Charles Bragdon - City Council District 1
1. How many years have you live in Portland?
I have been a lifelong resident of Portland
2. What experiences, motivations, and leadership styles will make you an effective City Councilor?
I am a self motivated individual who motivates others to act. I am team leader who believes the whole team must operate it a united way to affect progress and change. I believe I have to listen to the people to know their concerns and problems and act accordingly. I have been an independent small business owner for over 7 years and have learned how to interact with and lead people through positive motivation and reinforcement.
3. If elected, what will your top three priorities be? How do they impact Portlanders aged 18-40?
My number one priority is public safety. I don’t feel there is any room for layoffs in this category as these people are critical during severe economic times such as these. These are not the times where we should be eliminating critical fire and police positions. I don’t believe you can truly have the public trust if you don’t look out for their safety first.
My second priority is making sure the city general fund is not wasted on pet projects that can wait until better economic times. I feel if it comes down to laying people off as we have just seen or completing a $325,000 state of the art playground at Deering Oaks, I would delay the building of a playground to keep necessary staff employed. Although I think it is great that the city is trying to beautify itself and ensure the children of this city have a safe park to play in, I think the other park could have been upgraded and a new one built when the city was stronger.
I would also ensure that the city uses the funds being donated by individuals and other charities goes towards building the skateboard park . I think the city needs to ensure there are safe alternatives for the young people to go as an alternative to the streets. I think it is very important to continue improving in this area. We need to be able to give the younger generation positive outlets. I think more positive activities for the youth should be explored continually.
My third priority would be to make sure the city re-instates programs like the Annual Heavy trash pickup program. There are a great many people in our city who rely on this as a means of disposing of unneeded items that they otherwise have no way of disposing of. There are also a number of residents who seek out these unneeded or unwanted items and reuse them the removal of this has also created many safety issues with the items being cluttered onto back porches, stairwells and other inappropriate areas. Some people have even decided the best way to dispose of these unwanted items is to make it someone else’s problem by discarding them on someone else’s property or just discarding them along the highway or other city street.
4. Please share one positive change you have seen on the City Council and in Portland over the past year?
I am not sure if you are talking about a newly elected official or a decision made by the current council. If you are talking about any newly elected councilors then I would have to say that I don’t have an opinion on that. I don’t feel the council has made a lot of positive decisions in the last year, but if I had to pick one thing, I would have to say the hiring of our new Chief of Police James Craig.
I would have to say the most positive change I have seen in Portland in the past year is the major repairs taking place on many city streets that have needed them. I think the sewer overflows being upgraded at the same time is excellent as well as this was long overdue.
5. Please share one frustrating change you have seen on the City Council and in Portland over the past year?
I think this would have to be to allow the oversaturation of an already flooded Taxi Industry. The drivers in this industry can’t make a livable income as it is and the city just continues to flood the market with more and more licenses. This creates a negative transportation environment. They are allowing anyone who wants to open a new taxi to do it with little regard for the public. There is no area knowledge testing being done to ensure drivers know how to get to places and so many people are being taken on rides all over the peninsula and overcharged by people who have no idea where they are going sometimes. The city of Portland had over 2500 complaints about this last year alone. I believe this has a negative effect on tourism and also is a blatant disregard for the public interest.
6. What competing responsibilities do you have professionally and personally?
I am very personally driven to do what is right for the majority of the people all the time. I hold everyone to the same standard including myself. I believe we need to act with necessary urgency when something is not being handled properly and ensure that it is corrected within a reasonable timeframe. I think we need to always look out for the public interest and ensure it is always being served by our elected officials. I believe in complete transparency when decisions are being made and how they arrived at the end result.
7. Are you a homeowner or renter?
I am and always have been a renter. I have lived in many different districts in the city.
8. What do you see the role of the City Council to be? If elected, how will you govern?
I believe a city councilors primary job is to be a policymaker who ensures that every decision they make is in the best interest of the people. I think every project or issue needs to be considered on its face value and how it will affect or benefit the people as a whole. I don’t believe partisan politics should play a role in any decision making process that would not be in favor of the people. Although I think an elected official should stand by their party, I don’t think it should play a part in their voting practices or how they make their decisions. I will always make all my voting decisions based on these beliefs.
9. Please answer and explain the following:
A. Do you support reducing the parking requirements for new construction (Y/N)? Explain.
I would have to say NO on this one. I think the city is already challenged when it comes to parking and that if a developer desires to build their project in Portland, then they should have to consider the impact their project would have on the localized parking situation. I think if their project would add parking requirements, then it should be a part of the project they build. I think the more parking we have the better off the business will be.
B. Do you support increasing housing density to build more units (Y/N)? Explain.
I would have to say YES to this one. I think Portland’s population is growing at a very quick rate. I don’t think we can house people as effectively with single house lot developments as we can with multi unit projects. So I think in the right areas of the city increased housing density would be an asset to Portland.
C. What are your thoughts and ideas around housing in Portland?
I think overall Portland has a very effective housing plan. I think the inclusive diversity of neighborhoods is a very vital part of it as well. I think this helps people understand each other better and helps ebb racial bias and negative feelings toward others. I think most areas in Portland are meeting the housing needs very well.
10. What is your primary mode of transportation? How can we improve transportation in Portland?
I primarily drive as this is how I make my living. I own a taxicab service and spend a great number of hours a week driving. I think the #1 thing we can do to improve transportation is to stop the oversaturation of the Taxi industry. I think we need to ensure the public is being served by people who are knowledgeable of the area and that the Taxi industry works more effective as a unified industry. I am working with the industry and the city to create a taxi board to help this take place. I think we need to also coordinate the buses, trains and ferries to work more effectively together, but I do not have a resolution for this at this time.
11. If elected, what will you do to implement the recommendations of the Peninsula Transit Study?
I think it would be best to see what those recommendations are before I decide how I would implement them. I will definitely implement the recommendations fairly based on the public interest.
12. Would you support or oppose community benefits agreements in contracts between the City and developers? If so, what stipulations will you include in these agreements?
I support community benefits agreements in contracts between the City and developers. I think if a developer wants to build into a community, they should have to show some community benefit. If you can’t demonstrate how the community around you would benefit from your business or development then why would the community want you to be a part of them?
13. Given the state of the economy, continuing cuts will be part of the budgeting process. What cuts will you make?
I would have to say that if I had to make any cuts, it would not be in staffing or public safety. I would look for projects that have been budgeted that can wait until the economy is stronger. I would also look at better ways to do things with better cost efficiency like stop signs. I don’t know why it takes 2 separate studies to decide to put a stop sign in a residential neighborhood when residences have expressed a need for it. I think those living in a neighborhood know how much traffic goes through their area daily and whether or not people are driving through too fast. I have seen it cost as much as $11,000 in studies to place one $300 stop sign.
14. How will you go about increasing local revenue?
My first priority here would be to seek out local entrepreneurs and try to help them found new businesses that would benefit the local people and economy. I believe this could be done through low interest loans and TIF programs. I would also seek out larger companies that could bring better paying jobs to the area. I believe we have a large amount of commercial buildings appropriate for small manufacturing firms. I think we need more real jobs with better pay and benefits and that the city managers office should be trying to help businesses like this find Portland desirable.
15. What are your plans for reducing the City's energy costs and consumption?
I would first try to access the 55 city owned properties for how green they are and how to improve their efficiency and energy usage. I would recommend any changes be made to improve these properties that would improve this efficiency and recommend any stimulus and grant money be used when appropriate.
16. How do you think that Portland should cope with the working waterfront/tourist dichotomy?
I think the working waterfront is a necessity to the tourist industry and don’t think we should allow it to be developed in ways that would take away from the waterfront industries that draw the tourists here. I think the fishing industries are one of the industries that help this city grow to where it is and that they should be promoted and sustained.
17. What do you hope to see come out of the Charter Commission?
I would like to see a Strong elected Mayor with budgetary line item veto power. I would like to see term limits placed on all elected positions in the city. I would like to see the elimination of a city manager and the creation of a city administrator that answers to a Strong Mayor. I would like to see a better budgetary process for how the city council and the school committee decide on their respective annual expenses. I would like to see more district related seat as opposed to At-large seats on the city council.
18. How do you intend to represent the needs of low-income and New American community members?
I myself am low income and feel that we need to help people during these tough economic times. I believe education is the key here. We should become educated in their cultures and find ways to include their cultures into ours and help educate them to ensure long term employability. I think this country is so great because we are so diverse and we need to embrace our diversity and help communities grow through it.
19. If elected, how will you cultivate Portland's blossoming art and music communities?
I think the citizens of Portland should always be involved in this, I don’t know how it should be something the city council is involved with though. I think the city has many publications and organizations that are doing a great job of promoting these two categories and would be the best way to continue to help people be aware and involved in the art and music scenes.