I am running for City Council because I am a father and a business owner. As such, I have deep concerns about the city I was born in, and the city my children call home. I believe there are several tough issues facing the citizens of North Adams: Crime, slowed economic growth, and a declining population to name a few.
Everyone says they want to be a voice for the people, but I believe first you must listen. I have been listening to the citizens of North Adams my entire life. Now, I want to share what's on the mind of my family, neighbors, and friends.
All members of our community, senior citizens, working families, and young people are entitled to an avenue to express their views, their concerns, and their ideas. I want to be that liaison. This is a small community, I know most of their names, and they know mine. They can call me, come sit with me, whatever they need to be encouraged to participate in making North Adams a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
As a real estate broker, I work with present and future home and business owners. I understand what makes a city attractive to both.
I have a lifetime of managerial and business experience. When I served on the community development board we operated a small business loan program that assisted our local businesses to grow. I served 16 years on the McCann School Committee. While on the school committee I served on the Budget, Facilities, curriculum and Collect Bargaining subcommittees. In that time, I watched the school grow in leaps and bounds. They now have a top notch Academic Curriculum and offer trade programs with leading technology. I'm proud to have been a part of that for 16 years. I have also been an active member of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce.
1) What do you consider the city's greatest asset?
Our greatest asset is the location. We have a small community nestled in the Berkshire Hills which offers a great place to raise a family. Our city's greatest asset is the location. We are nestled into the Berkshire Valley with beautiful surroundings.
2) What do you consider the city's greatest challenge?
Developing a plan to overcome the challenges.
3) 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?
In order for the residential tax rate to remain close to its current value, we need to increase the commercial tax base. The city needs to turn the properties it owns over to the private sector. Windsor Mill should be sold as a whole or as commercial condominiums allowing its current tenants to own their space thus putting the property on the tax rolls. I believe there are other opportunities to build our tax base on the residential side by improving our neighborhoods.
4) 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?
A new public safety facility is crucial to the future of North Adams. The current facilities are antiquated. Certainly I believe the City should put a strong focus on this project.
5) The North Adams transfer station has been operating without a permit for years and needs costly upgrades. Should the city fix it or close it?
The transfer station is a disaster. I have visited other transfer stations around the state, we could model ours based on other cities that have had success with their operations. Closing the facility is an option. The city could bid the residential trash pickup to private haulers. Other cities have had success with these scenarios. We need to look at the impact citywide that residential pickup will have on small local haulers. It certainly will affect some local business owners. The bidding process would be competitive.
6) The design for the Conte renovation project is nearly complete. What do you think of the project? Should the city reconsider?
The city has entered into the Conte renovation. We need to follow the project through. The Massachusetts School Building Assistance program used to reimburse 87 percent of the costs of a school. The current program reimburses 80 percent of the cost to construct a new school. If the city waits on the Conte project it could set us back years reapplying and being approved for a new site and the reimbursement may be much less at a later date.
7) 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?
Whether the council should be more involved in the school is a tough question. If the city council made changes to the school budget it would create a redundant process to the School Committee. I do believe the Mayor should not be automatically appointed chairman of the school committee. The School Committee should be independently elected and allowed to perform their job.
8) Housing: As a councilor, what measures would you support to prevent or remediate blight? Some residents feel there is too much low-income housing that is making the problem worse. If so, how could the council address that?
The City Council should encourage the community development office to seek grant funds available to all homeowners to improve properties in need. The town of Adams has been very successful putting properties back on their tax rolls with these programs. North Adams should do the same. Some councilors have said the funds have dried up. In reality, they are available and the North Adams community development office has been working with the town of Adams. They can institute the same program for our residents.
9) City Council: The city has a "Plan A" government with a strong mayor and limited council. How do you see the role of the council in the city's government? Should it be more proactive or more questioning of the mayor? Or should it focus on more of an advisory role as the voice of constituents? Can it be both? Or should the city's government be changed?
Operating as a Plan A form of government has not helped North Adams. This form of government limits the ability for city councilors to effectively represent the community. The council needs to act more aggressively to seek solutions that will promote change in our city. I have been a propionate of changing the form of government in North Adams. If elected I would pursue the General Committee to review and make recommendations to change the current processes. The Form A type of government often leads us in a circle that stagnates positive change.
10) The council instituted limited speech from citizens as a way to prevent disruptions. Do you agree with the rules or should they be revisited? If the council allows more speech, how can it prevent disruptive behavior?
northadams.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.