2021 Candidate Questionnaire on
Candidate Responses: Michelle Kozak
Candidate Responses: Michelle Kozak
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.
I attended several of the early Sustainable Grandview meetings at Luck Bros and Figlio many years ago and have long been a proponent of environmental issues. Almost ten years ago I purchased my Prius, and I hope to get an electric vehicle in the coming years. My husband and I both take advantage of Grandview’s recycling program and have very little trash each week as a result. For over a decade I have been composting at home and also started using the composting bins provided by the city and Compost Clubhouse. Over the years I’ve planted trees around our house and have removed most of the grass in favor of perennials for carbon capture and to conserve water. We have three rain barrels and two- 1 gallon per flush toilets that have helped to significantly reduce our water consumption. We are interested in getting solar panels in the next couple of years. I started my pastry business, Pâtisserie Lallier, twelve years ago and within a year or two I was able to find packaging that is biodegradable and compostable, something that is very important to me.
- Priorities, Values, and Philosophy
To what extent do environmental concerns drive your priorities as a citizen and candidate for City Council? Please share your philosophy and values as they relate to the environment and sustainability.
As I mentioned above, I am very focused on helping the environment through different routes. Given the climate crisis we are experiencing, I would prioritize environmental concerns for the city as I do in my personal life.
I know the administration is working on the design of the new municipal building, and I would advocate for sustainable features such as solar panels, water efficiency, green energy, etc. I would also support adding these features to existing city structures/facilities. Having a dense tree canopy around city buildings would help with energy efficiency as well as carbon absorption. The city should also create a plan to switch all city vehicles to electric.
Describe the importance of our community’s parks, greenspace, and tree canopy to you. As a City Council member, what steps would you take, if any, to preserve and/or expand these local assets?
I walk several times a week and usually gravitate towards the parks and greenspaces to feel more connected with nature. Research has shown that the more trees and greenspace a community has, the better the health outcomes for its residents. I would advocate for maintaining and adding to the parks, green spaces, and tree population we currently have. With the increasing population density as well as climate change, more trees would help buffer noise pollution and absorb carbon from the atmosphere. A recent FLOW (Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed) study found that Grandview has a low tree canopy – about half what Bexley has. I would like us to set goals like the city of Columbus has, to address this issue.
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.
Given the number of pedestrians and bicyclists in our community, I would focus on safety issues. I live not far from High Bank Distillery and would like to see some crosswalks similar to the one between the Community Center and Wyman Woods (which uses small solar panels), set up to encourage people to cross the street safely instead of jaywalking. I know there have been some issues around the schools and at the First Avenue/Grandview Avenue intersection. Hopefully the crossing guards and increased police presence at peak travel times will help prevent future accidents.
My husband and I have both witnessed some near misses with young people on bicycles, and I would encourage the city to offer a defensive bicycling class. People driving cars don’t always stop at crosswalks, and alleys, though often less travelled than roadways, aren’t free from possible issues. Adding bicycle lanes on First Avenue would help, but I don’t think the street is wide enough to accommodate those and the parked cars.
We first moved to Grandview when we were in graduate school and didn’t have a car, and we relied on the COTA busses to get us to OSU and downtown to our teaching jobs at Columbus State. I would always advocate for the bus service to continue through Grandview.
Recently I opened an account at Pathways Financial Credit Union, and I inquired about the electric car chargers out front. They are free to Pathways’ members, and in searching on Chargehub.com I found a few others around Grandview. I spoke with someone in the administration about this, and they are going to have a charging station at the new municipal building and are considering other locations around the city. If they made chargers available around town it would give those who don’t have a driveway or somewhere to install a charger at their home (like us), the ability to purchase an electric vehicle and have a place to charge it.
- Solid Waste
What are your positions on trash, food waste, recycling, litter, and single-use plastics? What, if anything, can Grandview do better in these domains, and what specific policies or programs would you pursue as a member of Council?
I am an avid recycler/composter. After working on the trash/recycling detail at The Ox Roast last week, I would like to see a composting option added to all future community events. We could have volunteers to assist people with sorting their trash into the correct bins. At these citywide events we should also ban plastic bags and single-use plastics in favor of compostable options.
The food vendors at the Portland, Oregon Farmers’ Market use actual plates and silverware to serve the food, and there are stations throughout the market where people can leave the dirty dishes after they’ve eaten. They also have water coolers set up to encourage people to bring their own water bottles and refill them as needed. The plates/silverware idea might be a goal to aspire to, but the water cooler idea could be implemented now at community events. If the city doesn’t already have the new type of water fountains with a water bottle filler that many airports now have, it would be good to make plans for them in all of the parks.
I think council should follow Bexley’s lead in passing an ordinance that prohibits plastic bags and single-use plastics from being used at businesses and city facilities in Grandview.
It would be great if we could expand the composting program to include curbside pickup for all residents the same way recycling is done now, i.e., available to everyone without them having to opt in/pay separately.
I recently attended a SWACO Recycle Right webinar that I found incredibly useful. There are several items I didn’t know were recyclable that I can now start recycling. I think the city should promote this monthly class and regularly remind residents of what can and can’t be recycled.
- Renewable Resources
Renewable electricity is now cost-competitive with traditional sources of electricity – and it continues to trend downward in price. Do you support joining other leading Central Ohio cities – including Columbus, Bexley and Grove City – in giving Grandview residents and businesses the choice of cost-competitive, 100% renewable electricity?
It would be wonderful if Grandview would use 100% renewable electricity in all city buildings as well as offering this option to residents and businesses. While solar panels on homes are cost prohibitive for many, this option would allow more people to help make an impact on slowing climate change.
- Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins, such as lead and coal tar, pose significant threats to human health. What should Grandview’s role be in mitigating the presence of these toxins in our air, homes, businesses, and waterways?
I attended a presentation by Brian Will from Sustainable Grandview and Councilwoman Melanie Houston on the topic of coal tar sealants used on driveways and parking lots. I would like to see legislation passed that would require residents to apply for a permit when looking to seal their driveways. This would allow the city to ensure that substances like asphalt or concrete are being used instead of the toxic coal tar sealant which is a carcinogen. I understand that Councilwoman Houston is also working to have lead pipes removed from our community, an effort I support. Our city government should be taking a pro-active approach to ensuring its residents are kept safe from contaminants like these.