What follows is Bruce Gibson’s formal statement to the town on 4/13/2010 concerning the open Selectman’s position:
Last winter I made reservation in Florida, so I’m sorry not to be here with you today. So I’ve asked my friend Leo to read this statement to you all. My name is Bruce Gibson, and I approved this message!
Vote smart, vote Gibson!
The most common question I’m getting concerning the Selectman position is, “Bruce, why are you running again?” As most of you know, I was a Harwich Selectman from 2001 – 2004 and I felt that I performed my public service. However, times have changed; budgets on every level, federal, state, and local have changed; and I feel that I can contribute once again.
Back in my first stint as Selectman, I spent two months designing a new town budget, which would have reduced the override by $2 million, compared to the other four Selectmens’ override budget of $3.2 million. Unfortunately, neither budget passed, and the result was the loss of 51 jobs in the town of Harwich. Had my budget passed, it would have resulted in only 17 jobs lost. Suffice it to say that my understanding of finance and the mechanics of town budgeting are extensive.
Also, I was the first, back in 2002/2003, to bring the Downey family forward to the town in the hopes of purchasing the property beside Saquatucket Harbor. To this day, I still envision the town using that property for a park, a visitors’ center, a marine educational center, or some other venue for civic use and cash generation.
Another area that I believe will further enrich the Harwich experience as well as add to the public coffers, is an extension of or building upon the bike trail. Proposed new spurs off the main trails include Parallel Street, South Street, Gilbert Lane, Lothrop Avenue, North Road, and Bell’s Neck, all of which would channel visitors into the heart of the Harwichport retail community.
Another of my ideas that I would like to revive is Harwich Civic Spirit Day. This has been, and will be, a fantastic opportunity for citizens, commissions, councils, boards, public service departments all to gather under one roof and explore past, present, and especially future opportunities for growth, employment, volunteerism, and potential revenue generation.
A new opportunity is becoming available for Harwich–that of wind power, particularly the Headwaters project. Yes, I’ve heard the concerns about “neurological heath effects of wind turbines”, and “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, and “wind energy noise impacts”. I’ve done my homework… But the simple fact is the energy demands for this country, this state, this town are becoming more and more strained, and it behooves us to do anything we responsibly can do to mitigate the problem. The recent mine tragedy in West VA painfully underscores the magnitude of this problem.
Onward… Why haven’t we established some sort of town harbor-hopping ferry system? I envision a small service, perhaps based in the proposed Saquatucket visitors’ center, that would offer folks a chance to easily jump between centers of commerce in Chatham, Harwich, Dennis, and Yarmouth, while also offering a scenic view of the Cape. This could also, possibly be expanded into more tourist-heavy activities, such as beach ferries, seal watches, and migratory and general bird watching.
Harwich High School has been repeatedly ranked as one of best schools in the state. We should be promoting this fact and encouraging people from other towns to school their children in Harwich. This will reduce the amount of money Harwich has to give to other area school systems and at the same time, provide a higher-quality education for the youth of Cape Cod.
One area that I find particularly compelling is that of the Obama stimulus plan. I would vigorously explore those opportunities from all angles.
On a similar note, I’ve looked at the town’s retirement package, and want to explore the possibility of having that plan shifted to an existing federal retirement package, as is being done in other towns and cities.
Way back when, I was on the golf committee and I had Cranberry Valley’s driving range upgraded and expanded. That certainly brought in more income to the town through greater traffic to the golf course itself, as well as to the surrounding merchants. What I would like to do in the future is install night lighting on the driving range to further the operational hours as well as to enrich the enjoyment of the players themselves.
In closing, you’ll note that these talking points have focused upon cost-cutting measures and generating cash influx. Here’s the simple fact that no-one’s going to tell you, folks: According to the experts at the Tues., March 30th Selectman’s Meeting, somewhere between 70% – 78% of our town budget is employee based. We also know that last year, the insurance cost to the town went up 18% from a projected 3% increase… Do you see a pattern here?
I’m about to say something that virtually no political candidate has the guts to say – “Your taxes are going up.” They have to… We simply cannot maintain our current level of community living standard and at the same time hold the taxes at their current rate. However, I have just suggested a few steps that we can take that will help keep the wolf away from our door. Just those two Headwaters wind turbines should save the town an estimated annual $700,000 – $800,000 with no liability.
In closing, I would simply say: vote smart, vote Gibson.
* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.