It’s a Dirty Job…

…but somebody’s got to do it.
Several members of the city council said they wanted to step aside before the election, that they didn’t intend to run again. I’ve had conversations with almost all the incumbents, and several told me they decided to run the evening the registration period expired. One councilor even said he was torn as to whether he wanted to win or lose because of the four-year commitment a victory would mean.
I have no doubt about the motivation of every person running for council: there isn’t a person there that doesn’t want to see Berlin improve. Paul Grenier might think Laidlaw is the way to do that, and David Bertrand may have a different vision, but both are fighting for what they think is right.
What I wonder though, is how do you make committed public servants and keep them interested in serving? At some point it isn’t about an issue; it’s about how you foster civic engagement.
Tim Cayer is running unopposed for the four year seat in ward four. That’s a shame, simply for the fact that people ought to have choices. If no one is willing to challenge a candidate, the result is weak democracy. Does ward four support councilor Cayer’s stances on the issues, or do they simply have no one else to vote for? In this election, we won’t know.
Councilor Ron Goudreau is running for ward three specifically because he wanted there to be a choice. His positions contrast Mike Rozek’s sharply, and so he ran to make it a race. He didn’t want to see in ward three what is going on in ward four, so he stepped up to the plate.
In a community that is a shell of its former self like Berlin, it is understandable there might be trouble finding candidates, but at the same time the passion of the people here makes me think there must be hundreds willing to sacrifice their 300+ hours.
I know council is a big commitment, but Berlin’s work ethic is legendary. I find it hard to believe the residents of this city, who prove time and time again they will not lay down and die, are unwilling to take on a part-time job for their city.

As I understand it, it’s better now than it was. At one time there were vacant seats on the council, I’ve been told. I haven’t verified the truth of those claims, but it seems Berlin is in too exciting a time to have people sitting on the sidelines. Laidlaw or no, there is a federal prison, ATV trail inter-connectivity, new businesses and new people coming to town. Millions of dollars is being spent to remove old houses. The burned out buildings on Main Street are about to come down. The Notre Dame school will soon be changing hands. There are signs all around pointing forward, upward, and there is no better time to be involved.
I get paid to sit through those meetings every Monday night, so I can’t claim to know how it feels. But I also don’t the investment in this community the residents do. I meet people every day who have lived in Berlin all their lives and would never consider moving away. They care about this city. How do you enlist them to start acting in one more way? How do you convince them to throw their hat in the ring?

David Bertrand’s candidacy is of the utmost importance to this city. So is Paul Grenier’s. With only one of these men, democracy would fail in Berlin. It takes both of these men to offer residents a choice. Having a challenger in a race may be a bad thing depending on which side of the issue you stand on, but in terms of the health of democracy in the city and the right of residents to have their voices represented it’s invaluable. If it takes an issue like Laidlaw to get people fired up and engaged in the discussion, I hope the fight goes on for a long time. It’s better than empty seats at city hall.

Update: What a city council meeting! Can you imagine they don’t videotape those? Real life drama for political science nerds; better than Lifetime. I’ll try to put something up tomorrow, but my writing is no match for being there. If you weren’t there, you missed one heck of a show.

8 thoughts on “It’s a Dirty Job…

  1. Last night's council session was energized by passion for this city on all sides. Despite the fact that differences of opinion existed, the meeting was an education in how much work this mayor and council have put into the recent bond for necessary capital repairs to the city, and it was also a lesson in the confusion politics can play near election time when it comes to forming conclusions based on the truth. I was concerned for this mayor and council last week when they talked about bonding millions prior to an election, but when significantly put on the defensive about such actions by some members of the public last night, this mayor and council's passion and proactive approach for this city overwhelmed politics by showing the facts that such a bond will bring down cost and not increase the tax rate at all over the next year. In light of recent increases to the assessed values of utility tax payers within the city, and the fact that new developments currently in the works will produce more revenue for this city in the years ahead, this is a responsible action by the city not to continue the bandaid approach to just getting by, through means that can keep taxes at bay. Hats off to them for a fantastic job.In light of the fact that Berlin will see an influx of potentially 1400 new citizens next year, our endless band aid approach to maintaining this city is not a welcome sign for these people. This bond will provide necessary infrastructure improvements important to everyone calling this city their home. Jon Edwards

  2. Council and mayor voted unanimously last night to prepare a letter of the city's intent to intervene in the NH Public Utilities Commission's investigation pertinent to the complaint Clean Power Development has against PSNH. Jon Edwards

  3. A show it was Erik. A show I wish every citizen in this City could have witnessed. They would have seen first hand the differences in thinking between past administrations and the current administration. I also hope we can find a way to get all meetings videoed and played on a local TV network in the future. Till that happens, I do my best to record as many meetings as possible. I do it more for my own benefit. But time permitting on occasion I do make them available on line to the public. I am putting up the October 19 Mayor and Council meeting because I feel it is very telling. Unfortunately I had an issue with batteries running out a couple times during the meeting. The only piece I regret not recording due to battery failure was Councilor Ron Goudreau’s first response about the capitol improvements bond. Fortunately I did manage to get his councilor comment where he repeated much of the same information.Because of the battery issue my recording got broken up into 2 pieces. The piece titled “public comment” is exactly that. This is the opportunity for the public to speak to Mayor and Council. In it you will hear comments made by Barry Kelly, Paul Grenier, Bob Danderson, Mike Rozek and Jon Edwards. The second recording is the portion of the meeting when councilors have an opportunity to make comments and the Mayors report, and is titled “Councilor comments”. I hope people will take the time to listen. I will leave it to those who do to draw their own conclusions. But suffice to say the comments made show the clear differences in leadership styles being offered to the citizens of Berlin. In my mind it is a clear choice between going back to the old way of thinking, or looking and working toward a better tomorrow.I look forward to reading the medias take on it.If anyone has a problem playing the recording please let me know and I can try to post it in a different format.Thank You.Public comments: http://www.mediafire.com/?nz2n1kjtjz2Councilor comments and Mayor report: http://www.mediafire.com/?tuinit2ywgh

  4. Erik,I will make no bones about being a laidlaw Investor. My family has roots in NH and some of my family still lives in the state. I know the dire situation Berlin is in as far as jobs go. The city was founded because of the smokestack and will continue to feed its families because of the smokestack.Jon Edwards, while running for public office continues to run his mouth on message boards on Yahoo. he sends messages to investors in LLEG on the Investorshub board as well. I can only imagine what reaction this would get in the area where I live, Philadelphia. It is completely unacceptable for a person running for public office to slander a company, it's owner and it's investors in public forums. Everyday. All day. I have never heard of such a thing.

  5. Philadephia, I will continue reporting the facts as I see fit while running for public office, and after being elected to office should the citizens of my ward elect me. It is not unacceptable for someone running for public office to report the truth as regards a company vowing to move into the area, nor is it unacceptable to provide opinion.Jon Edwards

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