Tri-County Times Candidate Questionnaire (2013)

Tim Jagielo from the Tri-County Times is working on a story about the upcoming Fenton City Council election for the Sunday Oct 24th issue of the paper.  Below are the answers I submitted, including some additional details on how I think we can engage the Fenton community.

Candidate Questions for Tri-County Times article on FCC candidates

Name: David McDermott
Age: 41
Residency, for how long: 7 years
Education: State Univ. of New York, College at Buffalo – B.A. Business with minor in Innovation & Problem Solving
Employment: Director of Global Sales Enablement for Kelly Services
Family: Sara (wife); 3 Children (David – 9, Megan – 8 and Connor – 6)

1. Why are you running?
I’m running for Fenton City Council because I think we can do better.  The biggest opportunity we have to improve the quality of life in Fenton is to build a more engaged community.  Strong neighborhoods, a healthy business climate, and a safe city all start with community engagement.

2. What experience do you bring to the table?
A balanced City Council should represent a cross section of the community they serve.  To be effective, members of City Council need varied backgrounds – public service, private industry, and community organizations.

My experience includes both the business and community sectors, with over 20 years of experience building strong relationships, financially successful organizations, non-profit executive board membership, and a track record of building high performing teams, both paid and volunteer.

I’m active with Fenton community organizations including Fenton Little League (Board, Vice President), Cub Scouts (Committee Chair), Upward Basketball (Coach), St. John’s Applefest (Festival General Chair), and I’m currently appointed to Fenton’s Planning Commission.  I also have extensive non-profit board and leadership experience, including past roles with the United Way of Greater Cleveland, Junior Achievement of Western New York, the Cleveland International Program, and Niagara County Community College.

With each new role, I’ve strived to make an impact.  I plan to drive positive change in our community, empowering residents and businesses to be part of a successful Fenton.

3. What is the biggest challenge the city is facing?
Like many of my neighbors, I’m excited about Fenton’s progress downtown.  A vibrant downtown attracts visitors and strengthens our local economy, but Fenton is at a critical point.  We need to look beyond downtown.  Our roads need attention.  Our water and sewer systems are aging.  Our public safety teams need new equipment.  We need to use the resources we have to promote better neighborhoods and a healthy business community.

As a father to three young children, I’m keenly aware of issues facing the youth of our community – drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and neighborhood safety.  As a City Council, we should lead the community in promoting awareness and giving kids the tools they need to make better decisions.

4. How should those challenges be dealt with?
Economic development and community participation need to be a focus for City Council.  They should be aggressively engaging with regional development organizations, identifying prospects that would compliment our existing business community, and proactively working with our state government to design incentive programs that reward long-term investment in Fenton.  The more successful our community becomes, the more community participation increases, and more community participation results in a safer, better Fenton.

Basically, City Council needs to be better at embracing the role of advocate for our residents and our business community.

5. What changes would you like to see on council?
Our City Council wants you to have a voice, to participate and understand city priorities.  They want the best community possible, just like all of us.  The challenge is that they put the burden on the residents.  The residents have to ask the questions, and sometimes they don’t know where to begin.

I want to change that.  I want City Council to create an ongoing conversation focused on services provided in the city.  Talk to businesses about what it takes to help them grow, talk to residents about what improves their neighborhoods, talk to public safety about what they need to be effective.

City Council should work to ensure that Fenton is a “community”.