The Roundup sent questionnaires to every candidate in Bristol and Burlington 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 incumbent Mary Fortier Council District 3 (D).
What are your most pressing issues?
My number one issue is getting Ellen Zoppo-Sassu elected, because with Ellen leading Bristol everything will be different. People will have a chance to participate more fully in the business of running our city: boards and commissions will have a more meaningful role in policy, communication and transparency will increase and our city employees will be respected. People will get answers when they ask questions. We won’t spend $80,000 a year on attorneys fighting Freedom of Information claims. Transparency brings integrity.Q3
How do you feel about Bristol’s marketing efforts, what would you suggest?
I am glad the effort has been made to market Bristol. The Marketing Committee and the BDA have worked hard. There is lots of potential, but we still have lots of work to do so that there continues to be something to market.
How do your thoughts and ideas differ from your opponent(s)?
I think all the council candidates have similar positions on many issues. I think the biggest difference is who we support for mayor. I think we will get a lot more accomplished with Ellen as mayor. She will be a breath of fresh air for city hall and her ability to bring people together will surprise a lot of people.
What are your thoughts on Bristol Hospital purchasing a portion of the former mall site? Will it help revitalize downtown?
I voted against the initial proposal by the hospital to purchase property downtown. I did not think it fit into the vision of a mixed use, walkable downtown. I did not think it would change the demographics of our city or make our downtown a destination. I still don’t. Later, I did vote for the sale because at the time it didn’t seem like any other option was possible. Will it revitalize downtown? Time will tell whether any portion of the vision many of us had will be fulfilled.
What is your position on moving City Hall?
When the Council was recently presented with all the problems in the current city hall building I liked the idea of moving City Hall to the MBS building because it would be a way to maintain and support the building so the theater could be sustainable, particularly since the current administration has not been as supportive of the MBS project as it should have been. Since then, we have other options, with the possible magnet school and 10 Main St. We have to wait for more information to decide what options are the best and most feasible.
Will you support a tax increase if it’s the last resort?
Tax increases are always a last resort, and there are ways to invest our money wisely that don’t increase taxes. The only way the tax rate won’t increase is if the value of the property in Bristol increases. Therefore, we have to invest money strategically in things that increase the value of Bristol, most importantly the value of Bristol to young families. I strongly supported all-day kindergarten in Bristol and I voted for a tax increase in order to make that happen but I believe that contributed to increasing the value of Bristol.
What is your stance on crime in Bristol?
I think the police department does a good job fighting crime in Bristol. I am a big fan of our Police Chief. He is engaged in Bristol and willing to work with anyone to make Bristol better. However, fighting crime is not just the job of the police. Fighting the underlying causes of crime is a much bigger job and includes the whole community, not just police. As Ellen has stated several times recently, property crimes have increased in Bristol and are related to the opioid epidemic which needs to be addressed.
Is social media helping or hurting Bristol at the moment?
Social media is part of the explosion of information available to us. Unfortunately, the increase in the quantity of news has not increased the quality. Dis-information can spread very quickly, and the lack of high quality journalism locally makes the negative impact even stronger. This combination is hurting Bristol right now.
Thanks for giving everyone the opportunity to voice their opinions!
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