Roanoke was once known for the railroads that crisscross the city’s landscape. Today, we are remaking Roanoke’s economy into one driven on innovation, creativity, and skill. To be successful we need to create opportunities for businesses to thrive and to build a workforce that can keep up with the evolving skill sets and fast changing economy of the 21st Century.
The pandemic changed everything when it comes to how and where we work. Job mobility is higher than ever and new industries are being developed at a rapid pace. With this in mind, it is important to make sure that people of any age can get training, make career moves, and can take advantage of new opportunities. This means continuing to make community college courses more affordable and resources readily available for working parents or displaced workers so they will have the tools they need to adapt and succeed.
Roanoke must continue to develop more jobs for all of its citizens by attracting new businesses by providing the environment and resources needed for growth. In order to effectively compete for new industry we must revise our current business tax code, provide relocation support to businesses, and prepare underutilized land to be redeveloped. We need to continue to cultivate our area’s reputation as a mecca for outdoor recreation in order to draw more tourism, boost our hospitality industry, and take advantage of the boom in “green” jobs and remote workers.
The most basic thing we can do to have citizens ready for the workforce is to provide the opportunity for each student to receive a world-class, quality education. We need a school system that teaches students K-12 to problem solve, be creative, and experience the languages of technology, like coding. The city should encourage public/private/nonprofit partnerships to increase the availability of affordable Pre-K and afterschool programs for working families.
To create more opportunities for our local businesses, the city should develop more walk-able village centers that act as small business hubs throughout our neighborhoods. To counter the negative effects of urban renewal, the city should look at ways to support and encourage the creation of more minority-owned businesses. Our local small businesses can also benefit from a revised business tax code and support services to help them grow their business. When the city takes bids for projects, we should give priority to businesses that call Roanoke home. The more we can do to keep money in the local economy the more we can all prosper.
Everyone in Roanoke deserves to live in a safe environment. Over the past few years, gun and violence has increased in Roanoke. This is one of our greatest challenges. Until we can adequately address the societal root causes of violent crime, we must increase the use of community policing and hire social workers to join police on certain calls. Social workers can provide a more trauma informed approach to crime mitigation while allowing police to handle the jobs for which they are specifically trained. Additionally, we should allow our public safety employees the opportunity to form unions to address wages, recruiting, working conditions, and morale at our public safety departments.
Housing is among our most basic human needs. Whether you rent or own your home, Roanoke’s property assessments and rental costs are skyrocketing. Our current affordable housing crisis will take years to overcome so Roanoke needs to start implementing new policies that create affordable homes in areas where citizens will have access to jobs, healthcare, and other essential services. Peter will prioritize improving housing opportunities by incentivizing mixed-income housing that’s connected to job centers, improving our land bank program, and expanding down payment assistance programs. Peter has shown his commitment to housing as a local Realtor and as Chair of the Roanoke Fair Housing Board, which is focused on equal opportunity for housing.
While we’ve made some strides, Roanoke’s poverty rate still hovers at 20%, meaning that we need more solutions to address the many negative effects of poverty. We need to work as a community to overcome the foundational issues that have created this situation. The city must address and work to correct the negative impacts of urban renewal and financial redlining which displaced minority families and prevented them from accumulating generational wealth. Additionally, essential city services should be placed throughout the city in public places where people already congregate (schools, libraries, etc.) and bring needed services to the under served.
True community is created when we all feel connected. Our roads, sidewalks, and transit are what connect us all. Whether we’re using them to get to school or work, grow our business, or enjoy some recreation time, we need to understand our transportation needs in order to make our infrastructure accessible and reliable. As an urban planner, Peter has experience developing mobility networks that connect neighborhoods and cities to the world. Targeted upgrades to infrastructure can create big jumps in quality of life and economic development. Peter will work to develop our mobility network by connecting our different transportation options and encouraging a better mix of transportation and land-use to reduce traffic and increase revenues.
As a representative for Roanoke City on the Roanoke Valley - Alleghany Regional Commission, Peter has worked with elected officials throughout the region to solve some of our most pressing transportation issues. Read more about what they’re up to here.
Large swaths of Roanoke’s citizens still live in food deserts. Not having access to nutritional options impacts their health, reduces their productivity, and makes it impossible for children to learn or perform in the classroom. We can overcome this current reality by working to attract supermarkets to underserved areas, supporting farmer’s markets and partnerships with organizations such as LEAP (Local Environmental Agriculture Project), and working with schools to provide healthy cooking and food education opportunities.
Peter believes a connected city is a thriving city. These days, transportation isn’t the only way to get where you’re going, sometimes you can be there virtually. That’s why we need to make sure every Roanoker has access to affordable, fast broadband internet. Peter will work with local service providers to try to reduce our high internet costs and make sure we are able to harness new 5G technologies here in the Valley. Additionally, Peter would like to see the city develop partnerships to develop its own network of low-cost internet that can be harnessed by those who can’t currently afford high-speed service.
You work hard and should be able to enjoy your time off. Roanoke is a beautiful city with many recreational opportunities, and our natural beauty and resources should be protected so we can enjoy them for many years to come. Flooding has historically been a challenge, so creating parks and streetscapes that mitigate runoff should be a priority.
Our city has a gorgeous system of rivers and streams running through it, so let’s utilize them more! Roanoke should develop old industrial sites along our waterways into more parks, housing, and businesses. By increasing our city’s greenways and bikeways we can reduce traffic and support healthier habits, while locating more housing and businesses near these new pedestrian highways.
Peter believes that the financial sustainability of the city depends on us making investments in climate change resilience. By moving the city to electric and hybrid vehicle fleets, we reduce greenhouse gasses, the amount of money the city spends at the gas pump, and protects us from volatility in the oil industry. Installing solar panels on city buildings reduces our electric bill and lessens our dependence fossil fuels. Planting trees cools the city, absorbs runoff, and improves our air quality. This is why Peter wants to invest more in making Roanoke a sustainable city.
The second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses are the buildings where we live and work. To reduce our effects on the environment, we should develop a green building code and funding sources to transition buildings to more efficient technologies. At the same time, we need to develop an electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the city for our new reality of more electric vehicles driving on our streets.
Peter also knows that to tackle challenges throughout the city, we must improve our data collection and analysis to see trends that are happening and where. This allows the city to make targeted investments to make the city more efficient and effective with our money.