Thursday, October 27, 2005

City Council District 5: James Hughes

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): James Hughes, presently serving as mayor of South Portland, is running for re-election to his District 5 seat because “we’ve got some stuff that I don’t think I finished.” '

He lives on Broadway near Westbrook Street and originally ran because of the traffic in his neighborhood, and his involvement in the Broadway Westbrook Neighborhood Association dealing with traffic.

A committee that surveyed the area recommended granite curbing, especially in the area where schoolchildren cross Broadway. The cost projected was $600,000, which came down at about the same time as the 1 percent tax cap referendum, and was put off for that reason.

Hughes wants to install granite curb in “at least that portion where the schoolkids are,” which would cost less.

Also in terms of traffic, he wants to continue to work on local, state and federal funding for a noise barrier along I-295, which residents want and which has taken some time to make progress on.

He also wants to keep an eye on the Maine Mall area traffic work now in progress and coming up in the next two or three years.

Hughes, a 61-year-old computer consultant, said the past year brought improvements in both the budget process and spending control. City spending increased less than 3 percent last year, in part because he helped build a good partnership with the School Board, Hughes said.

He said he has helped save taxpayer dollars by changing the city’s rules to require a bid process for every purchase over $10,000. “The taxes we pay are well spent,” he said.

He said the city faces a zoning challenge because “our ordinance hasn’t kept up with the changes in the city,” and also because the city doesn’t clearly explain to people how planning boards and zoning boards should work.

Hughes wants to see more affordable housing come to the city, citing Brickhill as a good example. “South Portland is the first city in Maine to use the new law” that allows cities to create tax-increment financing for housing developments, he said.

He supports the efforts of the dog committee so far, including a better definition of what “voice control” of a dog really means. He wants to see the group work more on the remaining issues, such as access to public parks.

“It makes sense to me that we have areas in our parks that are dog-friendly,” he said.