With the special election for the vacant Town Council seat on the horizon, the Mirror asked candidate Cela Burge a few questions about our town.
1. Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that? What is your opinion of the Main Street (Community Enhancement) initiative?
I really don’t have any quantitative data to assess that. It is true that many new businesses have opened, and that is a great thing; however, to be a healthy and successful “Main Street”, we will have to review and consider the tenure of our businesses and their economic viability. Certainly, our “main street community’s” synergy, along with the existing businesses that have served as the backbone, are attracting people to Cape Charles and from that measurement, our Town is seeing success and is definitely on the upswing. I am a long – term supporter of the Main Street Approach to re-development, so I am optimistic about our Main Street initiative.
2. What’s more important for our town right now: building new homes and commercial space or rehabbing/expanding/better utilizing our existing homes and storefronts?
Both are important, but for different reasons that I believe are significant to our Town’s present and future. New construction provides jobs for local tradespeople and provides options for folks preferring new construction to rehabbed spaces. Obviously, from my family’s perspective, we are strong supporters of historic preservation, so I value our historic resources and believe that our historic district is a unique attribute to our Town’s “brand” (how we are perceived). We have an authentic historic district that is important to protect and rehab/repurpose sensitively.
3. Thoughts on Rt 13 Food Lion Intersection.
I haven’t had the opportunity to fully evaluate the options under consideration. However, I certainly recognize the need for careful re-planning for this well-used intersection.
4. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?
Interesting question…I need to think about that. Many of the biggest concerns facing the Town, in my opinion, are not limited to zoning, such as secondary street parking and public parking. We do need to make it easier to develop workforce housing options in all zoning districts, and this is being worked on presently.
5. How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town?
Residents, citizens, and property owners are welcome to contact me at any time, of course. (email@example.com) I have already expressed my view that public hearings for the planning commission and the town council should be held separately to maximize the opportunities for public input. (August 16, 2018 meeting) Fundamentally, though, I believe that citizens elect town councilpeople to manage the Town’s affairs by setting policy and being responsive to the issues brought forward. That selection is the first and one of the most important decisions a resident makes to be involved in the “decision making” process of the Town.
9. If you received a $1 million grant to use for the town any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
We have many needs in the Town, and $1 million wouldn’t go as far as we may think. First, I would review all the current capital projects in our current Capital Improvement Program. I’d like to see our infrastructure (water, sewer, streets, storm drainage, beach/harbor maintenance, and breakwaters) built out and in A-1 shape. Infrastructure is the building block for the long – term development of the Town. Reliable, affordable, properly maintained infrastructure enables us to attract and keep residents and businesses. I would do my best to try and spread the $1million toward the most effective use of infrastructure improvement.
10. What is your favorite thing about living in Cape Charles?
My favorite thing about living here for 20 years is the sense of place Cape Charles has – it is beautiful, authentic, easily accessible, and filled with interesting people!
11. Use this for any statement if you wish.Cape Charles is a terrific place, and John and I are blessed to have lived here for twenty years. During that time, I have served in a number of organizations in the Town, as well as in the Town government itself as a former Town Manager, Planning Commission member, and now as a Town Council member. Also, I have established my career as an attorney with special emphasis on local government law.
While serving in the past and present may show my continuing commitment to civic, artistic, religious, and educational organizations, I am running for Town Council:
1. To be part of the Cape Charles of the future;
2. To help our governing body analyze and prepare a plan for the future and to develop priorities to help the Council now and in the future allocate our resources responsibly; and
3. To be part of promoting civility in government, to encourage civic education, and to foster healthy debate that respects varying opinions but, with good faith compromise, moves the Town forward after a decision is made.
Finally, I encourage all citizens to contact me with specific questions and concerns. I pledge to be prepared for my Town Council deliberations, to work hard in the best interests of the Town’s citizens, and to use my experience and qualifications to help guide our Council’s decisions.
I ask for YOUR VOTE on November 6, 2018!