Portsmouth’s municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Below, incumbent Mayor Rick Becksted responds to PortsmouthNH.com’s candidate questionnaire.
Occupation: Small business owner in Portsmouth, Becksted Associates
Civic experience: Portsmouth City Council: 2 Terms
-As Mayor: Represent the city daily; Chairman on the council meetings; Chairman of the Legislative committee; Member of the Mayors of the round table committee
-Council Representative on: Citywide Neighborhood Committee; Pease Development Authority; Rockingham Planning Commission; Recreation Board
-Portsmouth Little League Board of Directors 6 yrs.
-Recreation Board 4 Yrs.
-Coached and Managed both Youth Baseball and Football.
Years living in Portsmouth: 38 Years
1) Do you think the city should impose any new measures or mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time?
Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to Portsmouth for the past 22 months. We have been proactive & reactive in its approach to dealing with Covid, keeping the safety of the residents first and foremost. We’ve weathered the storm and hopefully, better days are in our future. Unless our Health Inspector, the city staff expert, sees a negative trend in the numbers, I do not anticipate any new measures.
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?
The Prescott Park Master Plan is the result of a community-wide conversation, emphasizing a “park first” approach. In other words, the people have spoken. Any stage can be covered, temporary or permanent.
3) How do you feel about the current pace of development in Portsmouth?
It’s not the pace of development; it’s what developers are trying to get away with. We need to strengthen our zoning to get smart development that is both fair for developers & addresses the needs & concerns of the residents.
4) What, if anything, do you think should be done to increase access to affordable housing?
In concert with #3, create stronger zoning to get more housing, both affordable & workforce, and, more importantly, enforce it. In addition, streamline & incentivize ADU’s thru property tax rebates as well as partner with professional affordable housing groups on future development.
5) What changes, if any, should be made to the city’s bike lanes?
Can we at least agree that the rollout of the bike lanes was done in a less than professional manner? Besides listening to the residents, the current configuration complies with the Safe Route to Schools (K-8) grant, which the previous implementation did not.
6) Regarding the McIntyre building, what do you feel is the best path forward to avoid litigation and get the project done?
Following the path we are currently on, with the popular “shed” design and ongoing discussions with the NPS to get their feedback and ultimately, their approval. That is the goal. Whether our current community partner wants to regress back to their rejected plan OR move forward with NPS & the City, that’s a question for them.
7) What additional measures do you think the city should take to slow climate change and prepare for its impacts?
I would defer to our City Staff & DPW, and our volunteer committees for recommendations.
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?
It will definitely be a topic of conversation moving forward with the City Manager & staff, DPW, PTS and the City Council. The only authority the Council has is the granting of permits to serve alcohol on City property, everything else falls under the authority of the City Manager.
9) What do you think the council can do to cultivate an environment of respect and collaboration and minimize hostility in local government?
The City Council is a policy making board. In order to create good policy, Councilors need to ask questions to be fully informed. We rely on City staff to be expeditious & informative to questions. Councilors should not have to file Right to Know requests for simple answers. Respect & collaboration is a two way street.
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.
The Sound Barriers for the various neighborhoods of Portsmouth. After 30+ years of being ignored & dismissed by the City & State, this is the closest we’ve come, a Tier 1 designation by NHDOT. We need to continue this fight, to get all neighborhoods and schools affected on that list, to move up the timeline to sooner and NOT later, and to continue to pressure the Governor & executive council for their support.
BONUS: What are you going to be for Halloween?
To see other candidates’ responses, click here.