West End Methuen City Council Candidate George Kazanjian Says Council Argues too much, Will fight to Lower Taxes

George Kazanjian with former Valley Patriot cub reporter Hanna back in 2007 when he was first  a candidate for School Committee
George Kazanjian with former Valley Patriot cub reporter Hanna back in 2007 when he was first a candidate for School Committee

By: Tom Duggan – July 28, 2013
(other Methuen Stories)

Former School Committeeman George Kazanjian says he wants to represent the people of the West End on the city council so he can find waste and needles spending in the city budget. 

Kazanjian spoke with the Valley Patriot the day after his former colleague on the school committee Evan Chaisson dropped out and endorsed the other two candidate in the race. Asked what he thought of Chaisson dropping out and endorsing his rivals, a very laid back Kazanjian said he didn’t blame Chaisson for dropping out of the race.

“The man has to make a living, you know, I don’t blame him at all for dropping out he has to do what’s best for him and his family,” Kazanjian said.

As to Chaisson endorsing Kenneth Willette and Sean Fountain Kazanjian says it doesn’t bother him at all as he is going to run his own campaign and not worry what the other candidates are doing.

“Yeah he endorsed them, that’s fine, everyone has their own opinions on things, I have no problem with that. That’s what made Howard Johnon so famous with his 33 flavors.”

Asked why he was running Kazanjian says that the current city council does nothing but argue and doesn’t’ seem interested in cutting the budget or lowering taxes.

George Kazanjian (2nd from right) with Mayor Zanni (right) and former DPW Director Ray DiFiori (Left)

Asked how he could do that with health care costs, gas, energy and other staples getting more expensive every year he said it’s a matter of being diligent at budget time.

“We have to learn to live within our means, even as a little kid you are taught you can only spend so much, that’s it. We need to go back to the simple times of you can’t spend more than you make. Whatever you make as a salary at home you can’t spend more that.”

“I believe we need to look at every individual line item in that budget. The time to make the cuts in spending is when you are developing the city budget. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been done you have to look at everything. Unfortunately as an outsider I cannot give you specifics on what I would cut.”

“When the city budget is given to the council they get a lot of backup information on what they are spending and what they are voting on. The public doesn’t get that backup, so, you have to analyze that backup as a regular citizen to know what really needs to be cut.”

“I believe they should be giving backup to the public so people know what is really going on. Jack Burke was talking about openness and transparency in government. We need to be attaching the backup on all of the council agenda items to what is given to the public. People need more, the average person doesn’t understand what they are talking about, only the council has the backup. SO If I am elected I think we need to give more to the public and I will fight for that.”

Kazanjian says that being on the school committee has taught him how to work with people he does not always agree with.

“Sometimes you don’t always agree with people, but you have to work with them, and I think Methuen people deserve a councilor that is a consensus builder and a leader, someone who listens with a commitment to fix the problems that we have,. I am a believer that we need to be putting Methuen first. If elected as a councilor, I have no personal agenda and I will work with everyone.”

“My mission is to put Methuen first and get taxes in line so that every year we are not faced with rising taxes. I also want to guarantee to senior citizens that they get the best quality of services and that the level of services they have will continue. We have a good senior program and I want to make sure it improves.”

Kazanjian says that public safety is also a top priority saying Methuen is doing a very good job and he wants to do more.

“I sincerely believe our quality school system has to continue, we have to continue keeping the kids safe and I also believe we have to invest more in the roads, but in order to do all these things, something must give. That is where we go back to looking at the budget backup and going through the budget line by line to see what we can do without. We have to sit down with the department heads before the process begins and find out what they need. They know more than any councilor how their department works. We have a good group of directors and people running the city we ought to be listening to them more. That would be my approach.”

“We need positive solutions. We know that there are issues that need to be addressed, it’s how do we fix those issues that matters. I think we don’t have that now on the council. It’s just a constant argument on that council and I think I if I am elected I will work with people, I have proven I can do that.”

Asked what he thought about the Jamie Atkinson, Tom Mcquillan scandal where Atkinson was getting questions and information texted to him during the questioning of a solicitor candidate, Kazanjian said that the whole process was unproductive for the city.

“I really don’t know much about what went on behind the scenes on that other than they voted to relieve him (Solicitor Mcquillan) and not renew his contract. The whole then got spun into a whole other story. Bottom line is, it (hiring a solicitor) wasn’t done. They went out for a search and it got blurred and on the D’Agostino issue (candidate for solicitor) it got to be a big mess, and they end up hiring a law firm. My firm belief is that we should have a city solicitor, a human being, not a law firm. Hopefully they will go out and do a search. I don’t honestly know where it stand right now, I don’t think anyone does.”

Pressed as to how he would increase funding for seniors, public safety, schools and roads while also cutting taxes Kazanjian says that as an accountants he can find things in the budget that are “hidden” or that others without his education and training would not be able to find.

“How do we do it? How do we make the increases and improvements we need and guarantee continuity for senior services and public safety? That’s the process of analyzing the budget, ripping it apart piece by piece and getting to what is really there. I’m an accountant and I have gone thought the budget process as a school committeeman. I know how to do it. My experience and education is in that area. I understand money and budgets and I can find things that area sometimes buried in budgets. That’s why I think the voters should elect me.”

With Three term West End City Councilor Jeanne Pappalardo unable to run for reelection because of term limits there is only one incumbent (Sean Fountain) and two challengers (Kazanjian and Kenneth Willette) seeking to fill the two West End seats up for grab s in November.


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West End Methuen City Council Candidate George Kazanjian Says Council Argues too much, Will fight to Lower Taxes

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Records: Solicitor emailed questions aimed at candidate McQuillan also contacted reference who pulled his recommendation