Editor’s note: PortsmouthNH.com sent a questionnaire to all 18 candidates running for Portsmouth City Council in the Nov. 7 election. Some of the questions were suggested by readers, while others were generated by the PortsmouthNH team. For information on polling hours, voting locations, voter registration, and more, contact the city clerk’s office.
Name: Elizabeth A. Moreau
Occupation: real estate attorney, business owner
Years lived in Portsmouth: I have lived in Portsmouth for 17 years.
Public service experience:
• Vice Chair of the Portsmouth Planning Board – January 2013-present
• Vice Chair and Planning Board rep for Demolition Committee – July 2016-present
• Board of Directors, Pamela Ziadeh Memorial Scholarship Fund – May 2015-present
• Board of Directors, HAVEN, Ending Violence, Changing Lives – July 2015-present
• Board of Directors, Sexual Assault Support Services – 2008-2011 (Treasurer 2009-2013, Board President 2013-2015)
• Member, Seacoast Board of Realtors (Affiliate Co-Chair – 2006-2009; 2009 Affiliate of the Year)
• Member, New Hampshire Bar Association – October 2005-present
• Member, Maine Bar Association – October 2013-present
• Member, Rockingham County Bar Association
• Member, American Land Title Association
• Member, The Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth
• Member Provisors, Collaborating for Excellence
• Member, Seacoast Women’s Network (Membership Chair – 2007-2014)
Q1: This year, the City Council has taken up several resolutions in response to comments or actions by President Trump.
A) Do you think it’s appropriate for the City Council to vote on resolutions concerning national/international issues?
I do not believe we should spend tax payers’ money passing resolutions that have no direct effect on our residents. We have so many things to do and plan for, we should not waste our time for political grandstanding.
B) Explain your position on the following resolutions:
• In April, in response to President Trump’s comments and executive orders regarding immigration, the council passed a “welcoming and diversity resolution.”
• In June, after President Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Mayor Jack Blalock (with council approval) signed a letter supporting the goals of the accord.
• In October, the council passed a resolution denouncing President Trump’s recent comments criticizing professional athletes who choose to take a knee during the national anthem.
Q2: Regarding the Prescott Park Arts Festival (PPAF), please share your thoughts on the following:
• Should there be fewer PPAF events each year?
Based on the master plan that was written for Prescott Park, it takes the stance of Park First. I believe that is a very good idea and all decisions surrounding what happens in the park should be evaluated to see if it is good for the park. Therefore, if fewer events are found to be better for the park, I would support that decision.
• Should there be limits on audience sizes?
Based on the master plan that was written for Prescott Park, it takes the stance of Park First. I believe that is a very good idea and all decision surrounding what happens in the park should be evaluated to see if it is good for the park. Therefore, if limits on audience sizes is found to be good for the park, I would support that outcome.
• Should the volume of events be reduced?
I believe we should look carefully at feedback from the 2017 season and determine based on that if the changes made during the season have been able to satisfy the surrounding neighborhood issues or see if there are additional steps that could be taken that will not intrude on the neighbors and allow the community to enjoy the events. Portsmouth has a long tradition of concerts in the park and I think we need to work hard at finding a balance of maintaining that while addressing concerns from the surrounding community.
• Is consumption of alcohol during PPAF events a problem that warrants stricter enforcement?
If the consumption of alcohol is causing disruptive behavior then yes, that warrants stricter enforcement.
3. Regarding government transparency and accessibility:
A) Do you think the council has been transparent enough over the last two years? If not, what can be done to improve transparency?
I support transparency, and over the last two years I have not seen or heard of anything that would appear that the current council has not been transparent.
B) Do you think city government has been accessible enough for residents? If not, what can be done to make it more accessible?
I feel the city has made every effort to be accessible. The city has even improved the website and access to all aspects of the city. As a Planning Board member, I see the access residents have to the applications we see, and if anyone asks about ways to make that better it is done. So, I feel the city is accessible, and anytime that can be improved upon it is done.
4. Housing costs continue to rise in Portsmouth. Do you think the city should add more housing supply to ease pricing pressure? If so, what land could be used for this purpose?
With my experience on the Planning Board, I believe Portsmouth would benefit from having a larger inventory of diverse housing options. We need to continue down the path we are currently on to adjust our zoning outside of the downtown core. By working to expand transit choices accompanied by mixed-use development along our gateway corridors, we stand to expand and diversify our housing stock. Smart growth for our city now will safeguard the long-term availability of housing for residents of varying incomes. We need to seriously consider impact fees for new development in order to help ease the burden on existing property owners.
5. Regarding residential and workforce parking:
A) Do you think Portsmouth should develop a downtown parking program for people who work in the city? If so, how would it work?
I would support a program to give downtown employees a discount at the new Foundry Place Parking Garage so that we free up the Hanover parking garage for patronage at the local downtown businesses.
B) Do you think Portsmouth should develop a neighborhood parking program for people who live in the city? If so, how would it work?
Absolutely we should have neighborhood parking programs for resident-only parking. I would look at other places and see how they implement these programs and work towards something similar in Portsmouth. This kind of a plan would need neighborhood input since each neighborhood is different and could have different needs and concerns. This is something that should be done to support the tax paying residents of this city.
6. Do you think the city should cut spending in order to lower taxes? If so, where specifically would you make cuts?
We need to review our services to make sure they are both cost effective and efficient. I’ll review the budget line by line to find any savings possible, but the budget is separate from tax assessments. We need to look at the different ways we can affect the tax rate and assessments in order to ensure everyone is being assessed fairly. We need to seriously consider impact fees for new development in order to help ease the burden on existing property owners and help lower the tax rate.
7. The council is attempting to take 4.6 acres of land containing a city sewer line from Toyota of Portsmouth owner James Boyle. In March, Boyle said he was seeking about $10 million in a settlement offer, but no settlement was reached.
A) Should the council have settled with Boyle at the amount he requested?
Considering this is still pending litigation, I don’t believe we should be discussing it at all. Without all of the facts of the case and to know all of the numbers involved with the litigation, it would be impossible to make an informed decision regarding any settlement.
B) Should the city proceed with efforts to take the land by eminent domain?
Once again, since this is a pending legal matter in the courts I do not feel it is appropriate to discuss it.
8. What is your stance on the regulation of short-term rentals, such as those offered through Airbnb?
I believe we need to protect our single-family residential neighborhoods from allowing businesses to be run in single-family residential neighborhoods that change the character of that neighborhood. We need regulation that protects the residents as well; short-term rentals need to be evaluated as to what is best for the entire city. In certain places in our city, these rentals would be accepted and expected. In smaller single-family neighborhoods, they are more disruptive. We need to be sure there is proper health and safety of these businesses and proper management of the businesses. I feel we need to carefully look at how they affect all of our city and regulate in a way that works for everyone.
9. What is your stance on allowing Keno gambling in the city?
I support allowing every resident to voice their opinions and I would offer up a ballot question. From there, if approved, we would need to carefully build the regulating infrastructure for it.
10. Looking 10 to 20 years into the future…
A) What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Portsmouth?
I see an aging population and demographics being top of mind.
B) What do you see as the city’s biggest opportunities?
I think the sky is the limit in our city and we have opportunities everywhere: i.e. housing, commercial/development, the arts, etc.
C) How can the city start preparing for these challenges and opportunities now?
By thinking long-term, as we have on zoning and planning, we are adding some of these now. We must continue like we do with the CIP process, to continue to evaluate things as we go.
BONUS: What are you gonna be for Halloween?
Patriots number 1 fan.
See responses from other candidates
(Candidate Brenna Cavanaugh declined to participate, citing time constraints. Candidate Rick Becksted did not reply to messages left by phone or email.)