It would be very easy to say that the most important issues today are well beyond just Ward 3 in Keene. While I am aware of those issues – and they are many – I say, “but”.
And this is an important “but”.
Neighborhood issues tend to get lost when decisions are made on the planning board and council levels. That’s why it’s important that you vote to keep me as your ward councilor. I focus on those smaller issues because they frequently end up as bad consequences of larger decisions that are made.
For example, we have a policy that sometimes allows excess city property to be developed in discordance with an abutting neighborhood. That was the case when I worked with the North Central Neighborhood Group, The Elm Research Institute and city staff to create the North Central Nature Park on North and Carroll streets.
We also started an anti-heroin campaign that culminated in a city-wide addiction solutions task force that I co-chaired with councilor Randy Filiault. Oh, by the way, they don’t deal drugs on that property anymore.
We have zoning regulations that sometimes allow high density zoning to encroach on medium density neighborhoods. An incident happened recently when I worked with Old Walpole and West Surry road residents and city staff to defeat such a development.
Our Planning Board rules allow developers to take as much time as they like to complete residential housing developments, no matter how it effects resident abutters. I recently worked with abutters and city staff to jump-start the so-called “Keene Sand and Gravel” development at 431 Court St.
Not too long ago, East Surry Road was devastated by a flood. I stood on the city manager’s desk to get that bridge and road damage repaired ASAP.
The Sentinel asks, what are the important issues? I would argue that those are the issues that residents call me about every day. Whether it be a pothole or tree hanging over a power line, constituent service is Job One for a ward councilor.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t been doing other things, like working to increase efficiencies in city operations. In fact, we have moved forward on a joint procurement initiative with the school district and county to share expenses and eliminate duplication. But, feet are being dragged and you need me to keep those feet to the fire.
There has been an economic development committee at work to bring business into town. I was not appointed to that committee – we’ll talk about the differences I have with this mayor later – but I have advocated for a sustainable path that takes us away from the same old technologies and methods that failed us in the past decades. You’ll recall Bruce Springsteen’s lines in his song, “My Home Town…these jobs are goin’ boys and they ain’t comin’ back.” Well, this is the 21st Century and we need to acknowledge that.
For example, soon the city will enter into a power purchase agreement with a solar company to buy only electricity generated from solar power in New Hampshire – at a lower rate than Eversource. You need me to stay on that purchasing committee to make sure it happens. Otherwise, you’ll likely get fracked natural gas for another generation.
In order to continue doing these things I need your help, to write letters to the editor, write Facebook and Twitter endorsements, sign canvassing card endorsements, make phone calls, put up lawn signs, or just say a kind word.
I’ve been with you folks for many years and have never asked for help. But, I’m asking now, and I hope you will.