Holmes challenges

Published 9:56 pm Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kerry Holmes says he decided to run for City Council because he sees challenges the city has for which he has expertise to match.

A former U.S. Navy officer who now works for a defense contractor, Holmes says he is particularly concerned about the city’s “disconnect” with the School Board, as well as its debt level and economic development practice.

Holmes said he thinks the city’s population wants to see more leadership out of its leaders.

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“I would like to at least put some decisive leadership behind education, and some good leadership behind economic development,” Holmes said.

On the education front, Holmes said he believes City Council and School Board need to meet more regularly and attend each others’ meetings more.

“It would be helpful to have City Council members at School Board meetings,” Holmes said. “At least that way you know what makes their heads hurt.”

Holmes said there’s “certain personalities that just can’t deal with each other,” and the schools are suffering for it.

He said he’s also concerned about pay compression in the ranks of teachers, as well as among firefighters and police officers.

Education is integrally connected with economic development, Holmes said, and lack of investment in schools is a “recipe for disaster.”

If the schools don’t perform well, he noted, businesses won’t come here, the tax burden becomes higher for the businesses and families that are here, and eventually even they will leave.

“We have to work at it, and work at it publicly,” he said.

In economic development, Holmes said he would prefer to see the city grow the companies that are already here rather than devote its efforts to bringing in new ones.

“My theory on economic development is slightly different from the practice of economic development in the city of Suffolk,” he said. “I’m not looking for the government to do entrepreneur’s jobs, but if you don’t see business development as important to the Suffolk Borough, you’re missing out.”

Holmes also said he is concerned the city’s new AAA bond rating will be used as an excuse to go into more debt.

“If you’re already touting what one of three agencies is saying, you’re building anticipation that you’re going to really rely on it,” he said. “Maybe taking on another credit card is not wise.”