Ward 2 Candidate Responses to Foster's Daily Democrat Questionnaire
Foster's Daily Democrat recent sent out a questionnaire to all candidates running for City Council. Because Foster's published all candidate responses individually and without labels as to which ward each candidate is running in, I've created a table showing my answers and my competitor's answers side by side for easy comparison. To view the original articles on Foster's, see: Dover 2023 City Council candidate Timothy Casey and Dover City Council candidate Robbie Hinkel Warach.
Robbie Hinkel Warach
Bachelor of science in business administration, Northeastern University (2008)
Some college courses
IT product manager
Real estate agent
Political or civic experience highlights:
Incumbent city councilor (January 2022 - December 2023); former treasurer (March 2021-March 2023) and current co-chair (since March 2023 ) of the Dover Democratic Committee; at-large delegate of the New Hampshire Stonewall (LGBTQ+) Democrats (March 2021-present); Strafford County town chair representative for the New Hampshire Democratic State Committee (April 2023- present); Board of Directors for Community Action Partnership of Strafford County (June 2021-present).
Participant in the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce Citizens Leadership Academy. Currently, serving on the solid waste advisory committee, city of Dover and the McConnell Center advisory committee.
What would be your top three priorities if you are elected?:
The three primary priorities I have for a second term are to address the homelessness crisis, find solutions to the affordable/attainable housing crisis, and take action on climate resilience at the local level. In regards to homelessness, I would work to re-establish the Tri-City Task Force on Homelessness, or at least a city committee in Dover. I believe the Task Force would provide transparency to the public while collaborating with community organizations to develop more transitional housing. While the county plan is great, we cannot wait on a project that is currently being blocked by smaller towns. If the county's plan does become reality, it would be a benefit in addition to anything we could achieve locally. Next, I would work with the Planning Department to create additional solutions to promote the development of affordable housing, such as zoning regulation changes. Finally, I want to take meaningful action to address climate change at the local level. I would work with the city's resilience manager and then build consensus with the rest of the council on a plan to eliminate municipal dependence on fossil fuels in a reasonable, but expedient time frame, transitioning city-owned properties to renewable energy. I would also work to establish a renewable energy project, such as a solar farm, that would supplement the city's energy needs and further lower energy costs. If I earn your vote on Election Day, I pledge to diligently make these priorities reality.
Walking through Ward 2 and knocking on doors, property owners' main concern is taxes. As a property owner myself I would like to try to find a way to help with the taxes.
Departmental fiscal responsibility.
Examine what can be done to raise the rankings of the school system.
What is the biggest problem Dover is facing and how you would solve it?:
The biggest challenges Dover faces are not unique to Dover. They're being experienced in cities and towns of all sizes, and in almost every state across the country. For Dover, the biggest issue is housing affordability. If New Hampshire were a home rule state (where cities and towns are free to pass laws above and beyond those passed by the state), my solution would be a requirement that all new housing developments include mixed-income housing units. The number of housing units that would be required to be below market rate would be equivalent to the percentage of people living in the city who qualify for below market rate housing at the time the development is going through the approval process. Unfortunately, New Hampshire is not a home rule state, and cities lack the legal authority to pass such laws unless the state expressly grants that authority. In the meantime, it is up to us to find other solutions at the local level. I will continue to support public-private partnerships that have mixed income units in them, and push back on those that do not, unless they offer some other significant value to the city. To increase the total housing supply in order to drive down prices, I would also request for the Planning Department to present options for zoning changes such as increasing density in the urban center, or decreasing lot sizes in the suburban and rural parts of the city. While we're limited by the state, these are real opportunities to make a substantial impact.
Dover is facing a number of big problems. One of those, I believe, is affordable housing. We need not to build apartment buildings with affordable units. We need to build family homes in Dover and require a percentage of units in apartment building be affordable units.
Should the city work to create below market rate housing, and where is the best site?:
With New Hampshire having one of the worst housing crises in the country, and the city of Dover being one of the fastest growing in the State, I believe it's critical for the City to work to create more housing at all economic levels, but especially more below market rate housing which is significantly lacking. If we want to keep and attract young people to Dover, like young nurses, teachers, police officers or fire fighters, we need to ensure they can afford to live here. The same is true for seniors who wish to remain in the community into their retirement. They need somewhere affordable to call home too. It is my belief that the best location to develop below market housing is right in the mix with all other economic levels of housing. Studies have shown that when housing markets are mixed, it prevents concentrations of poverty which tend to perpetuate more poverty and crime. It also prevents racial disparities and gives lower income people access to new social networks, as well as more expansive employment networks with better paying jobs. These are all positive impacts on our community and they help build the local economy from the bottom up. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Yes up to this point I don’t believe the city has done enough to create affordable housing.
Should the council address the pace and type of development in the city? If yes, how?:
Based on the urgency of the housing crisis and how much rent and home prices have increased in our city in such a short period of time, I believe we are developing housing at a good rate to keep up with population growth. Where we're not doing the best job is increasing affordable housing units. While I admit that much of the crisis requires state level changes to fix, I also believe that local changes to zoning, and local incentives to build mixed income housing are something we can, and must, do to make the city affordable for all age groups and socioeconomic statuses. Dover has had great success with public-private partnerships. In these arrangements, the city agrees to something, such as reimbursing the developer for the cost to build public infrastructure, and the developer agrees to provides something of value to the city, such as guaranteeing a certain amount of new property tax revenue from the new development. We have successfully included affordable housing as one of these stipulations in the past, and going forward we should make it a standard.
Does the city need to make changes to its approach to parking as development increases?:
It is my understanding that the city's current approach to parking is that developers must provide adequate parking for the buildings they are creating. This strategy ensures we don't have a parking crisis in our downtown area. However, I think this approach should be monitored in the long term to ensure that it doesn't inhibit the development of housing, especially affordable/attainable housing.
Yes multi-unit buildings need to have at a minimum one parking space for each unit and any spots leased from the city should be leased at the parking rate.
What is the city doing well and where is there room for improvement?:
There are many reasons to be proud of the city of Dover. We have a nationally accredited police department with many progressive programs for addressing community safety. Our downtown is booming once again with shops, restaurants and other small businesses. Our roads have improved significantly over the past ten years, as has much of our other public infrastructure. We have many beautiful, walkable neighborhoods and access to nature in our 20+ public parks. Our city staff is dedicated to providing excellent service and have implemented many creative solutions to address the challenges facing the city, even some that have been recognized across the region, state and nation. As I have mentioned in other questions in this survey, the areas where we can improve significantly are the development of affordable housing, as well as creating tangible solutions to address homelessness.
Departments I see doing well (are) wastewater treatment, community services, recycling center, Recreation department, and others. Departments that could use improvement: Fire, police, and the school department-plus others.
What is the city’s responsibility to its homeless population, both this winter and long term?:
The majority of the homeless population living in Dover identify the city as their primary place of residence. As such, I strongly believe we have an obligation to help our houseless neighbors. This could take many different forms depending on each individual's needs. The city should continue working with the other Tri-Cities on maintaining the warming center for houseless residents to get respite from the extreme weather we have here. Even when the weather doesn't meet the definition of extreme, it's still too cold and inhumane for people to be sleeping outside. Long term, the city needs to work with the county and community organizations to develop a permanent transitional housing facility/shelter, preferably one that operates all year long. We should try to get as much assistance in these efforts as we can from the state and federal government as well, such as in the form of grants. Additionally, we should assist the houseless population by arranging for social service and substance use treatment organizations to make regular visits to the warming center and any new transitional housing that may be built. This would help people get legal documents they need in order to get jobs and housing, and would assist them with services for ongoing medical treatment, food, utilities and rent, as well as getting people who use drugs access to treatment.
I believe the city is responsible to protect the homeless. Start asking the right questions to the homeless like: Why are you homeless? And what kind of help do you need? instead of generalizing and giving all of them the same type of help. Or thinking we know what is needed or what is best for someone else.