Town council candidates Matt Shildneck and Farhad Ghatan answer five questions from the Journal. Winner of the Nov. 4 election will replace Felix Menjivar on the council.
Council members receive $400 per month plus $50 for each council meeting attended. The five-person council, elected at-large to four-year terms, approves the town’s annual budget, are ex-officio members of town advisory committees, represent the town at official functions and meetings and enact ordinances, which become part of the municipal code.
Town council candidate: Farhad Ghatan
Journal: Why do you want to serve on the town council?
Ghatan: I am excited at the prospect of working with the sophisticated team that makes up our town government. Our brilliant new administrator Duncan Wilson, and trusted town Treasurer Wendy Picinich, along with the community leaders that make up the town council, continue creating cost-savings while providing top notch services for town residents. I would be honored to work with our efficient and thoughtful Mayor Carrie Lacher and the rest of the hard-working staff at the town on the many fine projects proposed for the coming future. My numerous commitments to local non-profits and community organizations are simple reflections of the love and appreciation I have for the town and I look forward to helping preserve this island gem for generations to come.
J: What issues will you emphasize if elected?
Ghatan: My passions are many but economic development, public safety and affordable living are critical to our way of life. I appreciate the many benefits of living off of the mainland “grid” and understand the challenges associated with them. Broadband service is critical to continuing to attract the low impact/high value businesses that will be major economic drivers in the near future. With our new county public safety tax, we now have a dedicated funding source for our many needed street and sidewalk improvements, some of which will also drive economic development. I look forward to working on obtaining grants from the state and local authorities to continue improving our infrastructure with little or no cost to the local user.
J: Can anything be done to lower the high costs of water and sewer services for town residents?
Ghatan: Reducing the costs of water and sewer services to town residents will be a great challenge but one that I am looking forward to exploring. Kudos to the town for the modest $2 a month proposed increase in our water base rate and zero sewer rate increase in the 2014 budget. We have some of the highest water and sewer rates in the State and can expect major repairs and improvements to these systems in the years to come. However, there are many funding sources that can be explored that may make these improvements possible without impacting the consumer’s pocketbook. I hope to be able to offer my business skills to maintaining the highest efficiencies and pass on these cost-savings to the taxpayer.
J: Are there improvements or projects the town would be wise to invest in?
Ghatan: I see many exciting opportunities ahead. Recent partnerships with the county, port and ferries have yielded exciting plans and commitments for future local development in our town. I look forward to helping alleviate heavy traffic in residential areas, providing efficiencies in ferry loading and off-loading, creating a cohesive waterfront for pedestrians and continuing with our street, sidewalk and infrastructure improvements all over town. We can look forward to a bright future if we all work together on these common goals.