These are the responses from Tom Bracciano, city commission candidate, to the Journal-World's candidate survey.
1. Name : Tom Bracciano
2. Occupation: Division Director of Operations and Facility Planning, Lawrence Public Schools
3. Date of Birth: 7/17/59
4. Years in Lawrence: 38 years
5. Family: Married 17 yrs, 2 children
6. Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic
7. Previous Political Experience: None
8. In July, a ban on smoking in most indoor public places was implemented by the city. Do you support the ban, and why or why not? I support the ban. I don't think one can deny that second hand smoke is harmful. I am disappointed that federal and state agencies have not stepped forward from a regulatory standpoint. Instead, leaving the issue to cities. The lack of state or federal regulation has created a situation where there can be a negative effect on local businesses if a nearby community does not have a smoking ban. I think this would have been less divisive of an issue if there had been a referendum.
9. What's your opinion on how the city has managed and planned for growth during the past five years? I believe the city has been in a reactive mode to city growth during the past five years. This is not necessarily the fault of the planning staff or planning commission. The fact that planning philosophy can change with a new commission is contrary to what is desired in a long range planning document. My goal is to develop a long range planning process that will be consistent yet flexible enough to be truly long range. This will involve a "buy in" from the commission, staff and public.
10. The city has begun a study to determine the fiscal impacts of growth on the city's taxpayers. Do you believe that residential growth pays for itself or costs existing taxpayers additional dollars? If you believe it does not pay for itself, how would you address that issue? I believe growth is beneficial to the community as a whole. A community that is growing does have to provide additional services but it also realizes an increase in the tax revenues. School funding is based on a per pupil amount. If a city is not growing there are no new pupils (revenues) coming into the school district. Without new revenues school budgets are cut, buildings are closed neighborhoods suffer, etc.
11. City officials have begun using roundabouts and traffic circles as traffic calming control devices on some Lawrence streets. Do you believe the devices are effective and a good use of city funds? I was on the city's traffic safety commission when the city began discussing the use of roundabouts so I am very familiar with the traffic engineering philosophy behind them. I believe roundabouts are an effective traffic calming device for some existing situations. I don't believe they are necessary for future neighborhoods if they are planned and developed correctly. I have concerns regarding pedestrian use of a roundabout at 19th and Louisiana during peak traffic volumes. I believe there will be insufficient gaps for pedestrians to cross leading to a dangerous situation. I do not like traffic circles as they allow for left turns increasing the risk of head on collisions.
12. City commissioners have authorized officials with the Lawrence Public Library to explore the possible construction of a new multimillion dollar library in downtown, or the expansion of the current facility at 707Vt. Do you support moving forward with the project? Yes. The current library was built when I was a child growing up here in Lawrence. It has been too small for many, many years. Access and parking are problems that need to be addressed through an expansion or new construction.
13. The city's task force on homeless services is currently drafting a report for a community wide strategy of providing services to the homeless. What's your philosophy on whether or how the city should provide services to the homeless? I believe there should be services provided to all of the less fortunate. I also subscribe to the philosophy of "a hand up not just a hand out". Homeless service must be tied to connecting the homeless with agencies that can help them find a permanent place to live and get the help they need to get off and stay off the streets.
14. Specifically on the homeless, do you support an idea that has been introduced by a task force of Downtown Lawrence Inc. that would require homeless individuals to show a city issued I.D./service card before receiving certain services, such as food and shelter? I believe there needs to be a way to make sure that people who are on the streets are getting the services they need to be getting to help them get off the streets. Be that mental health help, job training or assistance, etc. An I.D. card is one way. I am interested in seeing what the report recommends or if there are alternatives to an I.D. system.
15. Do you believe Lawrence has an affordable housing problem, and if so, how would you address it? Lawrence has an affordable housing problem. We must stabilize our existing housing stock in the older neighborhoods and try to prevent so much of it from becoming rental property. I will work to develop a plan to encourage young families to move into and revitalize areas of our community that are "graying out" and turning into rental areas. This should be done with private investment and must not involve the destruction of the existing neighborhood character.
16. Please comment on your fiscal philosophy and whether you would envision the need to raise taxes during your term on the city commission. For the past 4 years I have had to cut the budget of my department at Lawrence Public Schools because of a declining overall district budget. During these 4 years my department has saved over 1 million dollars from staff reductions and from efficiencies in the way we do business. In addition, we implemented an energy management program which saved over $300,000 the first year. I'd say my fiscal philosophy is conservative. I don't envision a need to raise taxes my first term.
17. The city currently offers a fixed route public transportation system. Do you believe the system, the T, has been successful and is an effective use of city funds?. I support continued funding for the T. The T must merge with KU on Wheels to generate the kind of revenue and ridership it is capable of. I have spoken to the city manager and the Chancellor regarding this issue and will pursue discussions with the KU student senate if elected.
18. The city currently operates a municipal golf course, Eagle Bend, which has been operating at a loss during the last several years. Do you believe the golf course is an effective use of city funds? As a member of the city's parks and rec. advisory board, I know that city recreation projects do not typically pay for themselves. This is true of the indoor aquatic center, Holcomb sports complex, etc. The commission must decide if they want to subsidize recreation activities for the public. I believe they should and that includes Eagle Bend. There may come a time when the subsidy becomes too great to justify it but that time is not here yet.
19. The city currently is involved in litigation to stop Walmart from building a new store at the corner of Sixth street and Wakarusa Drive. Do you believe that corner is appropriate for a big box retail development such as Walmart has proposed? No. When the current site for LFSHS was chosen 10 odd years ago, the planning for that area should have been changed to reflect that. The existing litigation is a result of that.
20. The city currently has a ban that prohibits the use of most fireworks within the city limits during the Fourth of July holiday. Do you support the fireworks ban? I have been a member of the city's fire code review board for 6 years and am aware of the LFD's concerns regarding fireworks. I have no intention of overturning the current ban.
21. What's your position on whether and where the South Lawrence Trafficway project should be completed? I am aware of a plan that would facilitate the east to west and west to east movement of traffic in south Lawrence without building the trafficway through the wetlands. It will involve bringing people back to the table and a new mindset. I will pursue this option.
22. If elected, what would be the top three issues you would seek to address during your term? Planning, job creation and a joint city/school district/university multi-sport competition athletic facility.