Holmes: ‘Do good for anyone’
Published 7:47 pm Saturday, October 1, 2016
In his second run for a City Council seat in as many election cycles, Kerry Holmes is looking for the top spot this time.
Holmes, who ran for the Suffolk Borough seat in 2014, now challenges for the mayor’s seat in a crowded field.
He said he is driven to public service by the desire to improve the community he’s in, a value instilled during his years in the U.S. Navy.
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“It is a place we can do good for anyone,” Holmes said.
Holmes has lived in Suffolk for about 10 years. He has more than 20 years of experience in budget planning and funding, more than half of them while in the Navy. He holds a master’s degree in public administration and has been involved in the community in a variety of roles, including as a member of the North Suffolk Rotary Club and vice president of the Suffolk Crime Line board.
Holmes said he is focusing his campaign on three issues — education, managed growth and transparency in government.
“I have been very careful to try to commit myself to things I think I can accomplish in four years,” he said. “It is not my intention to stay on council for the next 30 years. It is not my intention to go there and create a dynasty.”
Holmes said education is a priority for him, because it affects almost every aspect of life in Suffolk.
“I believe the relationship between School Board and City Council can be improved,” he said, adding he does not believe a joint task force formed by the two bodies has been effective.
He aims to fully fund the schools in an effort to improve them. More families and businesses would come if the school performed better, he said.
“Businesses hesitate to come here, because they want an educated job pool and they want a place their employees can have children,” he said. “Schools become a City Council problem pretty quickly.”
Holmes also hopes to improve the city’s growth plan and get away from what he calls the “empty calories” of residential development.
“I think we need to figure out this urban-suburban-agricultural community of ours,” he said. “How do we get them working together to achieve the goals they each want?”
The city needs to be able to attract more good-paying jobs so citizens can work where they live, he said. Otherwise, too much money is lost to other localities when workers buy lunch and gas and shop or dine after work.
“We’ve got to be able to capture some of that revenue and keep it here in Suffolk,” he said.
Finally, Holmes aims to tackle government transparency, particularly as it relates to a few key areas.
“I do not know why our water bills are this high,” he said, referring to the city’s water rate, which is the highest in the region. “Our leaders should be forced to explain. It retards growth. We’ve got to look at it and figure out what is going on with that.”
Even simple shifts in government transparency could make all the difference, Holmes said. He would want to change the council meeting night — it currently meets on Wednesdays, when many people attend mid-week church services — and encourage open conversation from the podium to the dais during meetings.
“If you’re really looking for people’s opinions, you don’t make the task hard,” he said. “You make it as easy as possible.”