Your Daily Local reached out to the candidates for City Council to get their take on some of the most pressing issues currently facing the City of Warren. Their responses follow.
(Editor’s note: we are running the questions and responses in their entirety, with only minor corrections made for spelling/grammar where applicable.)
See all the candidates here
Q: What most qualifies you to serve on City Council?
A: Warren, at this time is going through a difficult period of transitioning in and out of Covid issues and struggling in the difficult economic situation. City Leadership has good intentions but the problems seem overwhelming at times.
I believe I can help in solving some of the issues.
Looking at it from a distant outside, I, am a person with no personal agenda and with many years of business experience, can help provide assistance to the team in finding equitable business type solutions. My education and practical experience include a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree, a Graduate of the prestigious Six Sigma Master Black Belt (statistical process improvement) program, plus a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Raised in Warren in the early seventies, attending Jefferson Elementary and Beatty Middle school, while my father, Reverend Richard Goss, was the Assistant Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Warren, I developed fond memories. Returning to Warren seven-plus years ago, I was longing for the good old days
When elected, the focus of my efforts would be directed towards:
-Reviving local economy
My understanding of the infrastructure of the leadership community comes from serving as Vice Chair of the Redevelopment Authority (RDA), an Associate board member on the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI), and a Trestle to Trestle task force member.
I have the knowledge of the community, I am educated, I am experienced in problem-solving and I have made a career out of “GETTING THINGS DONE”.
That is why I am running for City Council seat and I humbly ask for your vote and support Tuesday, November 2.
My personal promise is to fight full time for all Warren residents, from children to retirees and all those in between.”
Q: Why should someone “cross the aisle” to cast their vote for you?
A: I am running in the election for a seat on city council. This is not a Republican seat or a Democrat seat.
My expectation is that you, the voters would look at the qualifications of all candidates and make a judgment on who you can trust most to deliver for you the taxpayers. As a council member, I will represent all the citizens of Warren not just those of any particular party affiliation. I will unbiasedly listen and ensure that I hear all voices and commit to doing what is best for the city of Warren.
Q: What is the most pressing issue currently facing the City, and how do you propose to solve it?
A: We in Warren are lacking a focused strategic direction and we are just jumping from one crisis to another and are solving issues on an isolated basis based on the best available information at that time. If we have a comprehensive short and long-term strategic plan, then solving issues becomes easy and solutions are sustainable over time.
Community Economic Development is a ‘three-legged stool’ and all three legs of this stool have to be in place and functioning, for commanding community success.
-Leg 1) A short and long-term strategic plan has to be in place with the community buy-in knowing what we want to be as we grow. This has to be done before any action is taken. Warren City has retained a consultant to create this as a first step
-Leg 2) Have funding sources explored and tapped into so as to not rely on taxpayers to foot the bill. Urban Policy experts & Organizations like Bruce Katz of Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University could be tapped to help go after various pots of Government Funding available through many agencies. We need a strategy for going after government funding from existing government programs as well as from grants expected to be available in the next few years through the Infrastructure bill.
-Leg 3) There has to be a willingness on part of Council to make stuff happen and not get bogged down in excuses to not act. Case in point is the matter of outdoor tables and chairs earlier this year. If it was not possible to use City funds and it was agreed by all parties that new the tables and chairs would help businesses, then alternate funding sources including private funding should have been pursued to just get this done. But our council froze, did nothing and this was a loss to the merchants and the community.
Q: What does development of Washington Park look like to you?
A: This is possibly the last chunk of natural beauty left in Warren and we have to be careful what we plan for as we develop its use. Some ideas on Washington Park development are:
-We need to continue to obtain community feedback and then agree to the objective.
-It is important that whatever we determine to do, does not result in a tax burden to our residents.
-Ensure that we are working with the county and coordinating with surrounding townships.
Q: What budgetary solutions would you offer in order to hold the line on taxes?
A: First Concept: Zero Based Budgeting:
When on City Council, I will look at every single line item on the budget, including the cost for legal services and debt management to make sure the need is adequately served. The concept of ZERO Based Budgeting is an effective business tool where all budget items are zeroed out and then rebuilt item by item based on current needs. We have to first adopt the ZERO Based budgeting concept for all budgetary items. Every item must be re-justified based on current economic conditions and constituent needs.
Second concept is; Operational efficiencies.
As a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt holder, I have undergone the training and have the certification in solving difficult business problems and identifying process efficiencies. This fact based methodology of Six Sigma has trained me to work with those closest to the process in identifying opportunities and work towards the operational efficiencies necessary to ensure savings and thereby leading to responsible spending. One has to make sure all operations are at peak efficiency before any cuts should be made.
Third concept is: Responsible spending
My campaign for City Council is based on introducing the concept of responsible spending. I am committed to ensuring responsible city spending. Often times in city council meetings, decisions appear to be approved cart blanch without in-depth evaluation. Part of my budget review will include looking into every decision made in the last four years and re-evaluate as needed.
The Operating mission defined here will be two fold, to reduce expenses and increase revenue.
Q: What key piece is the City missing that would allow it to attract more residents/businesses and how would you propose to find it?
A: Looking ahead one has to build on the strengths of our Community, some of which are:
-We are a community of Low to No Crime,
-Availability of Cultural Activities
-Low to none drug activity
-“Close to nature” activities in abundance.
-Overall, GREAT quality of life.
-Quiet neighborhoods, pride of history and sense of community.
To create business growth, our action items should include:
-Promote and Revitalize our Downtown. Business growth. Our focus should also be on growth of small business and our support to them as they grow and serve the community.
-Attract new business by providing information on how to start a business. Remove barriers and unnecessary steps for owning a business.
To create growth of residents:
There is a new trend growing of “Working from Home” where many mid and high level executives are now working from home. A few cities in USA are tapping into this by advertising and catering to invite this category of workers who are looking for quality of life where they live as they work from home. We invite those folks to move to Warren.
Q: Aside from withdrawing from the mutual aid agreement, what steps can the City take to help solve the EMS crisis?
A: Letters written by council to the state of Pennsylvania are a good first step
Now, the First point to consider is:
-Do we have to have an EMS Service provided by the City of Warren? Can we have a debate on the subject and look at selling the EMS portion of services to an outside group like EmergyCare. We sell the total EMS business, all assets and liabilities.
-If we do not decide to sell the EMS business, then we have an open discussion on pricing and charges of service provided to residents of townships outside Warren.
That discussion could include:
-It is generally understood that the responsibility of providing EMS services to their residents falls on the shoulders of their respective municipalities. So, if the City of Warren provides a service to residents outside the city, then that service must be fully paid for, just like anything else.
Our city needs to identify the total cost per EMS trip. This is what we need to charge non-city townships where we provide EMS services. We have to be fully reimbursed. These charges must be the FULLY LOADED COST that includes all costs including cost of pension, retirement, overtime, etc. – not just salaries. We need to charge and be reimbursed accordingly based on the fully loaded cost incurred by the city in providing these services. For example in the case of Pleasant Township, did we use the correct model to price our services to them?
This is something I can help with through my business training.
Q: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the City?
A: Transparency. Getting residents and the community involved earlier in the process. Providing a link on the city website providing the opportunity for residents to provide feedback.
We could also have City town hall meetings on a periodic basis where the city management faces the taxpayers and the residents could give input.
Q: If elected, what steps would you take to put the City on more sound financial footing?
A: Zero Based Budgeting