Portsmouth City Council Candidates Glance 4

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  • 7/27/2019 Portsmouth City Council Candidates Glance 4

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    PORTSMOUTH HERALD TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2013A7WWW.SEACOASTONLINE.COM

    P O R T S M O U T H C I T Y C O U N C I L R A C E

    Duncan MacCallumAddress: 536 State St.Age: 62

    Zelita F. MorganAddress: 39 Richards Ave.Age: 51

    Devin MurphyAddress: 621 Islington St., Suite FAge: 26

    Shelley SaundersAddress: 15 Oak St.Age: 39

    What is your solution to thecurrent parking shortage indowntown?

    Do you support the conceptsof form-based zoning as away to encourage respon-sible development?

    Do you feel the cityhas enough publictransportation?

    Give us your philosophyon the budget and what yourpriorities are when it comesto funding education andpublic safety.

    Do you support extend-ing last call for bars inPortsmouth until 2 a.m.?

    Where do you think the cityshould build a senior centerand why?

    What is your overall positionon overtime wages?

    With many union contractsexpected to expire in 2014,what do you hope the cityachieves through the collec-tive bargaining process?

    In what ways can the citybolster public participationand input?

    Identify an issue notmentioned above thatyou feel should bea priority in the comingyears.

    Candidates ata glance

    The 23 residents running for thePortsmouth City Council answereda series of questions provided bythe Portsmouth Herald for profilestories. As an additional help toreaders, their answers (somereduced to fit this space) will bedetailed in this format this week.

    For their complete answers, visitwww.seacoastonline.com.

    We need another parking garage built as soonas possible. We simply cant have anothersummer high- tra c season like we did th ispast summer. It is dangerous to pedestriansand drivers who do not have knowledge ofour downtown searching for parking spots.The garage is needed for employees of ourrestaurants, retail shops, hair salons and localbusinesses that have relocated to the down-town area.

    I think we should not just build any garage, ithas to be sustainable, safe, (and) bicyclist- andmoped-friendly. It should have 24-hour securitypatrol for public safety.

    I completely support form-based zoning, andthink we need to immediately have a board orperson working on developing our land use

    codes, ASAP. Form-based zoning would allowthe city to advise and mandate specific build-ing/design types, suited for the appropriateland use, versus our now traditional and a littleoutdated land-use zoning that is too broad andleaves a lot of wiggle room for developers toabuse their design, not taking into consider-ation the immediate abutters and the surround-ing design/feel of the neighborhood.

    I feel the city does have enough public trans-portation. But, I feel we are lacking in transpor-tation for the seniors. I also feel that we needmore taxis on the streets available on Fridayand Saturday nights.

    The proposed FY14 budget breakdown is:54 percent to schools, 10 percent to fire, 13percent to police, 23 percent to general gov-ernment. I believe our school system is welldeserving of the 54 percent, with New FranklinElementary School ranking No. 2 best elemen-tary school in New Hampshire (out of 216schools). We can generate more money insidethe well-deserving police department by allow-ing police employees to opt out of the cityshealth insurance for $3,500 payment back intotheir paychecks, just like the Fire Depar tmentdoes, as long as that employee can provideproof of insurance on a spouse.

    No. With Portsmouth being a destinationfor University of New Hampshire students,bar patrons from surrounding cities andMassachusetts, I do not think it is necessary.

    As it is, bartenders after closing dont leavework until 2:30 to 3 a.m. Why do this to therestaurant employees and the pol ice o cerson patrol?

    I think the old Connie Bean center could bereconstructed and a perfect place for a seniorcenter, with appropriate transportation. Thiswould allow seniors to enjoy all of what down-town has to oer The Music Hall, PrescottPark, restaurants and more. The bricks are up,and the building is part of our history, why tearit down? Lets put it to good use.

    I believe overtime wages are necessary for thehard work our city workers perform.

    I hope the city can work with the unions to renewcontracts, but, I believe there has to be a hardlook at the current contracts. Again, I think anoutside consultant should be brought in to take alook at contracts and give a fresh perspective ifthese unions are in the appropriate contracts.

    This election will be a game changer, with moreresidents wanting to come out and vote, andvote for a council member who will most rep-resent their voice. Direct residents to the cityof Portsmouths Web site, view the boards and

    what the boards do. Boards always have seatsopen for citizens to join, that is exactly how Ijoined the Conservation Commission in August2012. I think most residents think the process ofcity politics is scary, and I want to change that.

    Portsmouth is made up of over 30 percentwetlands. There needs to be more educationabout preserving our wetlands and the GreatBay estuary system.

    Starting with the (re)construction of our currentvery outdated wastewater treatment plant, weneed to make sure the new facility is cutting edgewhen it comes to U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency standards for nitrogen level emissions,so very important to the beautiful body of waterthe plant sits on. Incentivize residents who usebest practices accordingly, preserving wetlandsand controlling storm water runo.

    I dont believe there is a single solution to theshortage of parking in the downtown. The com-bination of a new parking garage, and the cre-ation of a satellite parking space with shuttleservice to the downtown area and even permitonly areas for downtown employees are allviable options toward solving this issue.

    I do support the concept. I believe zoning ismore eective and logical when based on regu-lations rather than guidelines. Form-based zon-ing allows the city to clearly illustrate the useand separation of every part of a parcel, takinginto consideration the types of buildings, build-to lines and frontage, rather than looking at theparcel as one single block of space. While itcan be a bit more time-consuming, I believe it ismore eective in the long term.

    Portsmouth does a good job with public trans-portation throughout the city and to neighbor-ing areas, but we can do a better job with thedowntown area. We could organize a park-and-ride system for employees who work down-town by setting up a parking area outside of thedowntown and having the trolleys bring peopleback and forth. I also believe at the height ofsummer, there arent enough taxis in the citywhen people are leaving the restaurants andbars in the evening.

    Maintaining our fantastic education system ishands down my top priority. Keeping the townwithin the guidelines of the budget while keep-ing taxes from going up is important to me aswell. Portsmouth is an expensive place to liveand it is important to keep the costs down forresidents while delivering a top-class livingexperience.

    I do support the extension of last call until 2a.m. in Portsmouth and I believe it could bea well-deserved boost in revenue, especiallyin the summer. Restaurants and bars are a

    significant factor bringing people into our cityand if we can keep them here longer and havethem spend more money, then it is an obviouschoice. I also believe if the bars stayed openuntil 2 a.m., there would be less of a mass exo-dus from downtown during closing time, leavingtaxis open for patrons to be driven home ratherthan taking a chance and driving.

    I think the city should create a senior centeras near to the downtown area as possible. Thesenior community deserves a place where theycan involve themselves in fellowship and vari-ous activities while also being within easy walk-ing distance to all that downtown oers.

    Overtime should be managed closely andapproved only in cases of necessity. It shouldnot be a bargaining tool, but instead a rewardfor extra hard work.

    Collective bargaining is an historic and vital rightof the working class in the U.S. and N.H. to sim-ply have a seat at the table, and since the work-ers are the backbone of this citys economy,they must have a voice regarding their workingconditions. I hope through collective bargainingwe will be able to continue our reputation forgreat public education by fulfilling the needsof our educators, and make sure we cover thepensions of our firefighters and police.

    Greater use of social media to promote com-munity events and to aid in the discourse sur-rounding the issues that will aect the city. OurWeb site could use an update and our socialmedia presence is lacking. There has also been

    a great lack of representation for the youngergeneration in Portsmouth, which has played amajor role in my deciding t o run for o ce. The18- to 35-year-olds who keep this city runningday in and day out deserve someone to speakfor them, and that is what I hope to be.

    Aordability is a top priority for me. There isa perception among many of those who workdowntown that Portsmouth takes them forgranted and doesnt give them the supportthey might need to aord to live and park inthe very city they help to prosper. I want toexplore ways to help make living in Portsmouthmore aordable for the people who work in ourrestaurants and shops downtown.

    Much of the parking shortage owes to our citysincreased popularity among tourists. The logicalresponse would be to construct one or moreparking facilities in the North End so as to inter-cept visitors before they drive from Interstate95 to the city center. The cost of such facilitiesshould be borne by real estate developers, andnot by Portsmouth residents.

    The Worth lot is a poor site for a garagebecause the adjacent segment of MaplewoodAvenue is already congested. The ParrottAvenue lot is an even worse location becauseit would require visitors coming o of I-95 todrive through downtown and nearby neighbor-hoods in order to access the site.

    My support for form-based zoning is tenta-tive, as this tool has not much of a trackrecord in environments similar to downtownPortsmouth. In the event that i t fails to deliver,the city should have a solid Plan B in place,e.g. straightforward dimensional limitations inthe zoning ordinance, written in plain English.It is also critically important that city o cialsinsist on urban design of a much higher qualitythan we have seen in the North End and at 51Islington St. and at the new CVS on LafayetteRoad. We can, and we must, do better.

    The local public bus system (COAST) reportsrecord ridership numbers. The city shouldcontinue to work closely with COAST so as toprovide more frequent bus and trolley service.The trolley would really take o if it ran at15-minute intervals.

    Portsmouth should also be more aggressive ineorts to improve bicycle and pedestrian infra-structure so as to provide a healthy alternativeto our reliance on motor vehicles. The utiliza-tion of such alternatives would have a positive

    impact on tra c congestion that plagues down-town and the Islington Street corridor.

    I am a fiscal conservative. Overtime in thepolice and fire departments has been abused inthe past. Going forward, such practices shouldbe curbed in every instance.

    The citys spending on its public schools isgrossly out of alignment in that far too much isspent on constructing new school buildings thatare much larger than well ever need, while atthe same time, the curriculum is antiquated. Inthat respect, we must do a better job preparingour young people for an increasingly competitiveglobal economy. Better schools (not larger ones)are in every homeowners interest, because insuch communities, property values rise.

    Absolutely not. There are already far too manydrunken hooligans running around. We shouldbe able to enjoy tranquility and safety on ourpublic streets.

    Downtown, in a location that is close to the citycenter, Prescott Park and the Memorial Bridge. Insuch a location, seniors would have ready accessto coee shops, sidewalk seating, bookstores,the tranquility of Prescott Park, and the scenicvistas provided by the Memorial Bridge. The oldConnie Bean Center would have been an ideallocation. Perhaps we should oer to buy it back.

    See response to Question No. 4, above.

    I will do everything in my power to preventa relapse into the pension abuses that wererampant during the late 20th century. As forovertime, see my response to Question No. 4,above.

    City councilors can, and should, be doing a bet-ter job at listening to the citizenry. In particular,councilors should keep an open mind, at leastuntil the public has finished speaking.

    Climate change should be moved to the frontburner. Climatologists advise that municipalinvestments in preparation are far less costlythan responding to extreme weather eventsafter the fact. Its time to get serious in regardto planning and preparation. We owe it to ourchildren to prepare as best we can. At therisk of stating the obvious, ours is a low-lyingcoastal community.

    I will oppose any Worth lot parking garage. I willoppose any Parrott Avenue parking garage. I willoppose any aboveground parking garage in thedowntown, period. I favor underground parkinggarages, but the cost of same should be borneprimarily by those who would primarily benefitfrom them: the hotels, bars and restaurants,and the downtown businesses, generally.

    I am extremely leery of form-based zoningbecause I feel it has not been properly vet-ted. I am uneasy with a holistic system thatdepends primarily on character, rather thanobjective criteria, for it introduces too muchsubjectivity and, ergo, the potential for abuse.I am amenable to implementing it, but only witha sunset clause, so that we can see how wellit works.

    I would have said the city should expand thenumber and location of its bus and trolleyroutes and double or triple the frequency ofruns, but the fact is, that the buses and trolleysare barely being utilized as it is. Expansion ofshuttle service to satellite parking lots is oneof the obvious incidentals that will go hand-in-hand with solving the parking problem.Hopefully, it will also stimulate an enhancementof overall service and more widespread use.

    If you had come to me with the combined$80 million that we spent on the PortsmouthHigh School extension and the middle schoolrenovation and said to me, I think we shoulduse those funds to raise incoming teacherssalaries, so that we can attract the best andbrightest talent, I probably would have said,Well, at $80 million, I still think thats way toomuch, but at least I would have taken thatproposal seriously, for it is teachers, not lav-ish new physical facilities, that drive studentachievement.

    I grew up in upstate New York, where the barsclosing time was 2 a.m., and I dont see thatit ever hurt anything. That circumstance, plusmy basic aection for freedom, inclines me to

    say a 2 a.m. closing time should be allowed.Drunken revelry, alcohol-fueled disorderly con-duct and general unruliness are a function ofovera...

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