The Roundup sent questionnaires to every candidate for this year’s municipal election. In an effort to properly inform voters, their answers are unedited. The goal is to give the candidates the opportunity to offer their thoughts on issues directly to their constitutes. In return, it gives voters the opportunity to formulate their own decisions on what they have to say.
Next up is David Preleski incumbent City Councilor for the Second District.
What are your most pressing issues?
The most pressing issues are economic development with the mission of attracting business to Bristol, specifically in the targeted areas downtown. Another pressing issue is planning for the future budget pressures. We need to create a bi-partisan committee to review how we conduct business in Bristol. If the state pushes expenses down to the town level, most towns will be hard pressed to adjust. I want to be pro-active and set some more aggressive budgeting guidelines and re-engineer how we do things. I see so much potential in combining activities and creating efficiencies. With that in mind, we have the Memorial Boulevard building project. I think that building is a key for us. The plan for a magnet school is a good one and one in which we can expand into other key areas. I want to have a seat at the table as we move forward. We need to balance the need to have a good strategy with the building with potential pressures on taxes.
How do you feel about Bristol’s marketing efforts, what would you suggest?
The BDA and city took control of the marketing initiatives that were formerly shared with the Chamber. We hired new, experienced staff but I think we need to suggest to the marketing committee that specific strategies be put in place. We just implemented new incentives for downtown. Now the challenge is to create a plan to effectively market those incentives. We can have all the best programs available but if nobody knows about them, they are useless.
How do your thoughts and ideas differ from your opponent(s)?
I’m not sure I can answer that. I know that Jodi Zils-Gagne has told me several times that she has no financial acumen and that’s not her strength. I don’t think Andrew Howe has taken any public positions on these topics. I can tell you that I have a great deal of experience in formulating these types of strategies so I am hopeful to have a part of the next step
What are your thoughts on Bristol Hospital purchasing a portion of the former mall site? Will it help revitalize downtown?
I am positive about it and voted for it publicly. It’s not the ideal use for the property and I don’t like the amount of surface parking but I think it’s an important first step. Developers are a skeptical breed. If the hospital building creates the foot traffic we hope for and there are 250 employees who make a pretty good wage, development logic suggests that they will want to meet after work for a bite to eat or something to drink socially. The trickle-down theory says success breeds success. If a market is created, other developers will want a piece of that market. That, too, is why we created other incentives so to be able to meet the expected or anticipated requests for help.
What is your position on moving City Hall?
We will need to make significant improvements to the current city hall in the near term. Projections are around $22 million over time. This analysis was done to compare what we may need to spend at the MBS site. I prefer to see if the MBS site can be used for a school before we consider it for city hall. I am not opposed to moving city hall but it has to be part of priorities we establish based on what is practical and what we can afford.
Will you support a tax increase if it’s the last resort?
If it’s a last resort, there is no other choice. However, we need to continually dig deep before we get to that point. This is precisely why need candidates like Ellen, Peter Kelley and me (not to mention some of our candidates with significant business experiences) so we can stay pro-active.
What is your stance on crime in Bristol?
I like our police chief. I speak with him often and he is very responsive to me. He gets the importance of a lowering crime rate, community involvement, and interaction for his rank and file officers. Both to ensure the safety of our residents, we need a strong, engaged police force.
Is social media helping or hurting Bristol at the moment?
I’m prejudiced because I see more negativity on social media. It’s so easy to be critical and hide behind what looks like to me as anonymous posts. People need to understand that we have a great deal of work to do to promote Bristol. We can put all the efforts into a marketing campaign we want but if criticize without being constructive or offer solutions, we dilute all the positive efforts. Citizens have the right to free speech and I respect that and I always listen. Unfortunately, sometimes its all misdirected and not well thought out.
I am running for office to make sure we have someone with a strong financial and business background to address critical issues we will face this year and next. I want to stay close to the development of Centre Square and work on efficiency issues within the city. The last 2 years in office gave me critical insight to how we do business in city hall and I hope to use that experience to our advantage if re-elected.