Freeport has turned a corner since dealing with a rash of theft by city staff. What would you do as a council member to keep the city on its current path and retain quality staff?
Commit to Higher Standards I’m a big believer in the adage “It always starts at the top”, in reflecting the culture and mindset of ANY organization; be it public, private, or governmental. We must continue to strive to improve the methods and tools for Communication and Transparency FROM our City Leadership, FOR our Citizens and Guests. It’s not enough to have ethical guidelines for staff alone. We must commit to higher standards city-wide. Every Council Member and Citizen must persist in demanding honest and ethical behavior of city staff by encouraging the free exchange of information and implementing more tools for transparency.
Accountability “It takes longer to build trust than to lose trust. “ As Council members, not only must we have the Conviction of implementing ethical rules and behavior, but also have the Courage to enforce the rules and hold each staff member accountable. Additionally, every Freeport Citizen must remain committed to helping hold up the new standards of integrity within our City Hall!
Celebrate our Wins Lastly, we MUST PROMOTE Freeport’s Wins and Positives. A great example of that is the Outstanding Community Outreach our Police Chief, Chief Garivey, has undertaken via Social Media to help cultivate a trusting and accessible police department. The Freeport Community is super-proud of our men and women in Blue, because of their shared community involvement postings on FB which only enhances the community’s trust through their Accessibility.
As a member of Council it is imperative that each member remain accessible and promote the needs and successes of their Respective Wards, to help in restoring the public’s faith in their tax dollars at work in their neighborhoods, and in turn, retain the public’s trust and perception of city staff. Using the Facebook for these positive communications has proven successful by our Chief.
With $17 million allocated for water and sewer capital projects, what streets, drainage and infrastructure projects would you prioritize?
Water and Sewer Water and Sewer Projects are at the top of the list of Infrastructure Must Do’s. And the ones that should be addressed first are the ones with greatest impact per dollar and days spent. But make no mistake, the fixes must not be stop gap fillers…but true near term and longterm enhancements that help us to grow and attract new families and businesses to our unique and thriving community.
Street Lights Additionally, I would be focused on ensuring that all Street Lighting Infrastructure is improved and maintained i.e., our main entry along 288, the major intersections in each Ward, and all along our river and park walkways. The lighting maintenance for Freeport is one of my personal priorities. Freeport is too dark at night. Our neighborhoods are too dark. It is a safety issue with an easy fix. There SHOULD NOT be any streetlamps with Non-working light bulbs. And there are TOO many. Citizens need to help remind City Hall which lights are out. And an information sharing forum, perhaps on the city’s Facebook page, would be a useful reminder/FYI tool to help ensure our streetlamps are maintained. All hands-on deck.
Technology Infrastructure Lastly, another infrastructure item that does not get enough attention is Wi-Fi and fiber optics. With the current Pandemic Student Distant Learning, it is important that the city helps our area school children to have access to free Wi-Fi and internet to keep pace in their academic growth. Freeport could potentially provide a discounted cable service utility along with free Wi-Fi for residents and local businesses. We gotta start thinking outside the box! Be creative and innovative in ways that keep Freeport’s future relevant and vibrant! We have to be diligent in improving Freeport’s basic functionality, overall safety, and valuable quality of life.
What role should the city take in Port Freeport’s plans to remove the final residents out of the East End? The East End is a highly charged topic with some deep-rooted emotions from many sides. No doubt, the Port is economically important to our city and county. And, no doubt the families that still live in the East End feel the same about their homes and history. Unfortunately, we find ourselves now at a place where previous planning and organization did not occur – and now the sins of our past leadership has come to bear, That said, there are laws in place to help to ensure the Port’s growth is possible yet responsible. And, the City of Freeport and remaining residents of the East End need to act deliberately to ensure those rules are followed. To what degree and in what manner…well the devil is in the details…but, as proven in the past, Everything is negotiable. It’s not a clear-cut issue without costs and sacrifices. But there can be a way forward for all parties. Though the City of Freeport has limited legal authority in the way of private property, it still owns the streets and controls the zoning. The stance that the City has a moral obligation to the remaining residents of the East End is not without merit. But I would argue that the City has an even greater obligation to clearly communicate its expectations of the Port, that establishes clear boundaries, guidelines, and precedents to help ensure mutually beneficial growth and allocation, while ensuring the residents of Freeport in other neighborhoods the long term security in their homestead. That said, even if tomorrow every remaining resident agreed to sell to the Port for a handsome price, the City should work to ensure that Freeport’s remaining interest are not sacrificed without sufficient compensation as well as preserving all future checks and balances on the Port.