Council Actions by Incumbent Compelled Me to Run for Methuen’s West District

By: Ken WilletteAugust, 2015

Former City Councilor and School Committeeman Kenneth Willette now IN the West End Council Race.I have enjoyed living in Methuen for most of my life. As a former City Councilor at Large and School Committee Member, I have been honored to serve the interests of Methuen residents to the best of my ability. Now as the father of two young children attending the Marsh Grammar School, I want to ensure that our tax dollars are spent prudently and effectively. Like so many hardworking families and seniors across this great community, we have to operate on a tight budget yet provide optimal services. As I travel door-to-door, I want to listen to the concerns of West District residents on the issues of taxes, public safety and quality of life.

In fact, one of the main reasons I decided to run for West District Councilor is that I felt the incumbent should not be given a free ride during the fall elections. The incumbent came into office with promise, having voted against his first municipal budget. Unfortunately, he subsequently ended up voting for the tax increases to fund the budget plan he strongly opposed in the first place. With all due respect, we need consistency in our municipal leaders who will not succumb to internal pressure on inflated budgets and tax increases. What I continue to find disturbing is that we have a meals tax, significant revenue from new growth, revenue from a now for-profit Holy Family Hospital, repeated increases in ambulance fees, and a recent round of new assessments on properties — and yet we are still relying upon sizable property tax increases year after year to fund services.

We have to take a very serious look at how our municipal budget is structured, how we are spending money and where additional reforms can be undertaken. We need a Councilor who will scrutinize any new tax and spending requests and stop the floodgates. I have a history of pushing for sound budgeting, limited taxation, less reliance on one-time budget gimmicks and less administrative overhead. We need more structural reforms. Please remember that I wrote the strongest and most effective residency enforcement policy in Methuen Public School history, which has removed at least 105 students and saved taxpayers at least $1.2 million dollars. I have fought for balanced budgets without increasing taxes.

Another issue that I respectfully disagree with the incumbent is his vote on the stadium project. There has not been one validated scientific study that has proven that artificial athletic field turf causes cancer. From the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other states to the United States EPA, many reputable entities have studied this issue thoroughly and have not found any direct relationship.

The Methuen Stadium Project is simply too important to vote against the bond. Like many conservative leaders, I will work to ensure that the city taxpayers will not foot the final bill for upgrades to the stadium. State funding, private fundraising, advertising, applying for grants and sponsorships—these vehicles must be the bulk of funding resources. The bond served as a stopgap measure, but working in partnership to secure other funding must be our first priority moving forward. Haverhill Stadium receives sponsorship from Trinity Ambulance. We can have championship banners sponsored by major and local companies; we should explore all options. But if the vote against the bond prevailed, our female athletes would have been subjected to second-class status; our disabled citizens would have been unable to enjoy watching their favorite teams play; visitors would have faced broken bleachers; and players and coaches would have continued to endure terrible and ancient facilities. The renovated Methuen Stadium Project will serve as a proud capstone in concert with the outstanding renovations recently finished at Methuen High School.