Election 2009: Buddington Pledges Openness, Practicality02:23AM / Saturday, October 31, 2009
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Eric Buddington is running for a two-year term on the City Council. He is a 12-year resident, and now a homeowner of four years, with a professional life split between computer programming and playing fiddle for dances throughout New England.
He grew up in Glastonbury, Conn., earned his bachelor's degree in Earth science from Wesleyan University. After spending a year doing research with the U.S. Geological Survey on the forests of central Massachusetts, he moved to North Adams in 1997. He bought a house in the High Street neighborhood about four years ago.
Buddington said he will bring to the council "a passion for understanding the facts of every issue, along with my background in environmental science, computers, and the arts."
Democracy is not just the possibility of residents being involved in local government. It only happens when we actually are involved. The very low public attendance at City Council meetings shows that we have room for improvement.
And here's how: We can allow the public to speak more at council meetings. Revoke the 2-minute, no-discussion-allowed "Cardimino Rule" and replace it with an open forum that allows for actual discussion for a longer time period.
Publish the agenda for the City Council meeting on the city's Web site the Friday before the meeting, if not earlier, so citizens can come prepared, or contact their representatives before the meeting. Publish the minutes afterwards in the same place.
Require the city to put the budget, ordinances, and assesment information online, so we all know the basics of where the city stands. If this is technically difficult, I will volunteer my time to make it happen, whether or not I am elected.
North Adams is surrounded by healthy forests on undeveloped land, which gives us an abundance of clean air and water. We have land along the Hoosic River that is suitable for farming. These things must be protected.
More than any other resource, the environment needs long-term planning. A clear plan for development and land use is an inexpensive way to ensure that our great-grandchildren still enjoy clean air and water. Once a property is developed with permanent buildings, it is too late to make these decisions.
North Adams also needs to do a better job of handling hazardous waste. Our current policy of going it alone, rather than cooperating with other Berkshire towns, is expensive and ineffective. We should seek a way to let residents dispose of mercury thermostats, paint solvents, lead batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and other common waste easily, frequently and in a single location.
The skilled artists that have moved to the city in recent years have already improved the city. We have quality artwork in the coffee shops, hospital, banks, galleries and just about everywhere else. While art and the tourism it generates don't provide a complete and stable economy, they are an important part of it, and a blessing that we should encourage and develop.
North Adams needs to have simple and definite rules for starting new businesses, and the council can create some of these. We need to move away from personal judgment of new business owners, and toward a system where a new businesses can be sure that if they meet written requirements, their businesses will be approved.
Furthermore, the city needs an advocate for new businesses, to make them feel welcome and to offer help understanding and obtaining the necessary permits. This should be someone who is not also responsible for enforcement. We also need an ambassador to the outside world, to promote North Adams to tourists and potential businesses.
I intend to distinguish myself as a city councilor by introducing detailed, practical, and incremental changes to the way North Adams governs itself. I value openness, simplicity, and foresight.
I appreciate your vote on Tuesday, and look forward to serving you on the North Adams City Council.