The Sound’s 2015 Portsmouth City Council Voter’s Guide: Rick Becksted

Portsmouth Voters Guide
Rick Becksted

Rick Becksted
Age: 44
Occupation: Building contractor, partner in a 29-year-old family-owned business
Years living in Portsmouth: 32
Prior public service experience: Portsmouth Little League: coach and manager, member of the board of directors. Member of Portsmouth Recreation Board. Served on Pro Portsmouth board of directors. Long-time volunteer Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, First Night, Market Square Day, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Portsmouth Christmas Parade, Bow Street Fair, and Children’s Day.

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 rarely walk downtown, but often walk to the West End. The Portsmouth Listens study circles on transportation had some great suggestions to encourage pedestrian and public transit use.

How would you address growth and development throughout Portsmouth? 
I believe we should be looking into implementing impact fees, much like other communities who are experiencing similar growth. Dwelling impact fees, parking impact fees, water/sewer impact fees, etc., would guarantee an investment into our community, a revenue stream for infrastructure. It would take a significant burden off of the taxpayers.

What can the city do to restore public confidence in the police department and the police commission?
I hope that the upcoming election for the police commission will be a positive step in the right direction. After all, this is the commission that will be elected by the people. It’s up to the voters to decide who and what direction we go from here.

How can Portsmouth encourage the development of more affordable and workforce housing?
The simplest way would be to buy property and set forth certain goals and standards to meet the needs of the city. In order to meet our needs, owning the property would guarantee our rights to fulfill the housing diversity needed in the city. Or partner with developers, waving the impact fees (mentioned) above to get what the community needs.

What role should the council have in working with the Prescott Park Arts Festival to address residents’ complaints about noise?
The residents that have spoken up have asked for nothing more than to turn the volume down. Nothing more. Simply agree to a level of volume and abide by it. Both sides.

How can Portsmouth respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change?
Perhaps looking into solar power for all of our municipal buildings would be a good start. Earlier this year I attended a joint meeting with school department and the recreation board. A group of student from PHS presented some facts about solar power. Maybe we should start exploring this idea.

What is one recent change for the better in the city, and one you hope to champion as a councilor?
The termination of Aaron Goodwin was a needed change for the better. What is still needed is a formal apology to John Connors and stricter rules regarding transparency, ethics, and conflicts of interest.

What was the most recent cultural event you attended in Portsmouth? I’d like to say a city council or a land use board meeting, but most would ask how is that cultural. That’s a matter of opinion. I believe “Shrek” at the Prescott Park last summer was the last play that we attended. These days we go to many football and volleyball games, because our children play.

What is the most important issue facing the city that no one is talking about yet?
It is the tremendous impact to the South End, both in cost and quality of life, of building a new sewer treatment plant at Pierce Island. Why would we double down on a mistake the city made over 40 years ago? Pierce Island is a jewel; we should keep it that way. No one is talking about three to four years of daily construction and traffic up and down Marcy Street and the impacts to our recreational facilities (outdoor pool, boat launch, etc.), the fishing co-op, PPAF, and Strawbery Banke. Would any of these survive?