City Council meets regularly on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at 7:00pm in the Council Chambers at Dover City Hall. Meetings are open to the public, and residents, tax payers and business owners are encouraged to attend and make their voices heard on agenda items and general concerns about the City. Visit the City Council website for additional details, and view the City's Public Records site for meeting agendas and materials.
The public is also encouraged to get involved with City Government by volunteering for committees, boards and commissions. For more information, visit the City's Boards and Commissions website.
Quality Public Education
Quality public education is about more than just classroom learning. Schools are often society's first opportunity to positively intervene in the lives of kids of who experience Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs). We need to ensure our schools have proper funding to provide a quality education, as well as the resources necessary to assist kids through their challenges. Addressing social and emotional issues in schools allows children to focus on their learning, while gaining valuable coping skills. This will set Dover children up for long-term success by reducing instances of mental health and substance use issues, and even preventing crime in the long-run. Quality schools build the resilience of our whole community and ultimately contribute to our successes. During my first term on the Council I stood firmly in support of fully funding the school budget during both budget seasons, and I will continue to vote in favor of funding the schools in a way that best supports our students.
The issue of homelessness has been affecting our community for years, and only seems to be growing worse over time. The Cities of Dover, Somersworth, and Rochester previously had a joint committee on homelessness tasked with developing a plan to address the issue. After the plan was developed, the committee was disbanded, and there has been a breakdown in communication with the public, and even us elected officials, about the implementation of the plan. There is a new plan called the three-legged stool approach, crafted by the fully Democratic board of County Commissioners in partnership with the Tri-City Mayors, which includes a vision for turning the county nursing home into transitional housing after the construction of a new nursing home facility. However, at this point it is just a vision and it lacks the support of the entire Republican delegation of State Representatives from Strafford County needed to make it a reality. To make matters worse, the legislature just passed a law dividing Strafford County into districts for the election of Commissioners, rather than voting for them at-large. The practical effect of this is that we'll potentially have a majority Republican County Commissioner delegation, and they will likely oppose the plan to use the old nursing home for transitional housing. Without affirmative support from the County and State on this issue, it, once again, falls back on the Tri-Cities to handle it. Additionally, the Willand Warming Center was only meant to be a temporary fix and isn't designed to handle the volume of people it has seen these past few years. Frankly, using the center only for extreme weather events instead of full-time during the winter is just cruel. My point in providing all of these details is this: we need to re-establish the Tri-City committee on homelessness to work on a long-term solution to this issue, and we need to partner with organizations who work closely with the houseless community to find real solutions. In a second term, I intend to propose the formation of a committee on homelessness. We can and must do better for our houseless neighbors.
Dover is a young, diverse community. I want to foster an environment where all voices are represented at the table where decisions are made. Our City is making great strides in this area, and I was proud to vote to make the City's ad hoc committee on racial equity and inclusion a full, permanent, standing committee. But our work in this area is not done, as demonstrated by the fact that we had white supremacists recruiting in our neighborhoods and harassing our minority-owned businesses. As I did when I sponsored and passed a resolution condemning hatred and bigotry during my first term, I will continue to speak up in support of under-represented groups and ensure they know their government sees, hears, and supports them. In a second term, I'd like to see to it that all actions and policy decisions of the City are examined through a lens of equity and inclusion before and during their implementation.
Substance Use Disorder
Substance Use Disorder, or addiction, is another major problem grappling our City. Thankfully, we have great organizations in our community working to address this issue, including our own City Government. Our police department has employed two social workers who connect cooperating individuals who have been arrested for drug-related crimes with needed recovery services in lieu of incarceration. We need to ensure the continued funding of these social workers to continue the successes of this program. We should also increase the use of syringe disposal receptacles in hot spots throughout the City, and we should ensure they are placed in strategic, discrete locations where people who use drugs will actually use them. During a second term, I'd like to see the syringe disposal program we have with Wentworth-Douglass continue and be expanded.
Climate change is an existential threat and we need to face it head on! I'm excited for the City to implement the Community Power Coalition for residential, commercial, and governmental energy supply, giving consumers more options for renewable energy sources. I'm even more excited about the prospect of the City being able to fund renewable energy generation projects, such as solar farms, paid for with the savings generated from the new Community Power Coalition. Still, I'd like to see Dover go even further with climate resilience initiatives. Before my first term is over, I'll be working with the City Manager and Resilience Manager to review the current landscape of City policies around renewable energy. I'm doing this with the ultimate goal of having Dover join the SAFE Cities movement, which is a movement of cities signing onto a fossil fuel non-proliferation agreement. This would commit the City Government to reducing it's reliance on fossil fuels, and to restricting the development of projects related to fossil fuels in our community. In a second term, I would work to gain the support of my fellow Coucilors to sign onto this agreement, and then work with the Resilience Manager on developing the policies needed to ensure we keep that commitment.
People should be able to live and play in the communities where they work, yet rents continue to climb! We need to prioritize the building of work-force and attainable housing units in Dover, and we need to come up with incentives to encourage this kind of development. This is especially critical if we expect to attract and retain young people and their families living in our community. In my first term on the Council, I voted affirmatively for all projects that increased the City's housing stock, especially projects that included attainable housing units. If given the opportunity to serve a second term, I commit to continue voting for projects that increase our attainable housing supply and will only vote for public-private development partnership projects that include commitments to attainable housing. Furthermore, I commit to working with the City's planning department to review and revise our zoning ordinances to ensure that they are inclusive and promote the development of attainable housing.