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Timothy Willis looks to ‘jump in’ to Concord City Council

Timothy Willis, city council candidate. Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce hosted a city candidate forum on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at the Grappone Conference Center.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Timothy Willis, city council candidate. Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce hosted a city candidate forum on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at the Grappone Conference Center.

(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Timothy Willis has no political experience, but says that is exactly why he wants to be a city councilor.

Willis, 48, said he was dissatisfied with some actions by the current council, so he decided to launch his own campaign.

“It’s not any one reason, it’s just several things kind of kept piling up until I decided, ‘Okay I better jump in here,’ ” he said in an interview with the Monitor’s editorial board.

Earlier this year, Willis submitted a petition to the city council asking for a four-way stop sign and other safety improvements near his home at the intersection of Thorndike and South State streets. After collecting signatures and submitting the petition, he received a letter from the city informing him that the traffic operations committee had found the stop signs unnecessary at that time. This summer, he was also disappointed by the city council’s vote to accept a federal grant for a BearCat.

“Not so much that the BearCat issue itself prompted me to do this, but it kind of follows a pattern in my opinion,” he said. “It’s that they didn’t seem too overly concerned with the citizen demand for or against that.”

Willis said he would do a better job than the current councilors of listening to constituents.

“I want to create a network where I’m getting emails, phone calls, letters from citizens,” he said. “What do you want, what do you want to address, show me what you want support of.”

He wants to return to “core values” when considering city projects. If enough money is available, he said he would first address safety and infrastructure improvements.

To help Concord’s homeless population, Willis said he would like to consider a “work for services program” that would allow unemployed residents to assist in maintenance or work alongside city employees in exchange for clothes or food.

“While that doesn’t solve the homeless problem, that’s one of the many things that can be done,” he said.

Willis said he was skeptical of the upcoming redesign of Main Street and its ability to bring business downtown. He said he hoped the project would be successful, but he was not sure that putting “a fresh coat of paint” on Main Street will make a difference.

“It would work temporarily, the whole novelty of it,” he said. “. . . Let’s put a carnival ride up a the mall, wow it’s going to draw people in and then when people go shopping. After a while it’s going to be, okay, what really gets people shopping?”

On plans to reduce Loudon Road from four lanes to two lanes with a center turning lane, Willis said he would like to gather more information from business owners before making a decision.

“When you go from two lanes down to one, you’re going to have people fighting, ‘I’ve got to get there first,’ and that could be a potential problem,” he said.

Willis said he would potentially support a new community center on the Heights, “as long as they make good use of the dollars” and make sure that construction at the former Dame School is a community need.

“I’d have to learn more about that,” he said.

He also would have liked to see the Sewalls Falls Bridge project move more quickly than it has. Designs to replace the deteriorating bridge over the Merrimack River were delayed while the city sought approvals from the state and federal governments this year.

“This has been going on for years, though, years and years, and why wasn’t this done sooner and why is it
really being concentrated on now?” he said.

Willis said he sees “a downward trend” in the ability of councilors to listen to their constituents and address important projects, and he would like to offer a new perspective.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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Meet the at-large city council candidates

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Five candidates are campaigning for two at-large city council seats this fall. They are: Samantha Clattenburg; Timothy Willis; Scott Welch; current Ward 10 Councilor Fred Keach; and current Ward 4 Councilor Amanda Grady Sexton. A sixth candidate, Josh VanBuskirk said he was not campaigning and learned it was too late to remove his name from the ballot. Two of the …

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