Portsmouth’s municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Below, City Council candidate Jacob Lehoux responds to PortsmouthNH.com’s candidate questionnaire.
Occupation: Software Engineer
Civic experience: Portsmouth Little League umpire
Years living in Portsmouth: 27
1) Do you think the city should impose any new measures or mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time?
We should continue to actively monitor CDC guidelines as well as Portsmouth and surrounding area case counts and positivity rates. At the same time, I do not believe in re-enacting a mask mandate in Portsmouth. I would also continue to support city efforts to make it easier for residents to get vaccinated, especially anyone in a high-risk category.
2) Do you think the Prescott Park Master Plan should be updated in any way? Specifically, do you think the stage should be temporary or permanent? Covered or uncovered?
Prescott Park is an important part of Portsmouth. A lot of input went into the master plan project and I believe we should continue to update it while maintaining the structure. I think the stage should be permanent. I would also want to look into the ability to do shows or events year round.
3) How do you feel about the current pace of development in Portsmouth?
This city needs projects and developments to grow and thrive economically. However, we need to be responsible. The city and developers should work together to make sure that projects are designed with the city needs top of mind.
4) What, if anything, do you think should be done to increase access to affordable housing?
This will have to be a multi-pronged approach. Firstly, solving the affordable housing issue has become more challenging throughout the entire region. There is already work going on between municipalities to determine region-wide solutions. Locally, we need to craft policies to make sure our current housing stock remains within reach, like tax incentives to keep rents affordable.
5) What changes, if any, should be made to the city’s bike lanes?
I think we shouldn’t give up on bike lanes but we need to support bike usage within the city. I would like to pursue the possibility of a raised bike lane/pedestrian walkway combo like what is currently set up on the road leading to Little Harbour School.
6) Regarding the McIntyre building, what do you feel is the best path forward to avoid litigation and get the project done?
At the time of writing this, the developer has reopened the lawsuit. Ideally this can be settled with more thoughtful discussion and collaboration. I have full faith this next council can work with the developer to come to terms, submit the application to the NPS, and move forward on the project.
7) What additional measures do you think the city should take to slow climate change and prepare for its impacts?
As a seacoast town, our first focus should be ocean rise and updating the city to handle runoff. Any new developments should be responsibly built and existing buildings should be allowed to be updated.
8) Do you support the idea of seasonal road closures and/or barriers to accommodate outdoor dining at restaurants — even after the pandemic has (hopefully) subsided?
Yes, with limitations. I, for one, have really enjoyed outdoor dining and supporting local businesses and business owners. I don’t believe we can shut down the major streets through town (Congress, Daniel, Market), however we can and should consider smaller side streets. I would even go as far to make this change year round if the need was there.
9) What do you think the council can do to cultivate an environment of respect and collaboration and minimize hostility in local government?
First and foremost, open and candid communication is critical. Ensuring transparent, honest two-way feedback between and amongst members will cultivate an environment of respect and collaboration. I believe that, when aligned with the mission to make Portsmouth a safe, productive community, we all thrive.
10) Aside from the issues already raised in this questionnaire, please outline ONE other priority you would address as a city councilor over the next two years.
Parking. I have lived downtown for six years and in that time it has gotten harder to park for a reasonable cost.
BONUS: What are you going to be for Halloween?