterways are a gem! All of our rivers and lakes are not only great for drinking water, but are a way to enjoy the outdoors. I think the US and Ohio EPA should be spearheading efforts to protect our waterways, and would need to research what impacts Grandview Heights can have. The City has done a lot of work with sewers to improv our waterways. Additionally, we are installing a rain garden that doubles as a safety measure on the new municipal building so that water can filter instead of going into drains. I admit, I am not up-to-date on the use of coal tar issue and would need to research how much this is impacting our City and what we can do to assist in this area. I look forward to working with Sustainable Grandview and experts in the field to learn more.