Meet the Candidate: Alice (The Angel) Merkl
Alice Merkl is a longtime member of the HausWitch Community, as well as an absolute blessing to Salem, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and frankly the whole dang world. And she's running for City Council!
After the disastrous 2016 election in which almost 50% of registered white women voted for Tr*mp, Alice sprang into political action to cancel out some of the damage done by her demographic.
We seriously can't think of anyone who embodies "community service" better than Alice, and isn't that exactly who we need making the decisions around here? Enough with career politicians who want to enforce their agenda or grab power: Alice just wants to help. In fact, there may or may not be at least 11 Alices zipping around the North Shore at any given time, volunteering for the Salem food pantry and planting seagrass along the delicate coastline.
A Cancer Sun, Leo Moon, and Gemini Rising, Alice has the energy and the heart to get things on track for once in goddamn history.
Read this brief interview with our High Priestess of Civic Engagement to find out why we reallyyyyy want you to VOTE FOR ALICE on November 2nd! Check out our longer conversation on the Witch the Vote Podcast here, and come visit on Saturday 9/11 from 1-3 to chat with Angel Alice yourself! While you're here, maybe drop off a donation for our Solidarity North Shore Treasure Chest? Witches are the future!
Hi Alice! So excited to mark your name on my ballot on November 2nd. For those who may not be familiar with local politics: In your own words, what does a City Councilor At-Large do?
"A Councilor At-Large advocates for the needs and wellbeing of our community members, focusing on issues that affect our city as a whole such as:
-lack of affordable housing
-public health and safety
These are issues that are not unique to only certain wards*. To be effective in addressing these challenges a City Councilor needs to be involved in our communities and listen to our residents... Whether it’s through city ordinances, funding programs, or creating and supporting new initiatives, we need in-touch, forward thinking City Councilors that can think out of the box."
*Witch the Vote Note: Salem has 7 wards, sections of the city that each have their own Councilor. A Councilor At-Large represents the whole city. So EVERYONE can vote for Alice!
Why do YOU want to be a City Councilor At-Large?
"Because what we rely on the most happens at the local level of government. Accessibility and transparency in local politics is really important, and civic engagement is something I am very passionate about. I love being involved in my community with my volunteer work, and bringing my voice to the city council seems like a natural next step for me! I want to bring my passion for community service and advocacy to the council."
What other roles do you hold/have you held in the community?
"This will definitely be my longest answer!
My biggest role has been my volunteer work with the Salem Pantry which I do Wednesday, Friday, and every other Saturday. We’ve expanded so much through the Covid crisis to meet the needs of our residents. Also being part of the Mack Park food farm has been a great experience. Through the Covid crisis, often the pantries have been the only public gathering places, and it's been really cool to be part of the collaborative efforts to serve our communities! We've had the health van taking blood pressure, Timmy’s Angels giving free backpacks and school supplies, the census survey, LVW doing voter registration, city ambassadors giving rental assistance info, Covid vaccines are given. I love that!
Environmentally I participate regularly in neighborhood clean ups, and helped plant the living shoreline with the Salem Sound Coastwatch at Collins Cove and worked with volunteers eradicating invasive species. We have amazing, passionate advocates here in Salem and these kinds of efforts are what I want to support, fund and enhance as a City Councilor.
In support of our businesses, I volunteer for Salem Main Streets and their collaborative efforts to support our small business and our creative community with Creative Collective and Destination Salem. I’ve been working for small, family-owned businesses and at times running my own small business in the arts for over twenty years. I understand the importance of supporting our creative and small business community! It’s also great fun being part of Salem's So Sweet and the Arts Festival. Who can say no to hanging twinkling lights downtown with Kylie?!
I am also on the Board of the Woman’s Friend Society which has been providing affordable transitional housing for women for 140 years at the Emmerton House on Hawthorne Boulevard. It’s really rewarding work to be part of such a long tradition here in Salem!
In the past I volunteered for our Yes on One campaign here in Salem in support of an ordinance of protection for our immigrant community members. I have other advocacy work I’ve done for our LGBTQ community and underserved communities but I’ll stop here so as not to take up too much time!"
What are the most urgent items on your City Council To-Do List?
"Salem is expected to receive millions of dollars in federal Covid relief funds, ARPA funds, over the next two years and need to be spent by the end of 2024. These funds may possibly be used for issues such as health care, childcare and early education, climate change initiatives, food security, infrastructure, and public health. I want to ensure our city government puts the work in to spend these funds effectively with a focus on equity and assistance to all our community members. I’d also like to resubmit the inclusionary zoning ordinance requiring the private sector to create a certain amount of affordable housing in new or repurposed developments. I'll advocate for bringing the off-shore wind industry to Salem. I’d like to see a wage theft ordinance for Salem and give the support needed to our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director to address and implement the recommendations from the Race Equity Task Force report."
What's a typical day like for you? What's a typical campaigning day like for you?
"Oh my typical day is volunteering for the first half of the day, then working my sales job or teaching piano in the afternoon. Since June for the campaign I have been doorknocking from 4-6:30 every day which has been a great experience! Then it’s home to catch a Zoom meeting, maybe a neighborhood association or city council/board/committee meeting (different groups I belong to) and by eight or nine it’s usually take out!"
*Witch the Vote Note: We pressed for more details and Alice admitted she loves takeout from Opus, Rockafellas, and sometimes just CinemaSalem movie theatre popcorn for dinner!
Who are your favorite fictional/historical/celebrity witches?
Samantha Stevens from Bewitched! She was such an important feminist figure to my generation.
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