The Sound’s 2015 Portsmouth City Council Voter’s Guide: John Palreiro

Portsmouth Voters Guide
John Warren Palreiro

Age: 66
Occupation: Owner, Great Bay Taxi
Years living in Portsmouth: 8
Prior public service experience: Member of Portsmouth Taxi Commission; Ricardo, Texas volunteer fire chief

How often do you walk into downtown or use public transportation? What can the city do to encourage more pedestrian traffic and public transit use?
I wish I could spend my free time walking around our quaint city but I am walking disabled. To encourage more pedestrian traffic, I would start by temporarily blocking Congress Street from Market Street to Fleet Street, allowing businesses like Starbucks, Rudi’s, Breaking New Grounds, Popovers, The Works, etc., to expand their outside seating capacity and allowing street licensed vendors to set up their approved concession stands in the middle of the Congress Street to sell their products. I understand that parking is a problem but we would not lose that many spaces while making our city more walkable. I believe this would help draw more guests to our city. It may be worth looking at a permanent promenade, maybe called “Strawberry Promenade,” taking out the curbs, leveling the street, replacing with brick walkways, and placing benches, water fountains and unique lighting, etc. I cannot answer the question of public transportation without showing bias.

How would you address growth and development throughout Portsmouth? 
I would want to take small steps in growth and development throughout Portsmouth. We must keep our city’s historic heritage while carefully shaping and blending the quaintness of our city.

What can the city do to restore public confidence in the police department and the police commission?
I believe we should clean house on all law enforcement personnel involved in the Webber case. We have many hard working reputable police officers within our city’s Police Department and they should be able to hold their heads up high and go on serving and protecting our residents without the embarrassment of those who allowed this and other serious incidences to take place in our city.

How can Portsmouth encourage the development of more affordable and workforce housing?
I believe Portsmouth should be a leader in keeping its workforce close to their (places of) employment, so they can retain more of their wages to spend locally and not in other communities. Affordable housing should be a priority in Portsmouth.

What role should the council have in working with the Prescott Park Arts Festival to address residents’ complaints about noise?
I have heard that when city officials are on location at Prescott Park, the complaints are almost nonexistent. So any time there is a function at Prescott Park, we should have a city representative there on duty.

How can Portsmouth respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change?
Not to be a pessimist, (but) I think it’s too late to respond but rather wait for the inevitable.

What is one recent change for the better in the city, and one you hope to champion as a councilor?
For the past nine months, I have fought to make sure the residents and guests of Portsmouth are protected every time they enter a taxi or so-called “ride share” vehicle. As a resident of Portsmouth and a native son of New Hampshire, I want to make sure that all residents and guests who hailed or called for a taxi or ride share vehicle will be safe and the city has in place ordinances that state all transportation for hire vehicles would have commercial limited liability insurance and all their operators are properly vetted by the local police. A level playing field is now in place and our residents and guests are protected under our new transportation service ordinances.

What was the most recent cultural event you attended in Portsmouth? 
I wish I had the time and money to spend on a cultural events. I am a liver transplant recipient of some 13 years and I spend the larger part of my income on health insurance to stay alive. However, sitting in Market Square or enjoying a meal on the decks is as much as I can afford.

What is the most important issue facing the city that no one is talking about yet?
I believe it is the tax burden that keeps going up. We are not Boston, New York, or even Manchester or Concord. We are a small community of approximately 21,500 residents that depends on tourists to keep our city’s businesses in operation. We cannot tax the tourists any more than what they are being taxed. It is the residents of Portsmouth who have to carry the burden of what I call reckless spending. I believe it is time to stop spending and lower our tax burden before thinking or wanting to spend more.