Concord City Council Ward 7: Long-term incumbent Nyhan challenged by Schlosser on homelessness

Concord City Hall

Concord City Hall

City Councilor Keith Nyhan from Ward 7.

City Councilor Keith Nyhan from Ward 7. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

 Jim Schlosser challenging Keith Nyhan for his Ward 7 seat.

Jim Schlosser challenging Keith Nyhan for his Ward 7 seat. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff


Monitor staff

Published: 10-31-2023 6:05 PM

Earlier this fall, residents wrote to City Councilor Keith Nyhan after a homeless encampment was established in the woods near Martin Field in the South End.

Fearing for the safety of children in the neighborhood, they called on Nyhan, who represents Ward 7, and other city council members to act swiftly to clean up the site.

Nyhan made a promise to residents that he would not tolerate encampments in residential neighborhoods, and it’s one he intends to keep if elected to a 10th term on Concord City Council, he said.

Jim Schlosser, who is challenging Nyhan for his seat, said eliminating an encampment from one neighborhood, only for it to relocate somewhere else in the city isn’t fixing anything.

“Homelessness is solvable, we’ve learned that from communities across the country,” he said. “We need to set a goal for functional zero homelessness, it’s not that homelessness never occurs, but that it’s rare and brief.”

Solving homelessness requires the city to take action to address the issue, Schlosser said. Concord has a 10-year plan to address homelessness that was adopted in 2012.

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It’s time for city leaders to focus on systemic changes – like providing a variety of housing options – to alleviate the problem, said Schlosser, who serves on the board of the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness.

“Let’s get that done. Let’s not wait another 10 years to solve homelessness,” he said.

The city’s current approach was established under the long-term leadership of Mayor Jim Bouley, who is stepping down after 16 years.

Nyhan said the city needs continued representation from its elected officials, who are able to serve through this transition of leadership. With almost two decades of experience on the council, and as a fourth-generation resident of the South End, Nyhan would provide that to residents, he said.

“My history and roots are in Ward 7. My family and friends still live there,” he said. “I can bring some consistency and uniformity to policy and continue the work that has been done.”

His time on the council has been marked by serving as a fiscal watchdog, he said.

“The only special interest I have is the taxpayer. It’s incumbent upon all of us to keep taxes down,” he said. “I have many years of scrutinizing budget lines.”

To keep costs down for Concord residents, the city needs to focus on growing the tax base, said Nyhan.

However, sometimes the city needs to spend money to see a return on its investment, like renovating the Beaver Meadow Golf Course clubhouse into a space that generates revenue through recreation and events.

Schlosser agrees – that if upgraded, the clubhouse could be a source of revenue for the city from resident use as well as tourism.

But when considering all city decisions, resident input needs to be at the forefront of conversation, said Schlosser. That comes from increased communication with taxpayers – specifically making the website more accessible and taking more time to speak with and listen to residents about what is going on in Concord.

That information is already available, Nyhan said. With the city following state law on public information and transparency, meeting minutes are found online as well as in the library, or through the help of the city clerk’s office, he added.

Nyhan said he will continue to communicate with residents if elected to another term, he said.

“I’m an 18-year veteran of the council and this particular election isn’t just about wanting to help,” said Nyhan. “Really for me what this next election is about is a little bit of continuity.”

Both candidates participated in a City Council forum hosted by the Monitor last week, which can be watched online