Bona is running for third term on the council after previously serving in the 1990s. He is a graduate of McCann Technical School and owns Berkshire Emporium and Bona Marketing & Printing on Main Street. He holds a bachelor's degree from Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology in graphic design and communications and he and his wife, Anne-Marie, have two children, Alexander and Elizabeth.
"I bring experience of serving on the City Council and many local health and human service boards, business groups, school boards, and other community organizations. The more a councilor is involved in throughout the community the more they can bring to the table, including voices from the many people they serve with."
1) What do you consider the city's greatest challenge?
Bringing in new businesses and fighting drugs. This isn't unique to most communities. Who doesn't want more jobs? Who doesn't want to eradicate crime? To solve these issues goes beyond the control of City Council, and we need to rely on state and federal laws, incentives and programs to help do both. The last large company that looked at North Adams went to Vermont because the state offered a better package. There was nothing more we could have done as a city to attract them. But we keep on trying, market ourselves, and good things will come eventually.
2) How do you perceive the taxation question: Do you think they are too high/too low/just right? If the city has a spending problem, what should it cut? Should the commercial rate ($32.95, second highest after Pittsfield) be raised again?
This is where I go against my personal opinion when I vote on this. The commercial rate is too high. Over the last 20 years the spread between the commercial and residential increased more than it should have. Now it's near impossible to convince residents that they should pay more to help decrease the amount for businesses. Residents have spoken they don't want that to happen, but at the same time they want us to be attractive to businesses. It's a challenging puzzle. When it comes down to it the majority of the voters make the call and we need to listen.
3)There are a number capital needs on the horizon, not least a new fire station and police station. How should the city address these needs? Should it forge ahead or wait until better economic times? If it waits, how can it manage in the interim?
We apply and hope for funding to become available for such a project. Meanwhile we do what needs to be done to keep the building operational. It would be nice to set reserves aside for these kind of projects, but that’s difficult with the current economy.
4)The North Adams landfill has been operating without a permit for years and needs costly upgrades. Should the city fix it or close it?
That's still to be determined. I am neither an engineer nor a conservationist. I don't believe we should close it. Studies are currently being worked on to present us with costs of different options.
5) Education: The design for the Conte renovation project is nearly complete. What do you think of the project? Should the city reconsider?
I serve on the School Building Committee. That group has had triple the meetings for a school compared to other communities. I've been fully supportive of it since we decided Conte would be the choice. At first Conte was not the choice, but the architects and engineers showed us the costs of renovating the other schools, and building new schools. Conte made the most sense. We wanted to do Conte and Greylock, but the state would only allow us to do one. I expect in several years we will do a new school at Greylock.
6) City Council candidates often talk about improving the school system but the council has no control over the schools other than voting on the budget. Should the council be more involved? How?
No. The school committee are elected officials and that's what they get elected to do. That doesn't mean as a citizen and parent of a student we can't offer suggestions.
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