The Club has a membership of 500 in Newburyport alone and has done a great job organizing an important constituency.
Below is a summary of my remarks to the audience and you can also find Bruce Menin's comments on the forum here.
Summary for Newburyport Mothers Club, October 24, 2007
I want to thank the Newburyport Mothers Club and the Institution for Savings for sponsoring this forum.
My name is Ed Cameron and I'm running to represent Ward 4 on the City Council.
My wife Susanne, our daughter Anna, and I live on Oakland Street. And we feel blessed to live in a vibrant, historic, and beautiful city.
As working parents with a 4 year old who will enter Newburyport Public Schools next year and with our own parents now in their seventies, my wife and I are dealing with many of the day-to-day concerns you face.
In my personal and professional life, I've tried to match idealism and hope with pragmatism and a commitment to the hard work necessary for results.
With over twenty years of progressively responsible experience in the nonprofit and government sectors, I currently serve as Associate Executive Director for Housing and Homeless Services at Community Teamwork, Inc, a nonprofit in Lowell, where oversee a staff of 50 full time employees and a budget of $26 million. I also worked for the Mayor of the City of Boston and at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter.
I have an MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management from Boston University and a BA in Government from Clark University in Worcester.
I want to focus on three areas:
The children of Newburyport may represent 18% of our population but they represent 100% of our future.
If classes sizes continue to rise, if teaching positions continue to be cut, if foreign language instruction continues to be foreign to elementary and middle school classrooms, and if sports, arts, music, and transportation are only available to those whose parents can afford them – we will all feel the impact in our property values, in our economic vitality, and in the strength of our community. And our children will most certainly feel the impact.
The City Council, the School Committee, and the Mayor need to demand excellence in our schools and -- with State officials, with school administration and with the teachers union --push for reforms and cost-efficiencies at all times - not just during budget crises. As a last resort -- and only if steps are taken by the teachers union and if impact is minimized to seniors on fixed income – I would be open to putting another override vote on the ballot.
Our current form of government with a two-year mayoral term does not work. We need a local government that is effective and efficient, which can move us beyond gridlock, paralysis, and inaction. As many other cities and towns have done, I want Newburyport to create a Charter Commission with members chosen by voters, not by current elected officials, to look at other options for governance. For instance, we would be better served either by:
- a Mayor with a 4 year term with City Council terms remaining at 2 year or
- a professional City Manager hired by the City Council.
A basic service provided by most other cities and towns is a senior center. After years of inaction, Newburyport seniors deserve a Senior Center. I share Mayor Moak's position on locating a Senior Center at Cushing Park retaining the current playground and some parking.
We need more than a stagnant downtown seasonal economy and a limited industrial sector if we are to have a strong tax base that places less burden on residential taxpayers. Because it has such great public value as destination open space and will complement the historic tourism of Newburyport, I am in favor of more park at the two dirt lots currently owned and managed by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority. We should retain a limited amount of parking for senior and handicapped access. The citizens of Newburyport have spoken repeatedly in favor of this solution.
I believe I have the qualifications, energy and creativity to make a contribution. I'm asking not only for your vote on Tuesday, November 6th but also for your ideas and energy. With your support, we can make a difference.