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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Stephen Kennedy, write-in candidate for mayor

 

Former council member Stephen Kennedy knows it will not be easy to win on write in votes, but he feels the town needs leadership. Something he feels the council has not had for the last four years. 

“I think we have become a town that is top heavy in management. If elected Mayor I’m going to make a concerted effort to look at every job in the town from the top to the bottom. Are we doing it best, are the people in those positions the best suited, and are they protecting the town’s assets the way they should?”

Kennedy feels the town should be run like a business, “I don’t think it is, if businesses where run like this town they would be out of business!”

Furthermore Kennedy feels the town lacks a good communication network between the council and the town manager. “I think there is conflict there that is not necessary.” 

Kennedy feels he can help make the town healthy and vibrant. When asked how this could be accomplished, he responded, “Economic growth, I think the economy hasn’t done anything, since I left but gotten stagnant. In fact I think it’s gotten worse. We have more businesses closing than new ones opening. Until we have some kind of economic initiative that is sustainable, we’re not going anywhere.”

Kennedy suggests trying to attract technology based business—businesses that don’t rely on the river or tourism. “How do we accomplish this? Be business friendly.” 

Kennedy feels regulations are too strict, which causes businesses to fail, pull out early or not even open. 

“The town has a reputation of being anti-business and it’s got to stop! The town has set too many rules and regulations, it doesn’t make it easy to open a business in this town.”

“This is not Washington D.C., Richmond or Fredericksburg. This is a small town in need of good businesses and we need to do everything we can to make sure that we help those young businesses get off the ground.” Kennedy suggests tax credits and easing up on some of the restrictions. 

Kennedy feels the town needs to work closer with the county and the state in order to attract businesses here that will live beyond the river. He also feels the town would benefit by working closely with the county, sharing resources. Which, in turn, would save money. “The river is great for tourism. But we need businesses that do not depend on the tourism. That’s where we need to put our energy!” 

Kennedy defined what he believes the role of council and mayor is, “Town council’s role is not to operate this town and not try to do, day to day activities. Their role is to ask questions. The mayor’s job is not the day to day activities of this town, never has been. That’s what you hire people for. I would equate council more to a board of directors.”

Kennedy says the mayor should not be out telling staff how to do their jobs, that’s what he hires the town manager for, that’s why the town manager hires a building a zoning director. 

“The mayor should chair town council meetings, committee meetings and represent the town. Over the last four years the mayor’s role has evolved to something more than that without just cause,” Kennedy said.  

Kennedy feels he can achieve a cohesiveness within the council by encouraging council to stay focused on the task at hand.

“First thing I’m going to do is prioritize everything that this town needs to accomplish. What is easily achievable and what is far reaching. I’m going to, by example, stay focused on those things that need to be done.”

Kennedy feels he has the qualities to lead and could be a stabilizing factor on the council. Qualities he gained from managing over 25 hourly employees at Dominion Power for 17 years. “You have to be creative to keep people focused,” he said. 

Kennedy feels many issues have been started but have laid dormant. If elected he plans to revive action on many of those issues, such as the trailer park, requests for money to benefit the bike trail and the boardwalk. 

Kennedy said he has the utmost respect for Mike Ham, who is also running for mayor and is on the ballot. “Mike has done and excellent job and I think he would benefit the town more to stay chair of budget and finance.” 

In closing, Kennedy said, “It’s time to take the town back. There has been no leadership in this town for four years, since Fred Rummage became mayor. The people have a right to know how their town is being run. They have to have transparency which he promised and never delivered. They have to have cohesiveness on the council, which they don’t have. They have to have clear expectations of what this council and what this government is suppose to be doing. We have to provide that. This is not a cloak and dagger type of a situation, it’s being honest, open and responsive to the people of this town and letting the departments do their job, unencumbered by this council. They are not there to run this town. They should never get involved in the day to day operations of this town. They’ve done that and that’s got to cease and desist.”

 

Linda Farneth

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