Three-term Councilor Fred Keach seeks citywide seat
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Fred Keach is running for his fourth term on the city council with some basic goals: Keep the tax rate low and focus on repaving roads.
Keach, now the councilor for Ward 10, is running citywide this fall for a four-year term. The 51-year-old owns D. McLeod Florist in Concord, and has never faced an opponent in a city council campaign. This year, he is running against five other candidates for one of two at-large council seats.
“My main goal is to try to maintain a level tax rate, and secondly, promote economic development, and I think those two things are tied,” Keach said in an interview with the Monitor’s editorial board. “The more economic development we can accomplish in Concord, the less of a burden the tax rate’s going to be on the average home-owner.”
To encourage economic development, Keach said the city should consider relaxing some building codes so landlords can bring tenants to upper-story downtown buildings.
“I’m not sure the codes need to be quite as strict for commercial spaces as residential,” he said.
Keach would also like the city to continue using tax increment finance districts and other incentives.
In Penacook, he would like to see the city attract manufacturing to a site like the former Rivco property to revitalize the village.
“A good manufacturing job in Penacook would do a lot to stimulate that economy,” he said. “Penacook is Penacook. There’s no magic silver bullet that’s going to fix the problem up there, but I think if there’s some demand by way of jobs, then the market will take care of itself.”
Keach said he would also prioritize repaving neighborhood roads.
“If you ask me what I get the most phone calls over, it’s paved roads,” he said. “. . . The average taxpayer says, ‘All right, we’re paying all this tax money, what do we get for it?’ And roads is a real, tangible thing.”
Maintaining the city’s parks is also important, Keach said. He would like the city to build a new community center at the former Dame School, especially if it is done through public-private partnerships with other organizations, and becomes a space that groups can rent out to bring revenue to the city.
A new downtown library is not a top priority for Keach.
“But I see that really as more of a want than a need right now,” he said.
The upcoming redesign of Concord’s Main Street will transform downtown and attract business, Keach said. He does not think the one construction bid the city received this fall for double its budget was accurate. He said he was “certainly not prepared to spend double the money,” but thinks the city will succeed when it seeks additional bids.
While construction will have an effect on downtown business, Keach stressed most work will be done at night when it begins next year, and it will be suspended during the holiday shopping season.
“There’s going to be impact, I don’t think there’s any way around it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be minimal, and I think in my mind that it’s a small sacrifice that will result in quite a benefit going forward.”
Asked about his vote in favor of a federal grant to purchase an armored BearCat vehicle, Keach said he received many phone calls and emails from constituents about that issue this summer. He disagreed with some residents’ complaint that councilors did not listen to their constituents because they voted to accept the grant after receiving a petition with more than 1,500 signatures opposing it.
“If a group is really organized and really gets out protesters and so forth . . . really they are sometimes a very vocal minority,” Keach said. “Just because they got all those signatures and all those people turned out to yell at us doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the wrong decision.”