Name: Jessica M. White
Address: 153 Eastern Ave – Ward 2 (Relocating in Oct to Ward 4)
Family: Two children: son is a 20yr old soldier in the 101st Airborne, US Army; daughter is a 15yr old sophomore at Keene High.
Education: 1996 HS Graduate with college credits
Occupation: Customer Service in Manufacturing industry
Organizations to which you belong/have belonged: Not part of any official organizations. I am a Notary for NH and Co-founder of SaveNH-Keene Hates Heroin.
Previous elected office: None
How long have you lived in Keene? born and raised here
Why are you running for City Council?
I have a great love for my home town. As I have grown into adulthood I’ve observed the changes over time. I feel my passion and willingness to be a part of more will be an asset to the current council. I represent a younger generation than those who have held seats for over a decade. I believe I can promote new and creative thinking that will be an overall positive change to our community.
What role do Keene City Councilors have in addressing the heroin/opioid crisis gripping our community? Please be specific.
City Council is responsible for the overall “well-being” of our community. It is their responsibility to listen to issues of the residents and to act on them. Council, City Manager, and Municipalities of the City have a duty to act on items brought to their attention and address them accordingly. Heroin was brought to their attention over a year ago, yet it has taken too long be addressed formally. The Mayor’s newly formed drug misuse committee is a step in the right direction. Additional ad-hoc committees may be needed as well and I would support and exhaust all efforts with the mindset that we must act and do, not just talk.
Are Keene Taxes too high? Where could spending be cut? Where is the city not spending enough?
Statistically, Keene is at the top of highest tax rates in NH. How the City justifies the current tax rates is an area I intend to learn in depth and understand the driving factors. I am not afraid to look at the city budget with fresh eyes and pick through it and challenge every line item on it. At the same time, I intend to support areas where we can gain revenue. I’m not opposed to looking at what other cities in the state do to help offset the taxes residents pay.
What is a key challenge affecting the people of Keene and what would you do about it?
The relationship between Keene State students and residents of Keene has been declining over the past several years. It has a profound effect in the overall image of our city. For ¾ of a calendar year many residents are subjected to the increasing # of students and rise in off campus housing options. Resentment has evolved and will continue to escalate for years to come. One area I plan to focus on is learning exactly what capabilities council has to correct college related issues rather than massage them when needed. Council should utilize any opportunity they have to firmly enforce city codes and ordinances and work directly with the KPD to enforce them. Committees to bridge between residents and students are helpful, but are too gentle. Residents want to own their city and not feel they are hostage in it for most of the year. I also believe council, if within their capabilities, needs to have more focus on what businesses come to Keene and where they inhabit. Stronger consideration to the affects over the revenue a new establishment will produce is empairative.
What is an issue in this city people aren’t talking about enough?
Topics of discussion rotate based on trends. We often see a “hot topic” that gets loads of attention and after a short time it fizzles and goes under the radar for a while. Pumpkin fest being a great example. Right now, the heat is on the heroin epidemic. I believe we don’t talk enough about all the issues, all the time. Bullying is out of control in our schools. Hot topic years ago but now little is talked about. Businesses are closing all around the city. We talk about “what will move in there now” but should be discussing “what can we keep in there for years to come?” We can’t be afraid to talk about any issues. We need to be open as residents and feel we have a council seated with motivated, creative listeners and do-ers.
What are the most important qualifications that should be considered in the search for a new city manager? Please be specific.
An effective City manager needs to be open to change. Creative thinking and willingness to evoke change are what our community needs in its leadership. We have the same generation of people we’ve had for decades in most offices and seats. We need to seek someone not afraid to think outside the box, with a passion for this city and determination to bring life back to it. Someone vested in what residents are interested in. Not focused solely on revenue opportunity. Revenue is important, but we need to balance all the various needs of the city rather than lean hefty on one area while neglecting other areas.