Ce Ce Gerlach for Allentown City Council, Ce Ce Gerlach, Allentown, City Council

The Issues 

COMMUNITY

Neighborhoods First

The growth on Hamilton Street in the NIZ has been good, but it has not lifted all boats as promised. The surrounding neighborhoods downtown have been neglected, the Eastside has been forgotten, and the Southside been ignored. Tall, shiny buildings and fancy new restaurants will not save Allentown. The City needs a complete paradigm shift in how we think about development and the people effected. Allentown residents should have a seat at the table and be part of decisions that have a direct impact on their neighborhood. Ce-Ce wants to increase resident’s access to government.

If elected to City Council Ce-Ce will fight to:

  • Establish Neighborhood Boards that have decision making power about what happens in their neighborhood
  • Create mixed income communities and decrease displacement of hardworking long-time residents
  • Conduct community needs assessments throughout the city
  • Invest and develop forgotten parts of the City including the Southside, Eastside, West End and sections of Center City 
  • Increase the number of Land Banks so that the wealth stays in the community
  • Increase affordable housing so that hardworking folks do not have to choose between rent/mortgage and food
  • Set up guard rails for developers to ensure that projects in special tax zones do not hurt communities
  • Enforce current ordinances for noise, trash and parking
  • Enforce the Disruptive Conduct Report procedure
  • Increase focus on alleys (half streets) where much of the crime, trash and vandalism occurs
  • Improve neighborhood’s access to resources such as grocery stores, healthcare, banks, pharmacies, childcare
  • Create a comfortable, vibrant, safe business district where visitors can spend the day browsing unique shops
SCHOOLS

The success of our City depends on the strength of our School District. As a leader on the School Board, Ce-Ce is uniquely positioned to increase the collaboration between the City and the District. There are currently 23 schools spanning across the city. These buildings are underutilized by the community. The City needs space for recreation and educational programs for youth, adults, and seniors. Ce-Ce has a vision of our schools serving as the hub within our communities. Schools have the potential to serve as places for residents to search for jobs online, learn how to cook healthy meals, learn English, hold community meetings and so much more.

Ce-Ce proposes the following:

  • Improve City collaboration with the School District which will eliminate replication of services, increased access to revenue streams and save taxpayers money
  • Implement School-Based Community Revitalization which will create stable, safe and livable communities around schools
  • Grow our own teachers, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers 
  • Start a City Gang Prevention Taskforce in collaboration with the School District, Police and other agencies 
JOBS

 One of the most effective ways to uplift our neighborhoods is to improve the economic situation for individual residents. All neighborhoods should have access to high-quality Employment/Training Centers. There are many blighted properties and schools within neighborhoods that could serve as satellite centers for CareerLink. Ce-Ce knows that a good paying job is a difference between paying the mortgage and putting food on the table or not.

 

You can count on Ce-Ce to:

  • Provide qualified Allentown residents with the first opportunity to apply by encouraging and providing incentives to businesses 
  • Establish neighborhood job and technical centers in Allentown
  • Support Allentown Only Job Fairs 
  • Support small businesses through mentorship, collaboration and access to resources
  • Reduce regulatory and financial barriers for local residents to start and maintain a business
HOUSING

Allentown has beautiful historic homes. Allentown also has the highest rent to income ratio in America. Revitalizing the housing stock is a block by block and brick by a brick process. It won’t happen overnight, but it must start somewhere.

Ce-Ce will focus on the following:

  • Fight Blight by acquiring troubled properties before slumlords or out of state landlords purchase them
  • Hold Slumlords accountable using a point system and enforcing fees for violations
  • Increase home-ownership and financial literacy opportunities
  • Enforce building codes
  • Build community wealth by increasing the number of Land Banks
  • Expand affordable housing opportunities 

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HOMELESS CRISIS

Homelessness

Ce-Ce was homeless in 2009. She understands what it feels like to struggle and the challenges that exist in our current system. Allentown is the 3rd largest city in Pennsylvania and yet there is not a drop-in shelter open year around. The City must partner with the County and non-profit organizations to address the homeless crisis in Allentown. Local, state and national experts must lead this fight and not the politicians. Most importantly, those experiencing homelessness need to play a crucial role in any decisions that are made.

A real crisis:

  • Over 40,000 Veterans are homelessness in America
  • 1 out of 3 working Americans are 1 paycheck away from being homeless
  • Over 1,000 kids are identified as homeless in the Allentown School District
  • Shelters are either at capacity or have restrictive criteria to enter

Ce-Ce will make tackling this crisis one of her top priorities by:

  • Form a City Commission to End Homelessness that will bring stakeholders, advocates and those without homes to the table
  • Determine the short-term, long-term and emergency solutions for situational and chronically homeless individuals

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GOVERNANCE

The City needs structural change and one of the best places to start is the City Charter. The Charter dictates the powers and procedures that the Mayor, City Council, the Controller, Solicitor, administration and staff must follow. It also states how citizens are able to participate in the decision making process. Our charter is out of date, has structural deficits and needs a stronger citizen representation component. 

 

 

If elected to City Council, Ce-Ce will:

  • Open up the City Charter by forming a commission with public meetings to explore various opportunities for changes
  • Increase checks and balances in government by exploring various forms of government without a “strong mayor”
  • Establish Neighborhood Resident Advisory Boards with decision making power
  • Strengthen the Budget Process by extending the time Council has to review the documents presented
  • Explore District seats on Council to ensure full representation of each section of the City 
  • Conduct a personnel study to ensure that the City is maximizing talent, resources and funds effectively 

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