The third question in InstantnewsBellaire’s Q&A series with Bellaire City Council candidates deals with improvements to city services.
We asked candidates:
What area of city service do you believe needs most improvement and what steps would you initiate to make those improvements?
Here are the answers from the three candidates for Place 6 on the council. Scroll to the bottom for information on the procedures of this Q&A.
With all the talk of a comprehensive plan and looking into the future, does anyone see how ragged our city is looking with our current infrastructure. When the city leaders are talking about placing brickwork in interchanges to give Bellaire the upscale look, the paint at our current intersections is faded and gives us that tired look. Hey city leaders, a fresh coat of paint cannot be as expensive as redoing an intersection with bricks. Until we get on the other side of this economic downturn, let us keep up what we have. You do not need to hire consultants or engineers to put a nice coat of paint on the streets and bike lanes.
We have a million dollar pool next to city hall with no parking; and we have the delightful legacy Evergreen pool, with parking, that has more customers that is not being maintained. We need to take care of what we have now.
My focus on City Council would be to use our limited dollars on maintaining our current infrastructure in the most cost-effective method. I am a frugal guy. Raising 6 children forced us to squeeze the most out of every dollar. If you want a Budget Hawk on City Council, I am your man.
I believe we are fortunate in Bellaire to receive high quality services from all of our City departments. From public safety to city administration and finance, and from public works to parks and recreation and the library, we have employees who are committed to serving the Bellaire community.
The “area of city service” that I think could use the most improvement is not one of these traditional services, but what I would call the City’s communication service. The City has a great deal of information to share with its residents, on topics as varied as the matters being addressed by City Council and the City Boards and Commissions; updates on ongoing infrastructure and City facility projects; advisories about upcoming City events; and general information about the City, its departments, and the services it offers.
The good news is that the City already makes all of this information (and more) available to residents on the City’s website, and even allows residents to sign up for email updates about topics of particular interest to them. The bad news is that few residents take advantage of the opportunity to regularly review this information, and that many residents are not aware of issues being addressed by the City and of events that are taking place in the City.
I think the primary reason for many residents’ inattentiveness is that they are generally satisfied with the “state of the City,” but I also believe that having more people aware of and participating in City affairs would be a benefit to all of us. I believe the City should investigate other options for providing information to and engaging residents, for example through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, as well as through hard copy offerings for residents who prefer that format.
This is a vital question that deserves a straightforward answer. Our city’s emergency services need improvement. Let me start my analysis by mentioning that, as I have walked every single block of Bellaire, I have heard a common compliant from our neighbors: our streets are often fixed multiple times for no apparent reason. Is the cement faulty? No. Is the workmanship lousy? No. It seems that sometimes the left hand of our city government does not know what the right hand is doing. Duplications often result, and inefficiencies occur. This costs us taxpayer money and robs us of our confidence in our city government.
The best (or perhaps worst) example of this confusion was found during Hurricane Ike, with disastrous results. As we all remember too well, a few days before impact it became clear that we would be hit by a major hurricane. Yet, there was no plan to prepare for an impending lack of power. There were no daily meetings at City Hall to update citizens and discuss what could be done to alleviate the tremendous needs in our community.
This lack of focus especially hurt our senior citizens and our children. How many people realize that we have residents in Bellaire whose very businesses afford them easy access to huge commercial amounts of ice? Yet, these resources were never tapped. I have spoken to a local resident who would like to become part of the solution. What does he bring to the table? A can-do attitude and a warehouse full of ice.
As a member of Bellaire City Council, I will spearhead preparation for the next natural or man-made disaster. I hope that we will never need such plans. However, history has taught us that having unprepared emergency services is not the right approach.
In this series, candidates receive questions twice per week and have 24 hours to respond with an answer that is less than 300 words long. The answers publish with no editing. Do you have a question for candidates about Bellaire issues? Please email it to agrant [at] instantnewsbellaire [dot] com.