Candidate 2 of 4 has responded to our interview. Here is what our neighbor Roger Ruggles says:
The following are my responses to the questions that you posed:
1) Could you give us your goals for the city's neighborhoods?
Re-establishing the city's neighborhoods is one of my highest priorities. Neighborhoods with strong identities foster a strong city. With the influx of new residents into the city the traditional neighborhoods are slipping away. The problem is that we as a city are not evolving with this new demographic. My goals are to develop ways in which neighborhoods can establish their identity and then provide ways in which that identity can grow. The primary methods of accomplishing this would be through existing neighborhood organizations and other established organizations within each neighborhood. As a council member I would be eager to work with these organizations to develop ways to improve all of the city's neighborhoods.
2) What is your recreation plan?
I believe that the recreation activities available to the residents of the city needs to be significantly expanded. Initially I would focus on youth recreation and ways in which we can enhance the experiences that the children receive. This would first focus on current demand and how the recreational facilities of the city are positioned to meet that demand. Developing the facilities to accommodate the needs of the city's residents is essential to the development of a strong recreational program. I believe that much of this development can be accomplished through private donations as we have seen in the recently proposed field-house project. As we continue to develop the facilities we also have to develop the structure of support for the program that includes recruiting and training of coaches, identifying volunteers and providing the necessary equipment. The benefits of this plan are obvious to both the participants and the city.
My secondary work on recreation would be to expand the program to the adult population of the city. Adult recreation in the city could develop a sense of community and provide for the participants a healthy alternative for their free time.
3) How would you work with the block watch and neighborhood associations?
I am a supporter of both the block watch and neighborhood organizations. As a council member I would make every effort to work closely with these and other non-profit organizations in the city to improve our community. My efforts would include developing ways to enhance communication between the city and these organizations or individuals, identify and help pursue external funding sources, attend meetings, and be available to all to discuss goals and objectives of both the organizations and the city. Through working together we will only improve our city.
4)What can be done to foster a fair, equitable, and profitable partnership with Lafayette College?
As a faculty member at Lafayette College I am very aware of the positive impact that the college can provide to the city and the importance of the city to the college. Both the city and the college benefit from the other. As a member of city council I believe that I would be a bridge that could develop a relationship between the city and the college that is fair, equitable, and profitable for both. The college's investment in and future development of the N. Third St. And Snyder St. Corridors could provide a significant positive impact on the city. I believe that I am in a unique position to insure that both the city and the college interests can be merged to the benefit of all.
5) If you had to raise a tax today, would you raise a business or residential tax?
To answer the question I would have to say that I would raise the business tax. I am not in favor of raising ANY taxes. During my campaign as I walked throughout the city I heard on several occasions that a life long resident of the city feared that they would have to move out of the city in the next few years because of increasing taxes and cost of services (water, sewer, and garbage). These residents told me that they could no longer afford to live in the city. This to me is totally unacceptable. City council and all of city government needs to understand the financial burden that is being placed on both residents and businesses and work to improve the situation.
6) What are your opinions on the Amusement/Mechanical Devices Tax?
I am in favor of this tax. I believe that it needs some modifications to its current form but that opportunity will occur in three years under the current legislation. We need to closely monitor the implementation of this tax and identify the areas that need improvement.
7) What are your opinions about our property tax?
As I stated previously I believe that our property taxes are too high when life long residents of the city are considering moving because they can no long afford to live here. New ideas and methods of handling the financial obligations of the city, decreasing expenditures and increasing revenue are needed.
8) What are your opinions of the sewer, water, and garbage fees?
Again we are addressing a cost to the residents of the city. These fees are very high and we need to find ways to reduce them. During this next year the city will be negotiating a new garbage contract. Developing methods of reducing our waste stream are very important. Recycling programs are in the process of being developed within the city and these will provide some relief. Keeping the residents of the city informed about these measures is essential. I believe that we can continue to do more. Conservation, planning, and wise use of our resources can control costs and reduce future increases.
9) What are your opinions on the proposed rental inspection ordinance?
The second most complaint of residents of the city that I heard during my travels through the city in this campaign was the negative impact of rental properties on the neighborhoods. While I found that there were many rental properties that were in very poor shape I did find properties that are well maintained and a benefit to the neighborhood. I am in favor of a rental inspection program that addresses the former but that encourages the later. I believe that the current legislation falls short of this.
10) Are the city's services sufficient?
Overall I believe that the city is providing good services to the residents. There are many areas that need improvement but most of the city workers that I have met who provide those services are hard working and serious about their responsibilities to the residents of the city. Better planning on how to provide city services is needed and this planning will result in lower costs and a higher level of service to the residents.
11) Do you have any plans that specifically affect city services?
Yes I do. I want to use my experience in planning and my leadership abilities to identify the service areas that need improvement and develop ways in which they can be improved. As I responded in the previous question, " I believe that the city is providing good services to the residents" but I also believe that those services can be improved and cost of those services can be reduced.
12) What are your plans for public works?
The City of Easton is a relatively old community. The infrastructure of the city is in most cases also old and is being taxed by the demand of our modern society. The area of public works in the city has seen significant improvement in recent years. We do however need to develop an accurate inventory of city's infrastructure and upon completing that inventory develop a plan to maintain and improve the various components. My expertise as a licensed professional civil engineer will be a significant benefit to city council in this area.
13) What are your plans for emergency service?
The city's emergency services provide very good coverage to city residents. Response times are short and the capabilities are good. I do believe that we can improve the emergency response system through continuous evaluation.
14) Would you be willing to work on the daunting task of regionalizing/combining service? If yes what areas?
Yes, I would and I would expect all members of city council to do the same. I believe that this is one of the many ways in which we can lower costs while maintaining or improving services. Currently, the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority is a board (on which I am a member) that has representatives from all the member municipalities. This authority functions very well and is a model of inter-municipality cooperation.
The areas that could be regionalized or combined need to be determined. This has to be done in conversations with the surrounding municipalities and with the understanding that we will not adversely affect current municipal employees.
15) Would it be fair and/or appropriate to appoint non- residents to city boards/commissions?
I would only be in favor of appointing non-residents to boards or commissions if (a) we were unable to find a city resident that was qualified or (b) if the non-resident had specific skills that were required and we could not identify in a city resident with those same skills.
16) Should the city's directors/top level managers be required to maintain residency?
Yes, I believe that they should. I do not believe that we should make individuals who currently hold those positions move into the city but I do believe that future hires should have this requirement. We would not tolerate a member of city council or the mayor living outside the city why would we accept something different from the city's directors/top level managers?
17) Is a part time city council effective enough?
Not when the city council believes that it is part time. We all know that the city is in a serious condition and it is going to take extra effort to turn the city around. When members of city council consider themselves as ONLY part time and do not provide that extra effort the city will suffer. I believe that the part time designation of the city council member is adequate but I believe that significant time needs to be invested by each council member into the city's problems. When I decided to run for city council this was one of the issues that I considered. I plan to invest the time necessary to turn the city around.
Candidate for Easton City Council