Council Candidate Paul Engels

Candidate for Council: Paul Engels, 2-Year Term

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Thursday February 28, 2013

Paul Engels

Education: BA in English, MS in television, radio and film from Syracuse University.
Occupation: Retired
Years as SB resident: 25 years

What skills uniquely qualify you for the position of City Councilor?

I have an ability to bring people together to talk to each other and work with each other for a common cause. People trust me and respect me. People trusted me enough that they felt they could talk to me about the City Manager. I am Chair of the Form Based Code Committee that will rewrite our land development regulations and I represent the Council on the Pension Advisory Committee that is searching for an investment firm to administer and manage our pension plan. I have worked in financial services and I have been an advocate for people with disabilities.

Interim Zoning is at the half-way point. What are its successes and/or failures. What are your post-IZ objectives? 

Interim Zoning has opened up many new possibilities for the city. It has brought together a diverse cross section of citizens for very productive discussions and important research. Shocking information has been generated on the lack of affordable housing, the degradation of our streams and soils, the loss of open space and the obstruction of our views and vistas. We have just purchased 60 acres on Spear Street. We have found a way forward with community based land use regulations that will give citizens the tools they need to control their city’s future development. My post IZ objective is to have a beautiful city of neighborhoods, parks and bike paths where people can live healthy, full lives and where people, commerce and industry can flourish together. City Center will become the number one cultural attraction in Vermont and our city will become the commercial hub of Chittenden County.

South Burlington has a unique relationship with VTANG, Burlington International Airport, and the city of Burlington. What are your views on airport related finances, expansion, noise, and loss of housing.  What role does City Council hold?

It is a very sad thing to drive around the once flourishing neighborhood by the airport and see the no trespassing signs in the windows of the empty homes. We invited Mayor Weinberger, Burlington, Winooski, and Williston City Councilors, and airport and VTANG officials to meet with the City Council. As a result South Burlington is now part of the airport planning effort. We are meeting regularly with city and airport officials to discuss finances, expansion, noise and loss of housing. Our purpose is to come to a mutually beneficial solution so that all of us can survive and thrive. We are quickly resolving past differences. I have toured the VTANG base and was impressed by their professionalism. We whole heartedly support them and want them to remain part of our community. However, our number one priority is our South Burlington residents who live and work near the airport.

The city is at a difficult crossroad on many issues, including management, policy, and process. How will you determine what direction best balances the needs of the community moving forward?

We are going through a transformation where our residents and neighborhoods are taking back our city. The City Council is listening to our citizens and with help from smart urban planners we are giving the community back to its people. It is time to become more than housing developments, strip malls and parking lots. Neighbors and neighborhoods working with developers need to start planning and building a city together in which we can live, work, raise our children and grow old. I will be listening to our citizens to determine our direction. We are putting power back with the people.

What do you feel is the single most pressing concern for the city, and what solutions/actions would you propose? 

We must find a way for our community to heal and reconcile since firing the City Manager. We have turned against each other. It is tragic and heartbreaking. This campaign has been an exclamation point on how polarized and anguished we are. We must begin to have direct and honest conversations with one another. We are neighbors and there is no reason for this level of hostility. We need to address the issue of civility and civic discourse head on as a Council priority. I have already talked to someone who specializes in bringing strife torn communities back together again.

Closing Statement

This has been a hard fought campaign between those of us on the Council who have brought visionary change to South Burlington and those who have reacted against it. Our opponents have spent thousands of dollars on attack ads and negative campaigning. I hope you see through this and realize that you have a City Council that represents you and your interests and not just the interests of the business and development community. We are involving everyone in planning the future of South Burlington, not just the wealthy insiders. Don’t allow your vote to be bought in this Council election.