Chris Hamilton for Newark City Council
Home Values Positions Contact Election Info
I have experience partnering with different communities across the country, and the key to any success is to ask questions, find common goals, and build relationships. We have an amazing amount of talent and experience in Newark with people from all over the world. Imagine if we formed partnerships with them to find creative solutions to our biggest challenges. On Council, I would engage our residents and community partners, including the university, with open and honest communication to offer better solutions for our town.
Read more about Chris Hamilton's positions on some of Newark's key issues:
Traffic & Parking
Communication & Decision Making
GENERALAcross our district, residents are concerned about several things relating to their quality of life, their budget, better communication and leadership from city council, and the city's relationship with the university. As your city council representative, I will consistently ensure those issues guide my decisions in how we move forward.
BUDGETWe need a long-term fiscal plan to address the needs of our district's diverse group of residents and community partners. We have some of our most vulnerable residents struggling to pay their bills, and we continue to increase our budget at too high a pace. Our operating expenses are up 6.3% this year. Since 2013, water rates increased a whopping 25.9%, sewer 8.4%, property taxes 11.1%, and this year council is adding a significant stormwater fee to each household. Make no mistake, we have a need for city services, but for perspective, the Consumer Price Index rose only 2.5% during that time. What are we doing with our money? We've added 25 city positions in recent years, with little visible benefits to residents and more red tape for our local businesses. On council, I will help to prioritize our goals so that we get a better bang for our buck.
Additionally, I support local business growth, but it must be balanced. Look around and you'll see empty store fronts throughout Newark. We need to officially alter the city's relationship with the Downtown Newark Partnership and expand our attention to other local businesses in other areas. As Newark grows, we need to build in a smarter way that allows neighborhoods and their local businesses to flourish. I want to help council better integrate their decisions for the combined benefit of our residents and smaller business interests.
Lastly, our city staff spends a lot of our money on outside consultants while ignoring valuable local resources. There are university professors, graduate students, retired engineers, and many other subject matter experts in our neighborhoods, and we should reach out to those people in order to help resolve our city's challenges at a lower cost, and with money that will stay in our community. We need to build those relationships and engage with our local talents because we all want to see our city thrive.
TRAFFIC and PARKING$20 million or more for a parking garage in the wrong place? No, thanks. A less costly and more effective solution is to create a parking app and provide electronic signs telling people how many spots are available where.
More importantly, traffic and parking is a self-inflicted problem that is a direct result of our car friendly building codes and our council members recently approving a large number of patchwork development projects with little focus on how those projects impact traffic. Going forward, we need a holistic, healthier plan for how we want Newark to grow, and we need to improve our public transportation options, including making the city more bike and pedestrian friendly. Once projects are built, it is much harder and more expensive to try to rectify traffic problems than if the projects were planned properly in the first place. It will take courage on council, but we need to make changes to the way we plan for our future.
NEIGHBORHOOD INTEGRITYLiving in a university town results in some conflicts between students and other residents. To address that issue, several university towns, including Amherst, Massachusetts, and Boulder, Colorado, have successfully implemented an off-campus party registration program with the goal of reducing noise and improving relations between students and homeowners. Newark could partner with UD to pursue a similar program. Read more about Amherst's efforts here.
In addition, some of the rental properties in the neighborhoods are not maintained as well as they should be, and some are overcrowded. There certainly are many excellent landlords, who care for their property and communicate well with their neighbors. Unfortunately, we also have some absentee landlords who allow their houses to become problematic. To maintain the integrity of our neighborhoods, the city needs to enforce our zoning and housing codes in order to increase everyone's safety and quality of life.
COMMUNCATION and DECISION MAKINGOn city council, I would make a consistent effort to reach out to our residents and community partners in order to gain perspective and expertise in making decisions for our town. In the past, we've wasted an enormous amount of money on lawsuits that result from short-sighted city council decisions and poor communications. Just last year, city council members abruptly voted to downzone the Newark Country Club. Predictably, we spent considerable money on legal fees and had to reverse that decision. We need better, smarter decisions from our council members. The reservoir lawsuit cost us millions of dollars, the city was recently sued by local landlords and we had to pay out a million dollars, and the data center, under a poorly thought out non-disclosure agreement, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and wasted a tremendous amount of everyone's time. City staff and city council need to partner with the community to bring about a vision of how we want our city to move forward. Secret negotiations made by a few people, without community input, result in rash decisions on council, and those decisions have been expensive and damaging to us all.
UDAs a city council representative, I will focus on improving the relationship and communication between the city and the university. There is a way to build better relationships with the university administration, faculty, staff, and students, and it starts with finding common ground and building a long-term plan for our mutual success.