2013 City Council Candidate Questionnaires



Yes/No Questions

In this section, candidates were asked to answer yes or no to each question, or leave it blank. However, whether they answered or left blank any answer, they were allowed to leave an explanation in another section. Because there is so much data, and quite a number of explanations, we've opted to produce a pop-up box for the explanations. Any answer (Yes, No, or blank) with an explanation has a yellow box you can mouse over (or touch on your touch screen) and get the candidate's details behind their answer.

Also, the headers of the whole table are sortable - so you can sort up or down on the name, or on any question column in the table. The question number and a short reminder are at the top of each column. Warning: table is really wide!

Hope this is really helpful!

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The questions:

1. [Economic] Do you support a casino/slot being developed in or near Lowell?

2. [Economic] Would you support a capital project to add a parking garage to the Hamilton Canal district to encourage commercial growth?

3. [Education] Do you support building a new campus-style high school near Cawley stadium (moving the high school from downtown)?

4. [Education] Do you feel that the City currently adequately funds the public schools?

5. [Financing] Do you support the current policy of using the majority of "free cash" from the past year to increase the stabilization fund?

6. [Government] Do you support the Plan E form of government for the City of Lowell?

7. [Government] Are you for a contract for the City Manager position?

8. [Government] Do you wish to retain the current administration of Bernie Lynch?

9. [Government] Do Lowell's Boards need more reform/new appointments?

10. [Government] Should Lowell consider changes to Plan E to create mixed at-large and district-based seats for municipal elections?

11. [Government] Are you for some kind of IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) or other voting reform?

12. [Government] Do you support getting a Home Rule petition to allow 17-year-olds to vote in local elections?

13. [Government] Should City Councilors have term limits?

14. [Government] Should the Mayor's position be full time?

15. [Ordinances] Would you like to see the ordinences changed to allow residents with enough land to keep limited numbers of chickens?

16. [Ordinances] Would you support the reduction of late hours of operations in alcohol-serving bars?

17. [Services] Do you support reducing the frequency of summer yard waste pick-up to save tax money?

18. [Taxes] Do you believe that the commerical tax rate is set too high?

19. [Taxes] Do you support the policy of using the maximum residential factor when setting the tax rates?

20. [Zoning] Do you support changing the Westview Road parcel from commercial to residential?

21. [Zoning] Do you support changing a portion of Rogers street from commercial to mixed use?

Candidate Name

#1 Cas-ino

#2 Gar-age

#3 HS

#4 Sch. Funds

#5 Free Cash

#6 Plan E

#7 CM Cont.

#8 Retain Lynch

#9 Boards

#10 Dist. Votes

#11 IRV

#12 Vote 17

#13 Term Limits

#14 Full-time Mayor

#15 Chick-ens

#16 Bar Hours

#17 Yard Waste

#18 Comm. Taxes

#19 Max Res. Factor

#20 West-view Rd

#21 Rogers St

Belanger, Corey Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes Yes No No No No No Yes No Yes No
Doyle, Genevieve No
Yes
Unions must hire a high percentage of local residents.
Yes
I am unable to answer this - I believe we could use more but am unsure if we are utilizing our current funds appropriately.
Yes Yes Yes
Yes
Depending on who else applies and their credentials.
Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Yes
If the Mayor is a fulltime employee of the city - then the People of the City should vote specifically for the Mayor.
Yes! Yes No No
I am also unable to answer this because I would like to see what this actually means financially to the people of Lowell.
Yes Yes
Hargis, Stacie
Yes but only if the casino could guarantee living wage jobs for all workers and would include a very large percentage of money going directly to our school system and other community programming to help offset documented negatives to gaming industries entering communities.
Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
I don't know enough about all the current appointments to the boards to fairly answer this question. I do think it is the responsibility of the City Council to encourage people in our community to participate on boards and to be active in our municipal activities. I think that many of the boards have term limits for a reason and it would be a sign of a vibrant, engaged city if more people took turns serving on boards.
Yes No Yes No No
Yes
I attended the Neighborhood Subcommittee meeting on Sept 17th to learn more about a possible ordinance as I've been hesitate to make a decision one way or another without more information on specifics. I've been asking people what they think, and have heard both support and opposition from people - especially around property values as well as both benefits and concerns on health issues. I've also heard a lot of middle ground as well. As I listened to those for and against, I heard the passion for wanting the opportunity to have better control over access to one's own food consumed. I also heard passionate pleas that sanitation and noise were serious quality of life concerns. In the end, I heard the Health and Animal Control departments say that the only reason why they were called to the houses that have backyard chickens was because of just that, they had them, and not because of unsanitary or noisy conditions. Since this is such a complicated ordinance with many implications to consider, I think the subcommittee had an opportunity to recommend a compromise that would allow a few special permits to the few that are shown prepared and responsible enough to take on owning their own chickens. It would have been an opportunity to find a middle ground to grant a few special permits to test out the conditions to see if a city wide ordinance is possible. It would have been an opportunity to assuage worries by limiting the numbers, until it could be proven to be a manageable situation within our city. I believe that issues around urban agriculture are not going to disappear, it would have been an opportunity for Lowell to prepare better to meet the future needs of Urban Living.
No Yes No Yes No
The Council is waiting on the Planning Board to provide their recommendation. I also believe that the abutters and neighbors should have an opportunity for more involvement to figure out the impetus for changing the zoning. Are the main concerns for the area vehicular safety, pedestrian crossing, big box retail development? It seems more conversation around a strategic plan for the area is necessary in order to really understand what the best approach may be.
Martin, William
No
I would support a full casino but think that one is highly unlikely to come to Lowell- I would oppose a slot parlor.
Yes
I would support but no current need and existing plan calls for a private garage in the district.
No
Yes
The city has exceeded the funding level required by the state last year, and likely this year also (we won't know until state notiifes, whcih is always at the end of the fiscal year).
Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes No No
No
I would consider a pilot program with a small number of board of health licenses to see how this might work.
No Yes Yes Yes No No
Mendonca, Joseph No
Yes, if there were cost and revenue projections that showed that there would be sufficient revenue to cover the debt service.
No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Likely yes, I would need more information on how IRV would be implemented.
Yes
That should be up to voters - ballot question.
No Yes
Likely no, I would only want to reduce the hours of the establishment(s) that have had problems.
In general I would support reducing the costs of yard waste pickup - but it would depend on the implemetation details
Yes No No No
Misitano, Rick
Yes
On November 22, 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed Chapter 194 “An Act Establishing Expanded Gaming in the Commonwealth,” legislation designed to provide significant benefits to the Commonwealth by advancing job creation and economic development. The intent is to create thousands of jobs for Massachusetts residents in the areas of construction, hospitality and tourism, while also generating $300 - $500 million in new revenue for the Commonwealth. The Gaming Act allows for up to three “destination resort casinos” to be located in three specific geographically diverse regions across the state and one single slots facility free to locate anywhere in the state. Penn National Gaming sought to develop such a facility in the Town of Tewksbury, which stirred much debate throughout the community.

Under the current guidelines enacted by the state, the licensing fee for each “resort casino” is a minimum of $85 million and requires a capital investment (which must include a hotel facility) of at least $500 million. The Commonwealth will receive 25% of gross gaming revenues. The slots facility (which will hold up to 1,250 slot machines) has a $25 million license fee, and a minimum capital investment of $125 million and will be taxed at 40% of its gross gaming revenue.

I personally feel that such a proposal can do great things for cities and towns across the state (including the City of Lowell) but under a MUCH smaller scale. Under the current law, in order for a gaming developer to be granted a license, they are required to present ‘MGM Grand’ types of plans to the residents of the city or town they wish to develop such a facility. Most communities don't want a huge Taj Mahal in their backyard. That is why I think there has been so much resistance by cities and towns across Massachusetts.

The state should revise the law to allow gaming developers and the communities interested in pursuing such developments the ability to propose and approve much smaller scale facilities. One great example of such a facility is the Ocean Gaming Casino located on Ocean Blvd. in Hampton, NH. This is such a charming facility that was very elegantly designed as small scale gaming facility and is embraced by the town’s own amenities that surround it, such as the areas existing restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues. I could absolutely envision such an operation located in the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Lowell! However, since we no longer have a Marriott Hotel in Downtown Lowell, perhaps this could be of interest to the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center?

Probably not, but it’s just a thought! The intent of the current gaming law to create thousands of jobs for Massachusetts residents in construction, hospitality and tourism, while also generating $300 - $500 million in new revenue for the Commonwealth is an admirable goal that I feel can work, but only if it is made more realistic for communities to embrace.
Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yes
Yes. However, the only way such a form of government can effectively work would be under total transparency and complete accountability of the representatives elected and establishing clearly defined responsibilities for the city manager who would also be held to the same level of total transparency and complete accountability. For our current form of government to effectively work, elected officials also need to work with various neighborhood groups and seek out the opinions and ideas of the citizens of the City of Lowell and include them as part of the decision making process by holding quarterly or semi-annual public forums or hearings to allow citizens the opportunity to voice their concerns on major issues that would impact the city, including holding special elections on any major important issue that could substantially affect the community at large.
No
No. I believe that ALL hired city positions should be “AT-WILL” positions.
Yes
I would absolutely be willing to consider retaining the current City Manager as an “At-Will” employee. However, if needed, consider negotiating a new limited term contract vs. seeking to replace the current City Manager, BUT only after thorough deliberations with the Council in order to make certain all concerns are heard and all issues raised are clearly addressed to ensure he remains a good fit for the Council and the city at large going forward.
Yes Yes
Yes
I would not be opposed to exploring some kind of IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) or some other form of voting reform. Upholding the principle of majority rule and accommodating genuine voter choice are paramount for a democracy. Instant Runoff Voting would empower voters to rank candidates in order of choice and would uphold the goal of majority rule, providing more strength and integrity of “one voice, one vote”.
Yes
No
City Councilors already have term limits. They are called elections.
Yes
No
Personally, I have had a very negative experience with past neighbors keeping roosters in their back yard. Having to deal with the odor and debris that would fly around on windy days was one thing. Dealing with the noise at all hours of the day and night was another. The same issues would also apply to chickens. Honestly, I am not in support of such a blanket ordinance that would affect the city at large. I realize allowing such a thing seems harmless to some, but there are real concerns and issues at hand, such as the public's health and the right of quiet enjoyment for all residents in the City of Lowell. There is a reason why zoning laws exist, and I just don’t think allowing such a variance would be good for the city as a whole.
Yes
I do not support a blanket reduction of late hours for all alcohol serving establishments in the city. Rather, I do support a reduction of late hours for alcohol serving establishments as enforcement for those establishments who violate city ordinances and state law. I have a zero tolerance policy for proprietors who choose to operate their businesses with a disregard to following the law or preserving the rights of quiet enjoyment by the neighborhoods that surround them.
No Yes No Yes Yes
Vieira, Matthew Yes Yes
Yes
Yes, I support building a new campus-style high school, but I refrain from mentioning “Cawley stadium” as a potential destination. This of course is a matter of discussing funding with the state delegation, as well as potential location. This too would result in a public hearing, so we are absolutely in need of a new school, but the location for now, is undetermined.
Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Yes
Absolutely. The mayor should hold the position as a full time job, as opposed to a ceremonial mayor. As aforementioned through my campaign, I am a believer in a strong mayor, plan A type of government. I strongly believe that the folks of Lowell have the greater opportunity to restore the government to the people when the opportunity for them to elect the individual atop the helm is in their hands. Through electing a mayor, while the council will no longer hold the highest power they will remain a legislative body. Unlike now with our current plan E type, plan A will allow for the people of Lowell to hold the Mayor accountable for his/ her actions when they disagree, or are dissatisfied with the direction we are headed in.
No No No Yes Yes No No
Mitchell, Derek No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
Pech, Van No Yes No
No
No. In order for our students to be productive community members we need to provide them with the tools for them to succeed. Among the tools that will help them succeed are their teachers. There should be more support for teachers and investment in the environment where studenst are learning.
Yes Yes
No
No. In general I do not support contracts but what is most important is having the best quality manager on the job.
Yes
Yes. I would be in favor of negotiating with the City Manager on a new contract when his expires. During his tenure the city has consistently been in good financial standing. The bond rating is solid, our reserves are being filled and taxes have been leveled. When you have a coach of a team that is doing well and having winning seasons you would renegotiate his contract to keep the team successful. The City Manager has proven to be a winning coach and city's administration is a winning team.
Yes
Yes. Currently the city does a good job with appointing new members. The City encourages Lowell residents to apply for boards and commissions with the main eligibility being that the individuals has an interest in improving the city.
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yes
Yes. We should have a trial period to determine if this ordinance would work. There should be well thought out guidelines and regulations that makes it a case by case process.
No
No. By enforcing the reduction in hours the city would be penalizing the majority of local businesses, which have been operating according to the rules without incidents. We should not be punishing all of the local businesses based on the actions of a few. If we were to approve this guideline for everyone, that would discourage economic development and new businesses from establishing themselves in Lowell.
No Yes Yes
Need more information. As a current Zoning Board member, I would do my best to get all of the information from all sides before making a decision. It is difficult to make a well-informed decision without all of the information.
Need more information. As a current Zoning Board member, I would do my best to get all of the information from all sides before making a decision. It is difficult to make a well-informed decision without all of the information.
Samaras, William No Yes
As headmaster, I reviewed the possibility of building a new high school at Cawley Stadium to make the fields available to students. Since the Speck report, but more importantly, the expansion of Umass Lowell and Middlesex Community College to the downtown area, the idea of rebuilding the high school in the downtown presents new and better educational opportunities for our students in the urban setting.
No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Any change in the voting system should be a community-wide discussion.
Yes
Yes
I believe that term limits should be considered at all levels of government and a decision like this should be approved at the voter level.
No
No
At this time, my answer has to be no. However, ideas like this have merit and should always be given a fair hearing and their proponents' needs should be considered.
Yes No
No
There should be a continuous discussion on tax rates and fees for what best serves the city of Lowell and the people.
Yes No No

Essay Questions

Corey Belanger

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

priority #1: if elected Business/Economic development will be paramount. The city has many large-scale developments in the pipeline. As a businessmen in the city and someone who is fully vested in lowell I realize the importance of the councils actions in the coming years. Attracting new businesses to the city is crucial to keeping the residential tax-rate at bay. If elected I would propose hiring-or promoting from within- a business development officer that will, for starters, knock on doors of existing businesses to see what the city can do to ensure they remain doing business in lowell. Second, actively recruiting businesses to the city, offering tax-breaks in distressed areas and other incentives that are in place. This will help create jobs, increase tax revenue while keeping the residential tax rate down...

Priority #2: Corporate sponsors for our parks, stadiums and open spaces. This will not translate to flashing billboards everywhere. What I aim to do if elected if offering corporate sponsorship to venues such as Cawley stadiun, lelacher park etc. I ask what is wrong with a (for example) a coca-cola scoreboard at cawley stadium for $25,000 a year, Venues such as lelacher park are worth far more than that. I believe this should be looked at.

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

For starters, downtown has become a turnstile for small business. I will put a focus on attracting retail shops to the downtown. I do want to disclose that I am a liquor-license holder, restaurant/bar owner in the downtown. I believe the focus should be on retail from this point forward. Tanner street is slated for development, one of the only industrial-zoned land in the city. I will focus on attracting long-term businesses that bring the most jobs to lowell. The hamilton canal project is in the early stages, if it requires another parking garage to recruit businesses, I will support it. This new commercial tax revenue will be crucial in offsetting residential taxes. Lets not forget the old prince grotto location on gorham street, which I believe would be a good fit for relocating the high school.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

Left blank.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

For starters, I think there should be a residency requirement for the next manager. I would be looking for a well-rounded canidate that will have a backround in Finance, planning and community experience. I believe there would be great canidates in lowell and greater lowell.

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Genevieve Doyle

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

Safety - I grew up here and survived its schools. It is a tough city that tests you on many levels. Some people have an inability to overcome certain experiences and find themselves numbing their day to day lives with illegal or even legal substances. Police need support, The parks aren't safe, winter is coming and the sidewalks will most likely be un-shoveled. Umass has this beautiful expensive walk way from one building to Olsen Hall (which is great - I am not saying one or the other here. I believe in balance) while our children can't cross a main drag to go to a park that is too dangerous to play in.

Beauty A.K.A self-esteem (city-esteem) - I know but this has many different aspects to it. We subsidize many lifestyles here (people fall and need help getting up. Circumstances happen) If these people that are being supported by the city are able to work 5 - 20 hrs a week, at their own schedule, sweeping, picking up the parks, supporting the city that supports them. Again only if they are able and are not currently working.

Maintenance - We have a temporary bridge from 1986, the squiggly lines of tar attempting to patch up our roads become extremely icy in the winter time. We have a globally changing climate and multiple unused unmaintained pump houses through out this city encase the Merrimack decides it would like to get to know us better. Our sidewalks are in disrepair and even dangerous. I haven't seen a street sweeper in years, and I dig out my own sewer grates on Fisher and attempt all in vain to clean up the local parks.

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

Every neighborhood out there could use some TLC. We have tons of empty lots throughout we could utilize as Food gardens, allowing people who would love to compost but don't have the space to-to donate. As I wrote the streets and sidewalks alone could use some updating as well as brush along sidewalk-less walk ways that home owners are not maintaining. Boarded up and abandoned buildings should have a time limit attached to them - and if not in use in a certain time frame the city steps in. Even 133 could use a few panel replacements. We have a lot of drug dens and drug dealers in this city - and their neighbors know who they are so why can't we address this - this is throughout the city.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

We need to bring in more professional jobs. Right now Pharma is very big and Lowell hosts PAREXEL a well known company within the industry. But all industries ebb and flow and we would need to be able to adapt to the changing climates. As one door closes we open it for another company. We need carousel space. I think it would be ideal for the city to renovate what's left of the broken down Mills and turn it into large office space instead of more condominiums. The draw to this city has been its historic Industrial Revolution ties. We may want to offer property cheaply as we did decades ago when we sold the old Mills for a buck each to a contractor with a plan and money to back it up. I am sure we can implement something along those lines again but specifically commercially interested. We would need a person, perhaps a fulltime mayor to smooze the local industries that are looking for room to expand. As the position of Mayor and city council are volunteer positions most of us have to also carry a fulltime job. This does not mean this will not get done - it simply means this may take more time than if the council was allowed to fully dedicate their days to Lowell - of course in our hearts we all are.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

An understanding of basic Urbanaology and its modern day draw backs.
A world traveler and if lucky has experience working in other countries.
Connections.
Prior experience working with or running a city of at least 100,000 people.
Someone that understand the specific needs of a laborer's city as well as the needs of the professional commuter.
Someone who does not favor UMass over the children of the neighborhoods but looks for a balanced solution.
An ideology of progress and simplification; lack of nepotism and overall support for the people of this city.
Someone who will have the strength to put time limits on construction projects and demand a portion of the staff come from the city.
A person whole-heartedly against fixing only the nucleus of the city minimalizing the repairs (care) to the people of the neighborhoods.

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Stacie Hargis

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

Invest in public safety

Encourage new business growth

Champion our unique local businesses

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

Business districts throughout all our neighborhoods

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

As a city councilor, I will make supporting our local businesses a priority. After all, growing our community wealth supports Lowell families and benefits us all. I will draw upon my education and work experience to introduce big picture policies that can help us:

How do we do this?

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

Experienced administrator, a leader in transparent practices
Someone who will be active in the community
Can demonstrate an understanding of many cultures
Open to actively working with the council
Willingness to develop relationships across the region and state
Works well with state and federal delegation

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William Martin

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

1. Keep finances stable- it is the foundation to do everything else

2. Continue to suuport urban renewal plans to increase job opportunities and support first time homebuyer programs.

3. Fully fund school department

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

neighborhood business districts that exist along main thoroughfares in every neighborohood and those neighborhoods where the predominant housing stock is multi-family

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

continue to support urban renewal projects to attract new business to areas like the Hamilton Canal District-continue to work cooperatively with major non-profit employers like UMASS Lowell and Lowell General

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

A strong fiscal manager who is committed to attracting jobs, urban renewal, and revitalizing neighborhoods.

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Joseph Mendonca

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

1. Continue to improve the City's financial condition.

2. Continue to increase the efforts to maintain or improve the City's infrastructure - schools, municipal buildings, roads, sidewalks

3. Support economic development efforts (mainly by focusing on the first two priorities)

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

The neighborhood business districts need infrastructure improvements.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

By having a financially stable community, that has a record of infrastucture maintenance and does not have financial liabilities for benefits or infrastructure maintenance that could cause future spikes in taxes.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

Someone with experience running a municipality and State laws with regards to minicipalities and local taxation.

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Rick Misitano

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

1.) Increase public safety by expanding the volunteer Lowell Auxiliary Police Unit and develop an intermittent Reserve Unit for the Lowell Fire Department.

HOW: Develop a Reserve Police Unit and require its members to participate in the Northeast Regional Police Institute (NERPI) Reserve Police Academy enabling the unit expanded powers and responsibilities to provide broader operational support to regular full-time officers in an effort to lessen the need for overtime while providing greater public safety throughout the city, including the ability to fill police details to alcohol serving establishments in the city who request them.

Similar to my proposal for the Lowell Police Department, I will seek to develop an intermittent Reserve Unit for the Lowell Fire Department in an effort to prevent sporadic station closures throughout the city in order to provide full emergency coverage for the entire city (even during potential budget shortfalls) and control the need for overtime expenses.

2.) Work with the Lowell School Committee to improve our public school system.

HOW: Being a single parent of a child with special needs, I know first-hand the challenges a parent and family can face with such issues. Your child has the right to a proper and fair education regardless of their physical or mental challenges. Yet, despite such rights, children in need of such services are often overlooked and neglected by the very system we as taxpaying citizens employ and entrust to properly educate our kids. Public education is one of the most critical investments we can make and each child has a right to such an asset. If elected to the Lowell City Council, I will seek to develop a Special Education Advocacy Group and Volunteer Tutoring Services Collaborative to assist families with children who have special educational needs obtain the resources and support needed to ensure their child gets the proper education they deserve. No child should be left behind!

Education is the foundation of our youth's success in society, as it ensures achievement and prosperity, not only for the individual, but for society at large. If elected to the Lowell City Council, I will seek a commitment to providing better education for all of our youth and will urge all of us to strengthen our efforts to accelerate progress in improving access to quality education and student achievement throughout our school district.

I will work with the Lowell School Committee and the employees throughout our school system to seek out their opinions and ideas on how we can improve our educational system and include parents and their children as part of the decision making process. The Lowell Public School System is clearly faced with many challenges. Moving the proposed Lowell Plan forward for a new High School is certainly going to be one of them. Don't think for a moment that I will allow "special interests" to take control over your tax dollars and allow the developers to simply run with the project. I will demand total accountability and transparency throughout the process.

I completely respect, understand and realize that these are School Committee issues and my intent is not to step on anyone’s toes. However, no major capitol undertaking (such as a building a new high school) can be accomplished without the blessing of the City Council and the taxpayers of the City of Lowell. The other points I have mentioned are simply matters which I am very passionate about and my intent would merely be to present such concerns and suggestions (with the support of the City Council) to the School Committee for their hopeful review and sincere consideration in order to improve our educational system for our community at large. Such as developing a Career & Continuing Education Center at Lowell High School for graduating students not intending on pursuing a formal college degree that focuses on providing students with the education and resources needed for a successful life after graduation such as: job and career research and placement, personal budget and accounting management, resume writing, interview skills, child care resources and assistance.

3.) Capping the current base tax rates for residents and businesses and develop a “special assessment” option when certain tax increases might be needed in order to make such needed increases temporary vs. permanent.

HOW: No one likes to pay higher taxes! However, no politician should be able to look a tax payer straight in the eyes and make them a guarantee that there will never be any new taxes. However, I feel there are ways to keep the city’s base tax rate down and minimize the impact of any potential increases that might be occasionally needed in order to cover any urgent and unforeseen required expenses (without the need to permanently raise the current tax rates). Current tax rates for FY 2013 are $15.01 (Per $1,000 of assessed value for residential properties) and $31.32 for commercial. If allowed by law, this proposal would simply provide the tax payers of the City of Lowell an option to decide how they would like to pay for certain unforeseen expenses that may occur from time to time when additional funds are needed to quickly cover any potential shortfalls within the city’s budget in order to meet the needs of the city.

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

There are many areas of the city that are in need of beautification and repair.

City government should seek out the concerns, opinions and ideas of various neighborhood groups and businesses throughout the city in order to develop ideas on how to address such issues, such as embracing Habitat for Humanity and other non-profit volunteer housing groups in addition to seeking out various community HUD programs in addition to programs available through the Small Business Association. Improving our roads and infrastructure in addition to keeping our community clean should also remain a priority across the entire city.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

Keeping the city's economic development moving forward by continuing the city's revitalization initiatives.

HOW: Provide a variety of tax incentives to new and existing businesses. Develop a shared advertising and marketing collaborative for small businesses. Promote and expand open space and beautification initiatives throughout the city. Offer reduced fees for renovation developers. Expanding Lowell’s Farmer’s Market, Fourth of July & Winter Fest celebrations and the Lowell Folk Festival. If allowed under the new Massachusetts Gaming Laws, seek out a feasibility plan to develop a charitable small scale gaming facility to help local charitable organizations raise money for local causes. Organize weekend sidewalk sales events for all downtown retail businesses to showcase all retailers in the city. Ensure the city’s continued participation in National Night Out, a nationwide event that aims to bring law enforcement, businesses, residents and kids together in a fun positive way that brings the community together. Work with the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce & Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau to organize “Phantom Gourmet” types of events to promote the restaurant businesses throughout the city.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

I personally feel the current drafted qualifications that have been established and adopted for the position of City Manager are adequate. However, I would seek to change the City Manager position from a “contracted” position to an “At-Will” exempt employee. Nevertheless (should it be the desire of the majority of the council) I would consider negotiating a new limited term contract containing clearly defined responsibilities and expectations for such a position and ensure there are provisions included to establish protections for the city for instances of non-performance.

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Derek Mitchell

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

Investment in schools, including capital spending. More importantly, better coordination around social services available to students and their families and use of facilities during non-school hours. I believe that as our schools go, so goes our community.

Clean and safe streets are paramount for citizens to feel safe and want to invest; simultaneously, the psychological impact of being afraid and seeing trash on the streets only contributes to those issues (ie, broken window theory). I recognize the role the city needs to play in leading on these issues, but I also see an area for more involvement from the residents to ensure that our community is safe and clean.

Continued investment in the business districts, including--but not limited to-- the downtown. The connection between parking, public and alternative transportation, business support services and placemaking will make small business development and growth possible, as well as celebrate the unique characteristics of each neighborhood.

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

As mentioned in the previous question, I would like to invest more in the neighborhood business districts as areas that are both important corridors for transport and placemaking as well as for business development and local job creation. Specifically, the entry points to the city-- Rogers St., Chelmsford St., Middlesex St., Bridge St., etc.-- are pivotal for how people connect with other towns and other neighborhoods.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

I think it’s a combination of recruiting companies from the outside and growing them from the inside. A strong reputation and professional interface with city hall has a large impact on potential investors, as do strong institutions like schools and roads. I believe the university could be more of an economic driver if we could get more UML students to stay in Lowell post graduation; the surplus of well educated, young talent could be a magnet for growing companies.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

I believe the ability to manage financial systems (including city-wide budget, contract negotiations, and future investments) are vital skills in a professional manager. The manager should be able to operate the city on a day to day level being mindful of legal and procedural limits. As a councilor, I would like to invest energy in the strategic planning for the city, inclding broad participation from various parts of the community. While it is the City Manager's responsibility to implement such a plan, it should be the councils responsibility (as the elected representatives of the community) to ensure that such a plan has buy in and is understood across the community. Moreover, I would like to champion such a plan, being the face of the community to increase PR, support outside investment and celebrate all that goes well in our city every day.

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Van Pech

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

1. Public Safety Services

2. Representation All Our Neighborhoods

3. Government Accessibility

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

All of the neighborhoods in the City. All areas deserve equal attention and redevelopment.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

We have to support curent local businesses in the community and their success will encourage other businesses to look to Lowell to establish their foundation.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

These are some qualities that we should look for in a City Manager: experience in running a large urban community, proven track record in finance and government, record of working collaboratively with different entities in the best interest of the community.

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William Samaras

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

My top priority would be to establish a culture of collaboration and teamwork throughout local government, both internally within members of council chamber working with the administration in a professional manner, as well as teaming with local institutions and stakeholders to take advantage of unique opportunities for partnership in the City of Lowell.

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

There is no one answer to this question. There must be a constant total review of the needs of the entire city.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

It all goes back to utilizing our resources, including our partnerships with the University, the Community College, Lowell General Hospital, and the entrepreneurs who have invested in our city to create new opportunities for an expanded workforce.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

I would look to bring in an experienced, professional manager with a track record of results.

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Matthew Vieira

Name your top priorities (up to three) for Lowell if you get elected.

Economic Development

Public Safety

Return the Government to the people

What areas other than downtown do you see a need for attention or redevelopment?

There is no one part of the city that does not need attention or attempt at redevelopment. While Lowell is an extraordinary city, we too need to continue to do what is necessary to make it strive. We need to be a model for other communities across the state with a thriving successful economy. This cannot be done without the proper redevelopment. While much of the attention is put on downtown and the empty storefronts through Merrimack, Market, and Central streets we too much put attention on other parts of the city. There are areas of Belvedere, Pawtucketville, Acre, Highlands, and Centreville that too need their own tweaking. The ultimate goal is for Lowell to be a model, to be a leader, to lure businesses to not only come into the city as an entrepreneur, but we want them to succeed and to grow within. We want families to bring their children here, and raise a family. To do this, we need to redevelop across the board; we need to assure that all neighborhoods no matter race or ethnicity live off of the same development platform as their surrounding neighborhoods.

How do we address economic development in the city, and bring in more jobs?

There is a lot to be said about economic development in the city. First and foremost, we need to reevaluate and head back to the drawing board as to the weight of for profit businesses compared non-profit businesses. There needs to be a balance between the two. When you have more businesses not paying taxes than you do paying taxes, we’ve got a problem. Secondly, we need to cap our commercial tax rate so that we do not hit the $30 per thousand markers. Lowering the tax rate for businesses (especially the smaller businesses) would be attractive to these folks, but we to need to revitalize our infrastructure as well to not only be financially attractive, but physically attractive as well.

There is a need to discuss with the economic development subcommittee; a new way of compensating those within that department. A commission based pay scale would prove beneficial to the city and it’s strives for economic development. When you bring the business in, you get your check; otherwise you receive a base pay. As a city we ought to strive off of economic development, and it should be the job of the City Manager, as well as the City Council to assist in promoting this great city and all that we have to offer to current and future entrepreneurs. Another factor I would like to revisit would be returning the bus transportation to the downtown Lowell area.

I believe in a proactive form of development, as opposed to the current reactive form we have now.

If, for any reason, the next City Council has to hire a new City Manager, what are the qualifications you would be looking for?

The following qualifications would be:

An individual that can perform this job successfully, someone that is able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The individual should be able to read and analyze and interpret plans and specifications, contracts, ordinances, financial reports and legal documents. Someone able to present reports and recommendations to the council while being able to communicate effectively. An effective leader is one that can apply principles of logical thinking to a range of intellectual and practical problems. He or she must be able to deal with a variety of abstract and concrete variables. Other requirements would be an individual that has considerable knowledge of laws, regulations, and ordinances. He or she shall be trustworthy, someone whom can be entrusted to hold the key to the city and its future by working with the councilors and working with the best interests of taxpayers in mind.

As a councilor, I have no intent of hiring a new City Manager, but I plan to propose a charter change from a plan E form of government to plan A. That being said, it is in hope that the people of Lowell will have the opportunity to ELECT the person they feel shall succeed Bernie Lynch.

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