For information on polling hours, voting locations, voter registration, and more, contact the city clerk’s office.
Name: Rick Becksted
Occupation: self-employed — building contractor
Years living in Portsmouth: 36
Public service experience:
– Portsmouth city councilor (one term)
– Council representative on: Citywide Neighborhood Committee, Pease Development Authority, Rockingham Planning Commission, Recreation Board
– Portsmouth Little League Board of Directors (six years)
– Recreation Board (four years)
– Coached and managed both youth baseball and football
Q1: What can the city do to increase its supply of affordable housing?
Creating affordable housing is a challenging and difficult issue. Being in the construction field, I too struggle with labor help and the costs of material being extremely high. The greatest difficulty is that Portsmouth has a limited amount of land, and what land we do have can be fairly expensive. I believe this to be a regional issue and should be explored with our neighboring towns. These neighbors have far more land, and I think if we look at it together we could help each other with this difficult issue.
I do not believe simply building large denser buildings will solve this issue. Developers have either built or are in the process of building these large structures. We’re simply getting more expensive units in the city.
Q2: Are there specific areas in the city budget where you think spending cuts can be made? Are there specific areas where you think spending should be increased?
I believe we have a spending problem and should start looking at our overall operating budgets. Generating another source of revenue like the proposed pillow tax on all occupied rooms would be a start. We can’t simply pass the burden on to the taxpayers.
Q3: Do you support a citywide ban on single-use disposables such as plastic bags, plastic straws, and Styrofoam containers?
I support the concept that we need to start raising awareness and suggesting that there are other alternatives, but we should not be trying to force a ban. Legislation recently passed on creating laws that would make the enforcement legal to all towns. Trying to enforce a law that isn’t supported by New Hampshire legislation would be illegal. I have suggested creating a proclamation asking all residents and businesses to make changes that would help to eliminate the use of the above items. Educating, not illegally enforcing, would be a much simpler solution.
Q4: Regarding the McIntyre redevelopment project:
A) Do you support the Redgate/Kane plan?
No. I believe Portsmouth deserves better. This plan is over-developed and does not truly offer true public benefit.
B) Do you think the Council should step back and consider other plans, such as the one put forth by Bill Binnie?
The McIntyre building will not be vacant until November of 2020. I think we owe it to the residents to explore all options. Portsmouth should have multiple options to look at and be able to choose which plan suites the area and is respectful to Portsmouth.
Q5: What can be done to clean up and prevent PFAS contamination and other chemical contaminants on the Seacoast?
This is an ongoing battle that we are facing all over the country. We have finally started taking steps to hopefully help reverse some of the damage that has been done.
Q6: Do you feel that development in Portsmouth — particularly of luxury condos, hotels, and other large-scale buildings — should be curtailed?
I believe that we are over-developing and starting to diminish the character of our town. Our historic buildings and quaint neighborhoods are what make us unique. We are a town that is admired by many. We should be preserving what we have, not diminishing it.
Q7: What are your feelings on the idea of building a permanent covered stage in Prescott Park for festival events?
The Prescott Park Master Plan calls for a removable stage. We all agreed on “park first” and should stick to the plan we worked so hard to create.
Q8: Should the city add more bike lanes and/or take other measures to improve bicycle safety and/or reduce motor-vehicle traffic downtown?
I believe the city is doing the best it can with the narrow New England roads we all love. I am not a fan of the bollards being used on our city streets.
Q9: Are there any significant projects that should be undertaken outside of the downtown area and Islington Street corridor?
There are many neighborhoods outside of these two corridors. Each one is unique and we should respect their concerns when brought to the city’s attention.
Q10: A times this summer, there were road closures on Islington Street, Woodbury Avenue (by the traffic circle), Maplewood Avenue, and other roads all at once. Is there a way to reduce the heavy concentration of road work that creates detours and traffic congestion in the summer?
Infrastructure is an ongoing battle and is limited to the warmer months. The city was undertaking the Islington and Maplewood street projects. The NHDOT is working on the bridge on Woodbury Avenue and the Route 1 culvert project. These can definitely make our lives difficult. We also need to be respectful to our businesses and residents at all times.
Q11: What actions should be taken at the city level to address climate change?
Be respectful to our environment.
Q12: Name one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities Portsmouth will face in the next 10 to 20 years.
I know it’s important to be looking at the future and goals 10 or 20 years from now, but I’m more concerned about the next two to four years. I’m concerned that if we continue to raise taxes on the residents, how many more will be forced to leave because they can no longer afford to stay? After spending $100 million on our sewer treatment plant, will it be enough to suffice on all the forecasted development? Will we ever receive the correct distributions from the rooms and meals tax that the state of New Hampshire promised us? Will our children be able to afford to raise their families here?
BONUS: What are you gonna be for Halloween?