Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vote Nov. 2: Fitzgerald for Council

I’m running for City Council in 2010.
As a council member, my training curve will be less steep than for most. I’ve served in the office for four years, 2000-2004. I have the experience, the knowledge, and the memories of what we did right and wrong in a tumultuous period for the city. During that time the council built a new high school and approved a new comprehensive plan for the city. We also voted to complete Heritage Oaks, a decision that I hope and believe most of my neighbors have come to accept as the only cost-effective option.
The main thrust of my campaign will be the future development of Harrisonburg. The Friendly City needs to continue to be the sum of its people, and not the sum of its strip malls, townhouses, student housing, and parking lots.
The city is developed to the point that any variance, special-use permit, or rezoning decision will have permanent consequences not just where it’s granted but for the city as a whole. Sometime in the next decade, we’ll be down to the last square mile of undeveloped land in the city. We need to plan more wisely, and more long-range. We are past the point as a city that development decision can be made based on friendships and the needs of the individual developer. It doesn’t help to be the City with the Planned Future if we don’t stick to that plan.
There are other challenges facing the city. Taxes and services cannot both continue to grow in a recovering economy. Police, fire, and rescue services need to meet the needs of our changing community without losing touch with that community. We need to make sure our roads meet the needs of the city’s drivers while working to encourage increased bicycle, bus, and pedestrian traffic. We need to continue looking for ways that recreation, especially the golf course, can pay for itself.