At-large: George M. Mansfield (D, incumbent)

George M. Mansfield (photo provided)

George M. Mansfield (photo provided)

Explain why the City Council has at-large members, and what, if anything, can they offer that a ward representative cannot?

Having served six years as a city councilman, I have found that the at-large position allows for a broader focus on the issues and challenges our city faces. The position also allows for greater accessibility for my constituents. Everyone knows they can come to me with suggestions, concerns and complaints, regardless of their ward.

With two at-large and one ward representative, all residents of Beacon have three advocates to address their immediate needs on [the] council.

What is the single biggest issue that the City Council must address?

The single biggest issue facing our city today is affordability and gentrification. We enjoy today the many fruits of sound planning, active community involvement and some luck to have become a jewel of the Hudson Valley. But our successes may come at a cost we don’t anticipate. As we see taxes rise by increments, cost of services increase and housing demands begin to outweigh supply, we may find that those most vulnerable in our community can no longer afford to call it home.

I believe it is the responsibility of an elected official to serve not only our current residents but also the residents of our future. We must remain vigilant of the hidden impacts of hyper-growth and constantly review what we truly value as a community. We must legislate and plan according to those values. I believe the key to our future as a compassionate and sustainable community lies, in part, at our waterfront. It is the final area listed in our comprehensive plan to be rezoned in our city.

Zoned correctly, it has the potential to create many jobs, reduce the tax burden of current residents and become a destination for businesses and tourists alike. I will advocate strongly for a commercial zone that would expand our tax base while having minor impacts on our services.

What initiative are you most proud of from your previous term?

After three terms in office, the thing I am most proud of is the renewed attention being paid to our aging infrastructure. It is never easy to spend significant sums on things unseen, but left ignored we risk jeopardizing all that is. The willingness of recent administrations to invest in what is essentially our foundation will provide a sound footing for our future growth.

Though it gave me great pleasure to see the smiling faces at our recently opened pool this summer, I smile widest knowing that our sewage no longer empties into the Hudson or floods the homes of our tax payers. There are countless ways to spend tax dollars. I am proud to be among those that understand the value and importance of balancing the long- and short-term needs of our community.

What skills or experience qualifies you to serve as a council member?

Besides my experience on the council and the two years I served on the Beacon Planning Board, I have been self-employed for most of my adult life. Until opening my restaurant, Dogwood, three years ago, I was a carpenter and general contractor. I’ve learned many things from the precarious life of the self-employed. I’ve learned to manage money in lean times, to work within a budget, and, most importantly, to value the wisdom of those with whom I work.

Those lessons have served me well on [the] council. Additionally, I am a visual artist that pioneered many of the fringe neighborhoods in New York City, which today have become highly coveted. I have been at the forefront of gentrification and have seen its advantages and pitfalls. Places I called home are unrecognizable today. I do not wish to wake some day in Beacon to a town I no longer know. We must grow with intention, compassion, respect for our past and a sustainable vision for our future.

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