Prioritizing the future
The Nov. 5 election came and went with little fanfare – three uncontested city council candidates rode to easy victories, while Brook Boehmler outpaced Diane Weldin for the mayor's seat by a comfortable margin. As the dust settles and we transition into a new period of local politics, it's important Hampton's residents and new council refocus their attention on the many issues facing the city in the months and years to come.
Numerous talking points were brought up during the campaign. Nuisance properties, an increasingly diverse population and city finances were all highlighted on the long list. However, Hampton's aging infrastructure seemed to be a reoccurring theme when candidates explained the issues that will greet the community in 2014 and beyond. Many streets are cracked and crumbling, Highway 3's traffic light is in perpetual disrepair and various other improvements are needed elsewhere. The candidates' concerns over these problems were warranted, and community sentiment seems to be in favor of focusing attention and resources on these issues.
The repercussions of doing nothing are obvious. Our streets are already in poor condition and they will continue to deteriorate if we don't dedicate more attention on them. Roads and other infrastructure are some of the most important assets to a community, and they allow for better commerce and improved residential well being. Most all of the candidates shed light on the need to draw more people and businesses to Hampton during the election campaign. Improving our infrastructure no doubt plays into that because it creates a better environment for residents and commerce to flourish. It's an investment for the future, and it's one that should be taken seriously if the community wants to grow in the coming years.
Improving our local infrastructure isn't a simple task by any means. After all, money doesn't grow on trees, and these things typically come with a hefty price tag. Hampton's residents must understand that any improvements will take quite some time to realize, because street repairs and other replacements can't happen overnight. The council must budget money, secure financing and evaluate the tax base for these large projects, all of which take large amounts of time an planning. Prioritizing the most important fixes is key, and citizen input is needed if the city chooses to pick up this large improvement project in the near future.
Sometimes we take our local government for granted. It's often a thankless job, and our elected officials take a lot of unwarranted heat for certain things sometimes. Those that chose to run and participate in the civic process should be commended for their efforts. They are the stewards of our community, and it's important they ramp up efforts to improve certain outdated areas of Hampton. It's a great place to live, but portions of the local infrastructure have started to show some wear and tear in recent years. Our newly-elected officials have the perfect opportunity to improve on these areas and set up future renovations as well. Now is as good of time as any, and it'd be great to see the council take these projects and run with them in 2014.