This past Monday we finally had our first Mayoral Forum, a chance for you the voters to hear where the candidates for office stand.
What follows are my observations about the forum, the candidates and the answers they gave. I hope you'll share yours.
The forum was originally to be held at the Elks and was moved to Cavalry Temple. Apparently the space at the Elks was not handicap accessible, a big thanks has to go to the folks at Cavalry Temple for coming to the rescue. The Forum was intended to include all the mayoral contenders but two decided not to show up. Honestly to be blunt if Mike Raposa doesn't want to come that's fine, he just isn't a serious candidate but for Mayor Correia to dodge this is inexcusable. I could understand if it were due to a family emergency or something to that effect, but it was explained that Save Our Neighborhoods, who sponsored the forum, went out of their way to accommodate the Mayor giving him the first pick of dates. For the Mayor to suddenly have a conflict is unacceptable. I'm certain at whatever political event the Mayor felt he needed to attend his absence would have been understood.
The forum featured 10 questions and a closing statement. I will attempt to highlight each topic and provide my reactions to the candidate’s responses. I will use MA for Manny Alves, SC for Steve Camara, WF for Will Flanagan, RH for Ray Hague and CAV for Cathy Ann Viveiros and score how I think each of them did from 1 to 5; Five being the best and 1 the worst.
Zoning & Appeals
MA - Basically thought that the existing laws needed to be followed.
SC - He would have Neighborhood representatives be part of the process to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods.
WF - He used the word 'ensure' a lot but I wasn't sure he answered the question! He did speak about having resumes (of the zoning board members?) be on public file, this struck me as an Eric Poulin idea from 2007.
RH - Stressed that he had dealt with these issues on the city council and as mayor would ban lawyers who did work from the city from coming before the zoning board.
CAV - Stated she would make sure all zoning members were fully trained and that they would be held accountable. My take on it was better training = better decisions. She also talked about increasing the raduis of notification and having work plans for each neighborhood.
MA - 1 SC - 4 WF - 2 RH - 3 CAV - 5
Adult Entertainment - How would the future mayor deal with the issue of Adult Entertainment?
SC - He would establish a zone in the Industrial Park. He has worked on this on the council; the zone would not be near the entrances but near the landfill. Adult entertainment should disrupt the serenity of our neighborhoods
WF - He believes we should restrict through regulation. He would regulate strict hours of operation and the size of such a facility. He would prohibit alcohol and the tipping of the employees. He vows to personally fight this battle in court. That's a nice gimmicky gesture but the concept of the Attorney Mayor is stupid. You can't be in court and run the city too.
RH - He points out that he has battled this on the council and that the result has been no strip clubs have yet been established and a 750ft. buffer zone is in place. He would examine the options of both zones and regulations.
CAV - She would be proactive in the fight and establish a zone, and review all possible options for a zone. This seems like back to square one to me.
MA - He echoes the answer of WF - sometimes it is good to be last, you can chose the best answer.
MA - 2 SC - 4 WF - 5 RH - 3 CAV - 1
Drugs - How would the future Mayor handle the issues associated with drugs in our city?
WF - He would work closely with our police, it sounded like micromanage to me! Where will he find time to run the police department, run the city and handle a case in court? He would restore our levels of public safety by cutting from the top! I'm not sure if the math will work out there. Says unlike Bob he won't hire a press secretary, he can speak for himself. My thought: Bob has a press secretary?? There is someone who is not doing a good job.
RH - This was one I thought Ray would nail but he rambles about the current administration and then says he'll cut administrators and put public safety people back to work.
CAV - She would educate our landlords (educated landlords = better tenants). She would educate our code enforcers. Focus on getting rid of bad landlords and focus on trouble properties.
MA - Honestly I couldn't understand 1/2 of what Manny said. I heard the words police, fire, neighborhood partnerships.
SC - He would address the layoffs in the police department and work with neighborhood associations.
MA -1 SC - 4 WF - 3 RH - 2 CAV -5
Surplus Schools - What would the future mayor do with our surplus school buildings
RH - He would sell certain schools and raze others to create parkland.
CAV - She would have neighborhood forums so they could weigh in on how they should be developed. She would look for development plans (RFP's?) that were specific to area needs and work to get them "back" on the tax roles. (of course they never were on the tax roles to begin with but I digress...)
MA - He would have neighborhood forums, and preserve historic buildings (how without money??) Make sure any RFP's had a reverter clause.
SC - He would utilize neighborhood forums so they could weigh in how they should be developed, mentions the possibility of a home for the Children's Museum. Spent a lot of time talking about how these should already be in the hands of the city council and all the delays.
WF - Neighborhood forums! Spoke about using some for specific uses, such as bringing a children's museum to Fall River (I think he meant find a home for the one we have! ooops!) He referred to Need Centers, which I think stood for Neighborhood Economic Development Centers. Nice idea, sounds similar to Mayor Correia's learning centers. Why couldn't we use the new schools?
MA - 2 SC - 3 WF 4 RH - 1 CAV - 5
Part II, the remaining questions, closing statements and final thoughts - coming soon