“As individuals, communities, and as a city, we all have a stake in, and consciously choose to take action towards, a more sustainable future.”
As part of an ongoing Portsmouth City Council Candidate Q&A in my weekly PortsmouthLOVE Letter, I’ve reached out to all candidates in the 2015 City Council race with some questions. I’m including the answers of all who participated here on my website, in addition to featuring them in my weekly newsletter throughout the month of October, leading up to Election Day, November 3rd. For information on voting, visit the City of Portsmouth, NH’s website.
Josh Denton, City Council Candidate
Neighborhood: Haymarket Square
Occupation: Congressional Liaison for Army Labs / Attorney
Education: UNH, Bachelor’s Degree (History & Political Science), 2003; UNH, Masters of Public Administration, 2009; UNH School of Law; Juris Doctorate, 2012
Relevant Experience: Eagle Scout; United States Army, 2003 – 2007 (Baghdad, 2006-2007); Helped organize ‘Welcome Home’ End of Iraq War Parade, 2012; City Council Candidate, 2013; Sustainable Practices Committee Member, 2013 – present
How do you think our city currently measures on the issue of workforce housing availability?
Portsmouth’s current lack of workforce housing expands past workforce housing to a lack of affordable housing for many Portsmouth residents. Having waited tables after the Army and again after graduating law school while studying for the bar exam, I understand how unaffordable Portsmouth has become. This issue is not just impacting service industry employees and employers, but Portsmouth’s blue collar working class as a whole.
I have been going door to door for the past nine weekends, and the issue of affordable housing is raised everywhere from Maple Haven, to Pannaway Manor, to Oriental Gardens. The recent seemingly random property assessments seems to have impacted every resident. Increased property values are generally a good thing, but the primary purpose of owning property is having a place to live first, and an investment second.
Encouraging affordable housing should be a priority of every City Councilor. I fully support the proposed 350 to 400 square foot micro apartments in a Deer Street Parking Garage liner, but would be comfortable going a step further with incorporating inclusionary zoning into our formed-based zoning. Inclusionary zoning would allow new developments to exceed their height or mass limits if they incorporate a certain percentage of affordable housing.
What’s your favorite thing about the city of Portsmouth?
Our vibrant energy. From 2006 – 2007, the bloodiest year for U.S. forces in Iraq, I served in Baghdad as a combat advisor to an 800 man Iraqi infantry battalion, a mission that even Special Forces are not allowed to conduct today. Some of my teammates’ goals upon returning home were to have a family, buy a house, and have a command. My goals were far simpler, move to Portsmouth and get a dog.
When answering why the Port City, I would recount my favorite memory from UNH; reveling in Halloween with hundreds of children and adults in costume following the Leftist Marching Band dressed as ghouls and ghosts through the streets of downtown Portsmouth. Ever since then, Halloween has been my favorite day of the year, October my favorite month, and Portsmouth my favorite city. Eight years after getting out of the Army and two lovable dogs later, our energy has grown tenfold this time of year since I attended UNH over a decade ago, with the Scarecrows of the Port, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and now Pickwick’s Dead Emporium.
As a City Councilor, I will do everything I can to keep Portsmouth a vibrant cultural hub by voting to support our outdoor activities, programming, and art. Where the incumbent City Councilors lack credibility for initially unanimously banning Prescott Parks Arts Festival school night programming, I support the new repositioned stage and next generation of speakers. This is similar to how as a candidate two years ago, I supported Strawberry Banke’s Puddle Dock Pond Ice Skating Rink as an outdoor family activity that all of Portsmouth could enjoy.
If you had your way, how would our city look in 10 years? In what ways would it differ from present-day Portsmouth?
More vibrant, more affordable, and more sustainable. All politics are local. The environment, climate change, and America’s energy independence are not just big intangible ideas for only state, federal, and foreign governments to address. As individuals, communities, and as a city, we all have a stake in, and consciously choose to take action towards, a more sustainable future.
Portsmouth is both an eco-municipality and a recipient of the Gulf of Maine Council’s 2015 Sustainable Communities Award. City staff are focused on sustainability, but we need City Councilors that are willing to take action on large impact items, like the five initiatives I helped present to the City Council last November as a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainable Practices.
I have been leading a successful public education campaign on these initiatives for over a year. Although the incumbent City Councilors chose to take no action on any of these proposals, the public now has a greater awareness of how we can become more sustainable. To learn more about my efforts on sustainability, click on my Sustainability link at https://dentonforcitycouncil.com/