Action Annapolis Questionnaire
Nevin Young (R) | Mayor
Vision and Priorities
1. Please share your campaign vision and priorities. What strengths will you bring to the job, and what past experience has prepared you for the role of Alderman?
I envision a future for the City that is inclusive of all citizens, using technology to both provide information and receive information from the citizens. We must restore public integrity among city employees and root out discrimination and favoritism, while pursuing a balanced agenda of careful growth. As an attorney, I am tasked with solving problems creatively and identifying problematic issues every day, as well as negotiating solutions to complex problems. I also have the ability to identify potential legal hazards that other candidates seem to be lacking. I think one of the primary problems with past administrations is that former mayors have wanted city employees to view them as friends rather than as advocates for the citizens.
2. Do you support strengthening the role of the City Manager? Why or why not?
The ultimate authority must rest with the elected Mayor and Council. There is a risk that a City Manager will become too close to those who are supervised, and will collaborate with city employees in defending and covering up problems rather than addressing those problems to the benefit of the citizens.
3. Annapolis has vibrant economic opportunities. We also have a history of challenges in sustaining businesses in the City. What are your ideas in attracting and keeping businesses in Annapolis?
We believe that in the future, our tourism industry will benefit from mobile app and sign technology to inform people of available parking when they visit downtown, and we can do a great deal to streamline and facilitate permits and licensing.
4. How would you focus specifically on businesses owned by African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities?
I believe that once we have established fairness and non-discrimination, and informed people of the availability of assistance for minority owned businesses through state programs, that we can greatly expand the participation of underrepresented groups.
5. The Market House has a history of instability. What are your plans for a long-term solution to stabilize the Market House for the next generation and make it a hub for city activities?
The market house should be rented to those with viable business proposals. If the city cannot do that, then it should either be sold or given back to the donor family. It is not a proper city function to be so hands on in running what amounts to a private business.
6. Residents of HACA (Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis) locations continue to experience a disproportionate amount of crime and inadequate living conditions. What four actions would you recommend to address HACA residents’ immediate safety, security, and quality of life needs?
We need expanded community policing and substations in the vicinity of Newtowne and Eastport Terrace/Harbor House. We also need a revised drug policy that gives addicts the help they need, in order to reduce the demand for drugs. We can pursue a policy of job growth that attempts to connect local residents with jobs rather than bringing people from out of town to the city.
7. With federal funding eliminated for renovation and new construction of public housing, where will money come from for redevelopment of our existing public housing?
If the City prioritizes developing new housing, then it should be publicly funded. I do not think allowing private and public admixtures of investment or ownership is appropriate, due to potential for abuse, favoritism, etc.
8. Some of the housing has been redeveloped through public-private partnerships. Is this a good model, and why or why not?
See answer to question 7.
9. What is your position on privatizing of any of the city’s assets, e.g., recreational facilities, Market House, services?
City recreational facilities should not be privatized, as the running of such facilities is a traditional government function, and a profit motive will not necessarily be beneficial. Market house privatization may be considered. The privatization of parking enforcement was not good for the city and might be subject to reversal.
10. What will be your approach to reduce and prevent crime?
We must change out stale methods and outlooks on drug policy. We should have alternatives in place for opioid addicts and a strong community policing program. We should end the discrimination lawsuit by black officers and focus on recruiting and promoting from within for police work. We also must provide good summer job programs and recreational opportunities to city youth.
11. The budget currently before the City Council anticipates hiring additional police and fire employees. The city would have to provide funding in subsequent budgets to support the additional employees. What is your proposal regarding the source of those funds?
I do not believe the problem at present is lack of personnel. The problem is inept management and poor approach. We must support those employees from the general fund going forward, unfortunately.
Budget and Taxes
12. How will you propose financing general budget needs?
Our focus should be less upon fines and permit fees, and more upon general property tax revenue.
13. What is your position on the current mayor’s proposed tax cut of $330,000?
It is trivial, so that he can say he cut taxes. I think most city residents realize this.
14. Please rank the following for budget priorities, from highest to lowest priority: Arts, Community Parks and Recreation, Education, Infrastructure, Transparency, Transportation
If the city actually paid directly for the school system, obviously education would be first, but it does not. Therefore there is some ambiguity in how to construe this question. I would say that this is too complicated to give a simple ranked answer.
Equal Protection under the Law
15. In February 2017, the City Council passed Ordinance 0-1-17, Non-discrimination Foreign-Born Residents Equal Protection, acknowledging that all persons are due equal protection under the law. If you had been mayor/alderman at that time, how would you have voted on this ordinance, and why? If you are an incumbent, how did you vote and why?
The language of the ordinance, so long as it does not contradict existing Federal law, is perfectly appropriate, and I would have voted for it.
16. What are your environmental initiatives? What will you do to address long term environmental sustainability needs and what is your plan to pay for these initiatives?
We must be careful in terms of the development we allow, but not so unreasonable as to invite “takings” litigation. We also should insist upon the highest level of runoff and stormwater control, and make dumping in the harbor, of anything, an onerous civil offense.
17. In March 2017, the City Council adopted the Forest Conservation Reforestation ordinance, known as “No Net Loss,” which requires developers to replace each acre of trees they cut down. If you had been mayor/alderman at that time, how would you have voted on this ordinance, and why?
I would have voted for it only if it included alternative remediation methods to be made available to those who do not possess, or are unable to acquire, unforested property sufficient to comply with the law. To do otherwise invites regulatory takings litigation.
18. Do you believe that additional storm water treatment initiatives /efforts are required? If so, what would you recommend and how would they be funded?
Additional stormwater management should be required for all new developments, or substantial renovations. They should be funded by the owner of the subject property.
19. Would you consider joining with the 246 Mayors in the US in supporting the commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and work with them to support 21st Century a clean energy economy?
I have no problem stating my support for reduction of carbon emissions generally. However, much of the Paris Climate Agreement has nothing to do with the City, and to state that we are going to “enforce it” is different from stating that we support it. Many politicians have stated that they would like for Annapolis to state an intention to enforce or uphold the agreement, which is meaningless rhetoric. We should spend our time actually addressing local issues within our power.
20. The Eastport development project involves conflicts in the interpretation of the zoning code. How would you resolve this and future conflicts so that the developer and the community can rely on consistency in the approval process?
I believe the present administration knew this density calculation was questionable, and did not backpedal until the community complained. If this was actually an error by planning and zoning, I would want to know why this error happened, and might impose discipline, up to and including replacement, upon those who made the error. However, the fact that an error happened does not entitle the developer to build its proposed development. They still must comply with the law. These developers had the benefit of good legal advice, and if they were not trying to “slide one by” and were actually misinformed as to the complexities of the density calculation, then they should turn to their attorney for answers as to how this happened.
21. What is your position on requests being made by the Department of Recs and Parks for funding for the before and after-school program?
These are important programs and should be funded.
22. How do you think art in public places should be regulated and financed?
There should be a volunteer panel of local artists who decide upon whose work to use, and a general budget for purchasing or commissioning suitable works.
23. Members of city boards and commissions are required to provide a signed Statement of Compliance with the Provisions of Ethics Ordinance, affirming that they understand the provisions of the city code regarding public ethics and financial disclosure. Several members of the advisory boards and city commissions resigned because they took issue with the wording of the statement. Do you support any changes to make the statement non-controversial, and if so, what changes?
I would support changing the wording to address the objections of those who resigned. I believe their complaint about the wording had substantial merit.
24. Do you support the current Mayor-Council form of government or a Council - Manager form, and why?
Ultimately, the Mayor should be a “councilperson at large” and a bulwark against cronyism and complacency. The elected status of the Mayor is important. I have never believed that professional bureaucrats are as responsive to the citizens as elected officials. Therefore I support the current form.
25. Should boards and commissions have final say on the level of detail needed for their minutes, as long as that level met all legal and code requirements?
26. Would it be useful if the Mayor were to attend at least one board or commission hearing per month?
27. Should annual reports for each board and commission be posted on the city website?
28. How would you address the lack of women and minorities on City Boards and Commissions and as department heads? If so, how would you address it?
I would work hard to identify and appoint people from diverse backgrounds. I would focus on hiring, recruiting, and promoting locally. I believe the fascination with outside “talent”, such as the importation of Chief Pristoop from Baltimore and the importation of Mr. Gutwald from Harford County, were net negatives for the City. We have talented local people from diverse backgrounds.