Ken Johnson said that as mayor he will serve everyone. Party platforms matter at national level. But in Bristol, "we're not debating abortion rights and that sort of thing."
He said the debate is what's needed in Bristol. He said we need officials "who can set aside their own agenda and focus on you, the people."
Art Ward said in the past two years "we've seen the outcome of a divide and conquer administration."
Divisiveness can be "devastating"to a community, Ward said, but votes should be in the public interest.
He said that for 12 years he "worked hand in hand" with members of both parties. "I consider Stretch Norton a mentor," Ward said, and he held joint office hours with Republican Ron Burns for a year and a half.
Ward said there "will be no partisanship" when he's mayor. "We'll do what we're elected to do, and that's represent the people."
Bottom of the 7th - Red Sox still have four. Angels have zip.
Q - Mall?
Ward said there will always be discussion of whether the city should have bought the mall. But everyone has looked at "the white elephant" and wondered "why, where, when and how?"
"We have an opportunity here," Ward said, a chance to bring in new tax dollars. The mall paid $86K in yearly taxes. If it works out, he said, the revenue sould be $3-4 million annually.
He said the city needs to address its infrastructure on the site with state aid.
Johnson said the mall was bought quickly and perhaps the city paid too much. But, he said, the city needs "to deal with the current situation" and go forward.
He said residents tell him that they are frustrated and disgusted. "It's a pride issue. Our pride is wounded every time we drive by that parcel and we see that godforsake, decrepit structure still standing there," Johnson said. But it is not a a panacea, he said. "A shiny new metropolis" won't replace it in two years, he said. It will take time, Johnson said.
"We've got to do more to make downtown as attractive as Route 6," Johnson said.
Q - Fed Hill and West End?
Ward said the city needs a plan before it tries to buy blighted properties helter skelter. "It might be way too much for the city itself to handle," Ward said. But with a viable plan, it might be a way to address issue.
Johnson said he firmly opposes government in real estate business "unless there's a darn good reason for it."
He said the city has a problem because the city owns more than a hundred vacant or underutilized properties. If they were sold, it would make a substantial difference in tax rates, he said.
To address blight, we have an opportunity to use eminent domain to take blighted West End area for a school, Johnson said.
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