My name is James Blanco. I recently graduated from Purdue with a degree in political science, and now I’m running for West Lafayette City Council to make this city a better place to live for workers and students. As a local from a working-class background, I know firsthand how hard it can be just to make ends meet in this city. That’s why you can count on me to fight for you when I’m elected to the city council. Make sure to vote James Blanco for West Lafayette City Council at-large on Tuesday, November 5th.

Free CityBus for All

citybus-photo.jpgI believe that public transportation is a right which should be provided free at the point of service to everyone who needs it. This is an important issue because thousands of workers in the Greater Lafayette area rely on CityBus for their daily transportation needs. While Purdue students and staff can access CityBus for free with their Purdue ID, workers outside of Purdue currently have to pay a fare to use our public transit system. As city councilor, I will work together with the Lafayette City Council to ensure that CityBus is free of charge for all area residents.

Currently, less than 10% of the CityBus budget is funded by passenger fares— so it will be fairly easy for our municipal governments to step in and replace that revenue.

Quality, Affordable Housing for All

As enrollment at Purdue continues to increase each year, affordable rental housing is getting harder and harder to come by. Average rents in West Lafayette have increased over 7% in the past year, nearly four times the rate of inflation. The Greater Lafayette area now has the third-highest rents of any region in Indiana. While new developments like The Hub have increased the supply of rental housing somewhat, these are luxury, high-rent apartments that do not meet the needs of the average student or worker in West Lafayette.

That’s why I’m advocating for policies that incentivize the construction of new affordable housing. For example, parking requirements should be reduced for developments that are affordable for students and low-income workers. Currently, many apartment complexes in West Lafayette have large parking lots that go mostly unused. Reducing the minimum parking requirements for affordable units would benefit renters while ensuring that land is more efficiently utilized. We should also repeal the current city ordinance which makes it illegal for more than three unrelated renters to occupy a single-family home, even if there is adequate space for additional occupants. This would open up desperately needed housing units for the students and workers of West Lafayette.

Recycling Service for All

While the City currently provides curbside recycling service to single-family homes, most apartment complexes in West Lafayette do not have recycling dumpsters available for their residents. The city street commissioner recently stated that only 20 to 25% of rental units have access to recycling, which means that hundreds of tons of recyclable materials are being sent to landfills each year. This is environmentally damaging, and it’s also a disservice to the people of West Lafayette, who would like to recycle more if they were able to do so. That’s why I’m advocating for a city ordinance that would require all apartment complexes to provide recycling services to their residents. It’s just the right thing to do.

Renters’ Rights

I’m a strong believer in renter’s rights. It’s critically important that the City protects renters from unfair and exploitative treatment by big corporate landlords like Granite.

That’s why I’m committed to protecting and strengthening West Lafayette’s rental inspection program, which requires that every apartment in the city is regularly inspected by a public employee to confirm that the unit is safe and well-maintained. Recently, the Indiana Supreme Court dealt a blow to our city’s rental inspection program, by putting a cap on how much the city can charge landlords for the inspections. As city councilor, I will work to find a progressive funding mechanism for this vital program, which has protected countless renters over the years from unfair treatment by landlords. I will also fight to strengthen the program by increasing penalties on landlords whose units fail the inspections.

I’m also advocating for a just-cause eviction ordinance, which would ensure that landlords can only evict tenants, or deny them the right to renew their lease, when they can prove in court that the tenant has done something egregiously wrong. This should provide some security and peace of mind to renters all over the city.