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: Paige Trace
Occupation: Fine Arts Consultant/Dealer
Years lived in Portsmouth: 10 years
Public service experience:
• Gubernatorial appointment for a State Board in Commonwealth of Virginia.
• National Council for Historic New England
• National Council for Strawbery Banke Museum
• Board of Managers for National Society of The Colonial Dames of America — New Hampshire (NSCDA-NH)
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?
The City Council has a responsibility first and foremost to the residents of Portsmouth. The councilors have a right to express themselves individually, but again, their first duty is to the city of Portsmouth.
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.
All three: The two resolutions and Council letter of support pertain to national issues. And again, the City Council for the city of Portsmouth has a responsibility first and foremost to The city of Portsmouth and the residents of Portsmouth. And, I am saying this as someone who believes in Portsmouth being an open city. I believe in global warming. And I believe in freedom of speech.
Q2: Regarding the Prescott Park Arts Festival (PPAF), please share your thoughts on the following:
- Should there be fewer PPAF events each year?
The number of events appears appropriate at this point. If there should be a change, that should be up to our city manager, the Department of Public Works, and the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee for Prescott Park working with the Prescott Park Arts Festival.
- Should there be limits on audience sizes?
That should be a decision between the city manager and the Police & Fire Departments as to safety for all attending an event.
- Should PPAF events end earlier?
Events seem to be ending at the appropriate time at night.
- Should the volume of events be reduced?
The city manager has a good handle on this and is in control of volume levels.
- Is consumption of alcohol during PPAF events a problem that warrants stricter enforcement?
The decision of “stricter enforcement” is one for the Police Department and our city manager to make.
Q3: 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?
No. Transparency can be improved through greater respect for and communication with residents.
B) Do you think city government has been accessible enough for residents? If not, what can be done to make it more accessible?
No. The recent institution of round table conversation between City Council and residents is a start. The salaried city government is far more accessible than the City Council.
Q4: 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?
Adding housing doesn’t automatically ease pricing pressure. But if one were to look at land for higher density housing, the Frank Jones Convention Center parcel should have been purchased ages ago. With part of it used for more affordable housing, part of it for parking, and part of it for the location of the new police station being discussed.
Q5: 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?
Open a parking lot at Frank Jones Convention Center parcel with discounted workforce & resident parking and a trolley/bus running to and from the center of town.
B) Do you think Portsmouth should develop a neighborhood parking program for people who live in the city? If so, how would it work?
We have reached the point that a neighborhood parking program is becoming necessary. But each neighborhood has individual distinct needs and problems as parking goes. Each should be looked at and set up on an individual basis.
Q6: Do you think the city should cut spending in order to lower taxes? If so, where specifically would you make cuts?
Yes, we should cut the budget and stop spending money on unnecessary projects that only benefit a few and not all of Portsmouth. There are both large and small approved projects in the budget that make no sense for Portsmouth currently — particularly from an infrastructure and a proactive standpoint.
Q7: 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?
The City of Portsmouth already owes Mr. Boyle $3 million as part of a settlement that was mandated by a judge. Mr. Boyle has a good lawyer. It seems that every time the city goes after Mr. Boyle, the city loses. At what point do we stop this? I’m sure that Mr. Boyle is a reasonable man and it seems that maybe some respectful communication might go a long way.
B) Should the city proceed with efforts to take the land by eminent domain?
It appears that that course of action need not have to happen and would do much in the way of harming the city’s public reputation. Again, perhaps more communication between parties.
Q8: What is your stance on the regulation of short-term rentals, such as those offered through Airbnb?
The city already has a map with regulations as per neighborhoods to the extent that it shows where “short-term rentals” are approved and where not. I believe that it should be addressed on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis.
Q9: What is your stance on allowing Keno gambling in the city?
No. But that is my personal stance. If, as it has already, Keno were to come before the City Council again, I would suggest that it is the residents’ right to make this decision by voting on it or clearly in large numbers making their voices heard at a public hearing in one way or the other.
Q10: Looking 10 to 20 years into the future…
A) What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Portsmouth?
Global warming, clean water and enough of it, making sure that Portsmouth isn’t overtaken by ugly urban sprawl.
B) What do you see as the city’s biggest opportunities?
The entire city working together to maintain the Great City of Portsmouth that we all know and love. It takes a Great City to keep a City Great.
C) How can the city start preparing for these challenges and opportunities now?
Through, thoughtful, and proactive communication between residents, businesses, and elected & salaried city government.
BONUS: What are you gonna be for Halloween?
Either the Wicked Witch of the West or Glinda the Good Witch of the North. “I’ll get you my little pretty, and your little dog Toto, too.” “Pay no attention to the man behind the screen,” said the great and powerful Oz.
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.)