Humble Thanks

To everyone who greeted me at their doors, invited me into their homes, answered their ringing telephones and busy email boxes, asked to display and hold signs, wrote letters to the editor, and contributed in varying ways, thank you. The list is long and you know who you are.

To the mayor and my fellow councilors: I look forward to a fruitful relationship and working on issues that the people asked me to do, such as fixing our eroding beaches and readying against rising seas, ending the landfill saga, improving Storey Avenue zoning, and keeping the central waterfront as open as possible. I am committed to bridging the gap between City Hall and the City.

To the school committee: With Superintendent Viccaro in place, I look forward to working together and with the community regarding pending changes in buildings, playgrounds, and infrastructure. Let’s bring back programs and keep costs low.

To you: My door remains open for questions, compliments, and hopefully few gripes. You can call me (978.558.0008), email me (ariherzog@gmail.com), join my Facebook group for active conversations, and more. Be sure and submit your email address in the form to the right; this will place you on my email newsletter for once- or twice-monthly messages.

Thank you for re-electing me to a third term as your councillor at large. Let’s work together!

Why I’m Running and Other Questions

Responding to questions by the Daily News, and not knowing if anything will be edited, I felt I should post my answers here.

Reason for running?

In four words, I love the job!

We’ve worked together to launch some innovative programs (such as off-leash dog areas) and reduce taxes (such as buying streetlights from National Grid to save about $75,000 a year). The hours are long but I enjoy every second. I have a lot of ideas to innovate the city and I’d be humbled if the people would re-elect me to a third term.

Social media is my friend; and I use Facebook and Twitter along with a blog, email, and the telephone to be nonstop accessible to residents. People routinely thank me for communicating my thoughts — and for my quick responses to their questions. I encourage you to see this first-hand by subscribing to my blog and email alerts at http://councilorariherzog.com.

What is your position on the central waterfront?

We know that building construction will occur in coming years on Waterside West (stretching from the Black Cow to the Route 1 bridge) and Waterside East (stretching from Oldies to the Coast Guard Station), two areas underutilized today and both predominantly owned by New England Development. We also know that NED allegedly wants to build a hotel and parking garage across from Horton’s Yard. Further, we know the Custom House Maritime Museum wants to expand into their rear lawn.

With various stages of development for these areas, the majority of people I’ve met on the campaign trail do not want to build on NRA land. I agree with them. I support an open central waterfront.

What can be done to improve the schools?

The city council’s joint education committee is ordained to “be concerned with the activities and policies of the school committee and act as liaison between the school committee and the city council on issues of education and school finances.” Yet, when the council recently was tasked with approving CPA action involving high school exterior masonry, neither the budget and finance committee nor other councilors present were aware of the issues.

The joint ed committee should meet regularly with the school committee, perhaps for 15 or 30 minutes before school committee meetings on a monthly basis. This will strengthen ties between the two boards and empower us with foresight to better work with the budget and to adequately suggest improvement mechanisms to the mayor.

What would be a special interest for you if you are a city councilor?

Transportation will be a priority. We need to investigate launching a citywide shuttle service — because taking an MVRTA intercity bus from downtown to Port Plaza is inefficient. Let’s partner with bike shops to install bicycle rental stations throughout the city (similar to Boston and Cambridge). Would Zipcar come here? Many residents agree with me that constructing an electric trolley would be awesome.

In the short term and for small money, we need to create a brochure that includes transit options, access points, phone numbers and websites, rates, and carbon footprints. In the longer term, we need to set into motion a seamless transit grid to make it a cinch to connect people from the train station to downtown and the beach with minimal city resources. I will work to raise funds to hire an economic development director to, among other things, fix our transportation obstacles.

Voting Yes, No, or Present

When I support an order or ordinance, I vote yes.

When I oppose it, I vote no.

When I neither support nor oppose because of the way it’s worded or a fundamental conflict, I vote present.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Because bills need “yes” votes to pass, “present” translates to “a soft no,” as Deputy Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont put it.

“One use for it is when you favor an idea, but you think the bill has a fatal flaw of some sort,” she said. “Another is when you have a conflict of interest. And another is when you want to play both sides of the fence … or to avoid casting a vote that your next opponent will try to take out of context.”

Across the aisle, Sen. John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, defined “present” as “no with an explanation.”

Cullerton said another use of the seemingly squirrelly vote is to “signify displeasure with the process, but not the concept.”

If you tally all of my city council votes since my first election, you will find lots of yeses and lots of nos. You will find a few present votes here and there. It’s so random that I don’t keep track.

I voted present earlier this week — as the Daily News reports here — and I’ve since received some flak about it. As I said moments earlier when standing and verbally deliberating, I very much support open government but the order was akin to “opening government” especially as the language placed test results and litigation strategies in the same sentence.

Make sense?