Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Helping One Another or Just Helping Ourselves?

Maybe you’ve made your mind up about who to vote for, or in some cases, against, next Tuesday for Norwich City Council. If so, I envy you. We’ve had ample opportunities to hear from those seeking office. And I thank them for their service and selflessness. But I still have questions and maybe you do too.

Here’s some of what I would ask the candidates. 

Each of you tells voters you love Norwich; of course you do. You certainly didn't offer to run for city council for that monthly stipend of $100. But quite frankly, love of Norwich isn't a reason to vote for anyone ever. What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you bring to the next City Council, and once elected how do you integrate your talents with those of the other six members also selected for the Council?

There is a small city of volunteers spread across dozens of agencies, boards, commissions, and committees, working on a dazzling variety and number of projects for the betterment of the city, each pulling on an oar in the boat we see as the good ship Norwich all navigating in some choppy seas.

How do you as a member of the City Council more effectively coordinate and harness the time and talents of so many energetic and generous Norwich neighbors to get better results by defining and refining goals and objectives, establishing milestones and creating a measurement/evaluation system that feeds back to the City Council and Mayor on the progress of our pilgrims?

A scarcely noticed news headline from earlier this fall confirmed Norwich has returned to the "Top 25" of the State of Connecticut's List of Distressed Municipalities (moving from #31 to #18). I think we can all agree that the causes are myriad but more importantly underscore how complicated municipal governance is today.  

As a member of our next City Council, what do you see as your role and the Council's in enhancing our community's quality of life and spurring economic development?  And how do you/your fellow council members create the conditions that allow and encourage such growth to occur?

From what I’ve heard and read this campaign, the next 'silver bullet solution' for what ails Norwich could be 'developing Shipping Street and the Harbor.'  The downtown development bond passed by voters nearly a half decade ago to spur growth in Down City is still a work in progress and opinions differ on how much progress has actually been made. 

What lessons do you draw from previous development and stimulus efforts and how do you apply them to what you see as the next chapter of the Norwich story.

People prefer problems that are familiar to solutions which are not. How would you move us from continuously talking about our challenges and mobilize us to roll up our sleeves and develop solutions?

Albert Einstein said if you want different results do not keep doing the same things. Are you someone different? And, if so, how are you someone better?    

-bill kenny

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