Name: Jay V. Kahn
Address: 135 Darling Rd., Ward 3
Family: Wife, Cheryl; son, David Kahn; daughter and son-in-law, Denise and Mike Terra; and grandsons Joshua and Andrew Terra.
Education: Ph.D. University of Illinois, Chicago, Political Science, Public Policy Analysis; M.A. University of Illinois, Springfield; B.A. Northern Illinois University;
Occupation: Vice President for Finance and Planning, Keene State College
Organizations to which you belong/have belonged: Previously Cheshire Medical Center Board of Directors and Chairman, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Chairman; Monadnock Economic Development Corporation Board and Chairman, Society for College and University Planning Board of Directors. Currently, New England Association of School and Colleges-Commission on Higher Education, NH Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Board
Previous elected office: Crete, Illinois Library Board of Trustees
How long have you lived in Keene? 27 years
Why are you running for City Council?
27 years ago I was recruited to Keene State College. I will retire this year and I have chosen to continue to live and contribute to Keene. I have led the College, and led the Medical Center, Chamber of Commerce and Monadnock Economic Development Corporation boards. Keene is a great community because it has a diverse economic base and it leverages the assets of government, business, education, health and non-profits to create value for citizens. I believe my managerial, financial, planning and governance experience can help the Council and the new City Manager continue to make best use of existing resources and hold down costs for tax payers.
What role do Keene City Councilors have in addressing the heroin/opioid crisis gripping our community? Please be specific.
Leverage resources. Assure efficient integration of drug prevention, treatment and recovery resources. Rails to Trails provide a model. The City’s role has been to lay out a plan that efficiently integrates federal, state, private and philanthropic resources. There are many talented people and committed organizations locally that can prepare a plan for the City to help implement.
Are Keene's taxes too high? Where could spending be cut? Where is the city not spending enough?
Property taxes in Keene are too high. My role as a first term Councilor will be to question the status quo. Processes and ordinances seem complicated and they drown petitioners and the Council in minutia wasting time and resources. Staff should be empowered to make decisions; exceptions, challenges and new initiatives should come to the Council.
Growing the tax base creates the means for sustaining services and lowering taxes. More time needs to be spent on strategies for growing the tax base.
What is a key challenge affecting the people of Keene and what would you do about it?
Community Vitality. It begins with attracting, training and retaining a workforce. What does it take to attract and retain young workers – quality and accessible childcare, affordable housing, good schools, good paying jobs that reduce income stress. There are three colleges in the City capable of supplying a vital workforce. Linking their students to the vitality of the city benefits their experience and the quality of services. Our jobs need to pay enough to attract them and the services the community provides need to be high quality to retain them.
We need to support local business start-ups, through incubators that share office services, and utilize the 5,000 student interns at area colleges. We need to make use of empty spaces— as locations for business incubators, creative arts exhibition and youth programs. We need to vitalize downtown with small festivals that involve the creative arts, downtown businesses and non-profits in the region.
The high costs of home ownership are a problem for retaining people who have contributed many years to the vitality of the City. Attracting businesses and retaining college graduates in the community can increase the tax base and lower taxes. And library services, cultural enrichment, continuing education, and mentoring and volunteer opportunities can keep these citizens active in our community. This is leveraging the talent and experience in the region while reducing costs.
Year round recreation opportunities are also vital to the City. Rail-trails, pedestrian walkways, parks, indoor recreation, and film, music and art festivals are important features to keeping our community active and healthy.
With careful investment and creative financing Keene should aim to be a model city for New England.
What is an issue in this city people aren't talking about enough?
The City Council should set annual goals. Keene’s Comprehensive Master Plan was written in 2008 and has more goal statements than can be acted upon annually. Each year the Council should articulate a few goals that are meaningful, moveable and measurable. And before setting next year’s goals there should be an assessment of success.
What are the most important qualifications that should be considered in the search for a new city manager? Please be specific.
The new city manager should be ethical, visionary, financially expert, outcomes oriented, a good listener, a team leader, recruiter of talented people, outgoing and experienced in a city with a residential college. Keene has found skilled administrators. I’ve worked with three. Pat McQueen taught me how leveraging resources is a unique New England skill as old as bartering. MacLean taught me how knowing the outcome you want drives the options and solution. And Jim Hobart, who I knew during his PSU years, taught me to look both ways; your first solution may not be the best. They all demonstrated high ethical values and conservative fiscal expectations and got things done. They were each successful for many years and knowing the characteristics that made them successful will help me guide the new City Manager.