And now for the district with no incumbents.
Please forgive me for using DC for Derek Czenczelewski. That's a tough name to type quickly!
All four candidates are here: DC, David Mills, Kate Matthews and Terry Parker.
It's noteworthy that Matthews is the first woman to sit up there for the debates the whole evening (though Bishop would have been here, too, save for a poorly timed flu).
There hasn't been a woman on the council since Ellen Zoppo departed two years ago after her mayoral bid fell short. I'm not sure how long, if ever, there's been more than one woman councilor among the six.
Bristol remains a little behind the times on such things.
Q - INdustrial park...
Matthews said the city has four options to accelerate the sale of lots in the new business park off Middle Street -- to give BDA more money to advertise more effectively, possibly hiring a professional broker "to push those lots," perhaps dropping the price or working out other financial arrangements, and the city could offer increased tax abatements.
Mills said there is an opportunity "to determine what we want to go in there."
The city should "make a list" of which companies are wanted and then go out and recruit them.
Parker said it is about marketing and tax breaks.
"We also have a great opportunity and we also have a great site," Parker said. Because Bristol is halfway between Boston and New York, it's attractive.
DC said he agrees marketing is crucial. He urged local, regional and national advertising. He said Bristol "lags behind" in information technology and ought to try to cluster firms in the park.
Clustering can "create a snowball" and can be a success, DC said.
Q -- Forestville... and 72...
Mills said the city should follow the recommendations of the study five years ago. Improving the pedestrian flow in the village center is important. He said that the old Sessions building could perhaps house condos.
The Forestville Village Association should play a role. The new road will make the area more viable than it is today.
Parker said that ROute 72 creates "a great opportunity."
He said the city should investigate removing the island in the center. It is imperative that whatever is done be "the people's development" and not a City Council one " so we can have development that is in the character of Forestville."
DC said condos are a good idea.
He said the new road is going to be a tremendous boost for Forestville by "opening up the entire area."
Matthews said she read the Route 72 corridor study, which is "a comprehensive, forward-looking" report that she endorses. I'll link to it later.
She said she is a lifelong Forestville resident "and a lot of people in my part of town" are concerned about what changing traffic patterns may mean. "This issue needs to be handled with care," Matthews said.
Matthews called for a holistic approach that deals with the wide range of issues that Route 72 will create.
Q -- marketing...
Mills said that until Bristol identies what it wants to be, attracting people to town will be hard. He said the city needs to tackle blight and "sell cleanup to everyone," improve the city's gateways.
He said he would like to get local landscapers to agree to care for one of the gateways.
"It's critical that we market the city the way we should," Mills said, including improving the city's website.
Parker said the city is unique in that it borders six other towns. Each has unique gateways to Bristol. Landscaing idea is "great," he said.
Parker said the BDA needs the tools to market the city.
DC said that Bristol's economy is now 20 percent in digital information, due to ESPN. A lot of people want to work there and we should encourage other jobs in the same sector to grow the IT cluster.
"We have a lot of other opportunities" beyond ESPN in the same business, DC said.
Matthews said the city need to make sure that zoning is business friendly and making a place where companies want to come, providing quality schools, safe streets and more.
"We have to make Bristol a worthwhile place to live and I believe we do," she said, and to keep pushing forward to preserve quality of life.
"We also have a highly qualifed workforce," she said.
Q -- marketing...
DC said the first step is to get the BDA, BDDC and chamber to get on the same page. THey need to meet montly to improve communications.
The city needs to revamp its website and to utilize social media.
The bedrock of any community are its working families, Matthews said, where excellent schools are crucial.
Matthews said she would continue the grants and incentives the BDA has used successfully to lure business to town.
Mills said bringing people to Bristol "is just like recruiting." First you need to analyze the need, then where do you find it. You have "go out and do your homework." Then list them and contact them. Follow up with those that show interest. "Invite them to the city," Mills said.
Ties in to cleaning up city and improving gateways. It ties into downtown where you don't want "a desolated, vacant lot," Mills said. The mall site "is crucial."
Parker said all of the suggestions "are great ideas."
"We are a great community," Parker said, and "this is an economic force to be reckoned with."
Q - higher ed...
Parker said this community has long sent students to all of the state universities. The president of the state university system is someone Parker has known for two decades. He said the city can talk to him. He's a visionary, he said.
"We can probably work something out," Parker said.
Mills said the city should approach nearby schools. It could also potentially partner with Bristol Hospital to help train people it needs. It could be "a great marriage," Mills said.
He said that developing Depot Square into a destination offers the hope of attracting more.
"Depot Square is the catalyst that's going to turn our city around," Mills said.
Matthews said she echoes some of Mills' comments. She said the site is a great site for a college branch.
"We may have some difficulty marketing that," Matthews said. She said the Tunxis satellite in town is underutilized and needs to "do what it should be doing."
Others will wonder if it's a good place to be if Tunxis isn't fully utilized downtown.
Matthews said that education is key.
DC said that with the struggling economy "a lot of people have been going back to school."
Tunxis may want to expand in Bristol.
It might also be able to attract a training school, too, DC said.
He said that a rich nightlife would help attract youths to Bristol.
Matthews said she is a mother, wife, homeowner and lawyer who has lived her whole life in Bristol. She said she's looking forward to sending her young daughter to the new k-8 school on Pine Street.
"In these trying times," she said, the city needs to be fiscally conservative.
She said she is "an ethicak, fair and independent-minded" person.
Mills said that over the last two months he's had "so many people come up to me and ask what are you doing?"
"I'm excited about Bristol's future," Mills said. He said he's tired of people saying, "This is Bristol. What do you expect?"
With two new schools, tranforming Forestville "into a quaint, welcoming village" and more, Bristol will be the city we all want.
Parker said he's lived in Bristol for 40 years. He said he's been an election moderator for more than 20 years, raised a family "and I do love this city."
"This community is a community in transition" and Depot Square will help define what kind of community it becomes, Parker said.
He said he is committed to getting the input of as many residents as possible on key issues.
"The people have a right to be heard," Parker said.
DC said he is "relentless" and "will keep hammering away" to accomplish his goals.
He said he has a solid education and leadership skills. He said he decided to run "nearly five years ago."
Bristol has "done nothing" with the mall site. Now is the time to do something, he said.
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