Portsmouth’s municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Below, City Council candidate Rich Blalock responds to PortsmouthNH.com’s candidate questionnaire.
Occupation: Owner Old Ferry Landing Restaurant, Asst. Coach Portsmouth High School, Painter for JG Painting
Civic experience: 4 years on Portsmouth City Recreation Board, 6 years Portsmouth Youth Football Board, Blue Ribbon Committee for Portsmouth’s Skatepark, Little League Manager
Years living in Portsmouth: 38
1) Do you think the city should impose any new measures or mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time?
I believe the city has taken the proper measures thus far mitigating the spread of coronavirus. I believe we need to encourage getting vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines.
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?
It’s been a while since the master plan was updated. I think we should take another look to review the master plan. The new stage should be built in a way that is most advantageous to the entities and performers that use it. I believe a covered stage would be safer for the performers in all types of weather.
3) How do you feel about the current pace of development in Portsmouth?
I have always felt that development should be reasonable and responsible, with an emphasis for creating more housing for those that work here and want to live here. I feel very strongly that we should continue to preserve our historic character both in our downtown and in our neighborhoods. The right reasonable development can enhance our community and help our taxbase.
4) What, if anything, do you think should be done to increase access to affordable housing?
I think we need to encourage more affordable housing, so we can accommodate the people that want to live and work here. To accomplish this we need to revisit the zoning laws and amend them if necessary. We need to work with non-profit entities that want to create affordable housing, such as the Portsmouth Housing Authority.
5) What changes, if any, should be made to the city’s bike lanes?
I think we should do everything we can as a city to protect our pedestrians and bicyclists, keeping our streets safe for both.
6) Regarding the McIntyre building, what do you feel is the best path forward to avoid litigation and get the project done?
As a council, we need to first work with the National Park Service to acquire the McIntyre property; securing an acceptable developer is a requirement of that acquisition. It is critical that we work together and focus on the facts, so we end up with an ideal project that all of Portsmouth will be proud of.
7) What additional measures do you think the city should take to slow climate change and prepare for its impacts?
We need to strengthen our resilience to sea level rise by improving our sea walls. We need to continue our commitment towards reducing carbon emissions on our way to our goal of “Drawdown Portsmouth.”
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?
I think we need to do all we can to support our local small businesses and adjust the street closures accordingly as the pandemic subsides.
9) What do you think the council can do to cultivate an environment of respect and collaboration and minimize hostility in local government?
As we discuss and deliberate at our public meetings, we need to show respect for those listening and asking questions. We need to work towards eliminating hostility in our local government. We need to work as a team with respect
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.
Outdoor recreation is more important than ever, especially for our youth and aging population. As a City Rec Board member and member of the Blue Ribbon Committee for Portsmouth’s Skatepark, I believe we need to ensure these projects reach their completion as intended for the benefit of everyone and the generations to come.
BONUS: What are you going to be for Halloween?
To see other candidates’ responses, click here.