Would you make any changes to Town Meeting and the voting process to ensure the greatest participation?
If increasing participation is the top goal, we could allow remote participation. At the January Special Town Meeting, 8% of our 13,600 registered voters participated, while 28% of our voters participated in the February Special Town Election. Key difference: we could vote by mail in the election, but not at Town Meeting. Vote by mail or other remote participation forms could increase participation rates and be more inclusive, but it would dramatically change one aspect of Town Meeting — how Concord voters, acting as the town’s legislative body, deliberate publicly on important financial matters and town bylaws.
Do you think property taxes are the best way to pay for town improvements?
For the most part, yes, but not all town improvements are paid by property taxes. Some critical town services, including electricity, water, sewer, trash/recycling, cable TV and broadband services, are paid by the particular rate payers or subscribers, not tax dollars. The pools of contributors are different. We need to see this distinction when talking about how to fund town improvements and services so we know who will be impacted and who will not be affected. Also, we have some property tax relief mechanisms designed to aid those who cannot afford to pay.
How would you address housing in Concord?
Housing is one of my top issues. We have adopted the Housing Production Plan as our guide for creating and funding affordable housing and meeting other housing needs. We should listen to our housing groups, who will give us an overall approach to creating more diverse housing types. Also, we should take steps to improve infrastructure to allow for more growth, such as investing more in our wastewater treatment facilities. Thoughtful development is necessary, and we should support affordable housing Warrant Articles and legislative efforts.
How would you address the generational divide as evidenced by the recent middle school vote?
Supporting our schools is another of my top issues. My perspective is that support for the middle school building project, and our schools in general, is widespread. Whether a generational divide actually existed in the recent middle school votes is uncertain. What we saw from the school votes is twofold: deep support for our schools and a valid concern about the rising costs of living in Concord for citizens of all ages. Our schools are our biggest investment, with good reason – they are excellent and we want them to stay that way. Good schools create widespread community benefits.