The Sound’s 2015 Somersworth City Council Voter’s Guide: David Witham

David Witham

David Witham

For an At-Large seat: David A. Witham (Incumbent)
Age: 49
Occupation: Risk Manager
Years living in Somersworth: 49
Prior public service experience: City council (six years); planning board (10 years); chairman, 2009 charter review commission; Somersworth firefighter (24 years).

The last two years have seen the completion of the large downtown road, sidewalk, and infrastructure project, as well as the passage of an ordinance that requires landlords to clean up their property. In the next two years, what do you think is the most important think the council can do to build and support vitality in downtown?
The downtown infrastructure improvement project is an important beginning to an overall effort to improve the community. Coupled with enhanced property maintenance and active efforts to maintain an improving community image and investment, Somersworth will continue to move in a positive direction. Already, property owners are starting to reinvest into their buildings, further enhancing the city’s image and vitality.

What should the city’s priorities be for future capital improvement projects in the community?
The city has a rolling six year capital improvement plan that charts a course for needs and funding of capital projects, those big ticket items. Actively underway right now are plans for a complete renovation of the career technical center at the high school. Beyond that, the next most visible items to be addressed are roads. A recently-developed pavement management plan will chart a course for road resurfacing and reconstruction projects. The list is daunting but the council, myself included, certainly see the need and will continue to invest in roads.

Would you be willing to support a tax cap override while developing city budgets? Why or why not?
Yes, I have and will. During our most recent budget process (FY ’16) that the council tackled this past spring, I led the charge for an override to support public education. An override requires a two-thirds vote of council; that was achieved, as it was recognized that factors impacting expenses and revenues to the school department would have required devastating cuts to staff (teachers) had the override not been sought and approved. Overrides are serious and are not done haphazardly. Rather, the council made a calculated, well-debated decision to override to save teachers and to continue on our path to educational excellence in the City.

How can officials best address the opioid addiction epidemic that’s effecting the city and the region?
Somersworth was a leader in recognizing the scope of the problem, as evidenced by the mayor’s creation of a special task force to examine the issue. I was assigned as the council representative to this task force.  The task force developed recommendations that the council should examine and pursue. As an elected official, I can help to support the recommendations for treatment centers, funding drug abuse prevention education, and offering a supportive and compassionate ear to those in need.

What is the most recent cultural event you attended in Somersworth?
The Somersworth High School alumni association hosted a fundraiser to support its scholarship program on Sept. 26. As many in the community know, I am very involved with the community as a whole. One example is my nearly-40-year involvement with youth baseball in the community. As the current president of Somersworth Babe Ruth Baseball, I’ve worked alongside others spearheading an effort to reconstruct the ball field at the Noble Pines Park this past summer.

What are the most important issues facing the city that no one is talking about right now?
In the background of most every decision made by council is the issue of funding. Whether it’s road improvements or maintaining city staff, funding is the driving force of those conversations. While funding is discussed, what’s not talked about enough is the impact of state legislative policy on local communities. Whether it’s cost shifting from the state to the local level or changes in business policy, it affects us locally, and hard. N.H.’s tax structure is not necessarily the most equitable system, and that, coupled with the impact of state actions, needs more attention.