The Sound’s 2015 Somersworth City Council Voter’s Guide: John T. Kennedy

John T. Kennedy

John T. Kennedy

For an At-Large seat: John T. Kennedy
Age: 51
Occupation: Self-employed
Years living in Somersworth: 9
Prior public service experience: Member, West Milford, N.J. fire department, Berwick, Maine fire department (2007-2013); zoning board (alternate member), Fire Station Advisory Committee

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?
After talking to several business owners in downtown and hearing that there is very poor communication between the business owners and city hall, I would establish a bi-monthly meeting between business owners and the city council and have various department heads at these meetings address the issues the business owners are having. The city needs to promote a good working relationship to keep our current businesses in the city and to be able to draw new business to the downtown area.

What should the city’s priorities be for future capital improvement projects in the community?
The city needs to continue to rebuild its infrastructure. The city needs to fund the repair of many streets and sidewalks. An improved infrastructure will help the city draw more business to the city and the taxpayers will see their tax dollars at work.

Would you be willing to support a tax cap override while developing city budgets? Why or why not?
The citizens of Somersworth voted to have a tax cap. It is the responsibility of the elected officials to honor the wishes of its citizens. If the override was for road repairs, I would consider voting to override the tax cap. Otherwise, I would not vote in favor of a tax cap override.

How can officials best address the opioid addiction epidemic that’s affecting the city and the region?
The city needs to work with the county and state on this issue. The city cannot finance recovery programs. The city needs to have state funding. The public safety committee also need to work closely with the police department on strategies. The police department recently stated that they would need an additional four to five officers to help combat this problem. The city needs to find a way to add more officers to the department to take on this challenge.

What is the most recent cultural event you attended in Somersworth?
Not going to lie — I have not been to one.

What are the most important issues facing the city that no one is talking about right now?
A large percentage of the citizens do not know that the firefighters have not had a new contract in three and a half years, going on four years. They continue to do their jobs at a very professional level, all while not receiving a new contract or pay raise during this time. The city has given pay raises to non-union employees during this time and the other unions in the city have contracts and those employees have been receiving raises. The men and women of the city fire department need to be given a new contract. If elected, I will make sure that the city enters into negotiations with the fire department’s union and negotiates in good faith.