My entire platform with action steps is currently available here: Issues
Many of these goals are on-going projects and reflect the initial things that I’ll begin to address right away, but will take time to complete. Recently, however, I was asked to explain my goals in a timeline for my first term if elected. I’m happy to answer this question.
In my first year as Mayor my top priority is providing more information to you and giving you opportunities to become involved. Right away I will ask the Common Council to repeal Resolution 2016-R-3, which stifles public comment, and instead establish reasonable guidelines for meetings that encourage people to share their thoughts and concerns. Within the first year I want to see public meetings broadcasted live across social media platforms. I will also make budget information, meeting agendas, council and board decisions, and all public information more easily obtainable on our city’s website. It should be easy, not difficult, for you to be involved and get answers from your elected officials. Meetings of the Common Council will have a different “flavor.” I will welcome questions from attendees, and attempt to answer them that evening. Attendees, and all council members, will be treated equally, with respect and dignity. All council members will receive information about proposed legislation at the same time, far enough in advance to research and evaluate the issue, and discuss it with their constituents.
Improving transparency isn’t the only element of my platform, but it’s one of the first things I can do for you.
The first year will also involve some assessment work. I’ve promised to re-evaluate our use of TIF to make sure we’re using it in the most responsible way. I will also evaluate our infrastructure needs across all neighborhoods, and review our parks and recreation opportunities to see what is being used and what we still need. The Community Activity Center’s facilities, including the splash park, miniature golf course, and skating rink, will be open on Sundays.
Before we can move forward we need a full understanding of where we are. Decisions about improvements will be made carefully with full evaluation of their merits and many opportunities for residents to share their feedback. Take for instance the frequent request for a city pool that we see on social media. I, personally, would love for Charlestown to have a pool, but before we take that step we need to understand our financial situation and assess our immediate community needs. I can’t promise you a pool in year one, but I CAN promise you we will investigate it as an option.
The first year also brings a unique set of challenges as we move on from some of the poorly managed projects of the current administration – namely development in Pleasant Ridge and the resulting lawsuits against the city. The city needs an ethical and fair property maintenance code that doesn’t resort to immediate punitive measures but works in collaboration with property owners. Right away I will ask the Council to take up this issue in a way that does not rely on the use of excessive fines or eminent domain to take property from people and put it into the hands of private developers. Whether you own a home or vacant land, I will not support plans that strip you of your property rights. I also think it’s vital to explore means of helping property owners who have difficulty maintaining their property due to age, disability, or income restrictions. If we are willing to invest resources to attract out of town developers, we should also be willing to invest in our citizens.
My motto, Keeping Charlestown First, means that we welcome development without displacing current residents.
At the end of my first year in office I want to present a State of the City review that summarizes what we have, prioritizes what we need, lists possible amenities, and gives you an action plan of how we’re going to move on those things. And you’ll be involved the entire way. In the first year I will have a Community Table event. If it is well-received and productive, I will have three more that year. You can learn more about this idea here: Community Table
In year two of my term you’ll start to notice things moving as we put into place the needs identified in the first year plan. In addition to continuing established traditions, like Christmas City and Founders Day, by the second year you’ll see the implementation of some new social programs designed to strengthen our families. Early intervention for at-risk teens, peer-parent support for families in crisis, and confronting the opioid epidemic are just a few of these things. By the end of my third year I also hope to see an expansion of our Elementary and Middle School after school programs to help ease stress on our working families.
The fourth year of my term will see action on the long-term projects listed in my platform. We’ll see infrastructure improvements and plans for continued maintenance of our roads and sewers. Drainage and storm water runoff are significant concerns. By the end of year four I hope to have secured a partnership with Charlestown State Park to provide more recreational opportunities for our residents and to attract visitors.
In January of each year I’ll issue a State of the City Address. This public event will be a time for us to evaluate our success along the way. It’s not effective to look back at the end of a term. Good evaluation happens along the way.
Cities are complicated. Serving as your Executive will involve a commitment to pursuing big goals with the critical ability to re-evaluate when plans require modification. At the end of my first four years, you will find that you’ve been kept informed along the way and that you’ve been a part of building our future.