NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 23, 2013

Herzog favors open waterfront, improving transportation

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — As part of the coverage of the upcoming Nov. 5 general election, The Daily News will provide profiles of residents running for City Council.

Today’s coverage focuses on Ari Herzog, who is running for re-election as an at-large candidate. Nine are running for five at-large seats.

Residents will also elect councilors to represent each of the city’s six wards.

ARI B. HERZOG

Age: 38

Address: 15 Prospect St.

Family: single

Occupation: marketing manager of Uno Chicago Grill in Haverhill; online professor of digital marketing to MBA students at New England College. Herzog said he is networking for a full-time position in community relations.

Education: master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University; bachelor’s degree in sociology from Worcester State University

Reason for running: Herzog says he can answer that question in four words: “I love the job.”

Herzog, who is seeking his third term, added, “We’ve worked together to launch some innovative programs (such as off-leash dog areas) and reduce taxes (such as buying streetlights from National Grid to save about $75,000 a year). The hours are long, but I enjoy every second. I have a lot of ideas to innovate the city and I’d be humbled if the people would re-elect me.”

Herzog, who is known on the council for his skill and interest in new media, said, “Social media is my friend, and I use Facebook and Twitter along with a blog, email and the telephone to be nonstop accessible to residents. People routinely thank me for communicating my thoughts — and for my quick responses to their questions.”

What is your position on the central waterfront?

“We know that construction will occur in coming years on Waterside West (stretching from the Black Cow to the Route 1 bridge) and Waterside East (stretching from Oldies Marketplace to the Coast Guard Station), two areas underutilized today and both predominantly owned by New England Development,” Herzog said.

“We also know that New England Development allegedly wants to build a hotel and parking garage across from Horton’s Yard. Further, we know the Custom House Maritime Museum wants to expand into their rear lawn,” he added.

“With various stages of development for these areas, the majority of people I’ve met on the campaign trail do not want to build on NRA land. I agree with them. I support an open central waterfront.”

What can be done to improve the schools?

Herzog said, “The City Council’s Joint Education Committee is ordained to ‘be concerned with the activities and policies of the School Committee and act as liaison between the School Committee and the City Council on issues of education and school finances.’ Yet, when the council recently was tasked with approving Community Preservation Act action involving high school exterior masonry, neither the Budget and Finance committee nor other councilors present were aware of the issues.

“The Joint Ed committee should meet regularly with the School Committee, perhaps for 15 or 30 minutes before School Committee meetings on a monthly basis,” he said. “This will strengthen ties between the two boards and empower us with foresight to better work with the budget and to adequately suggest improvement mechanisms to the mayor.”

What would be a special interest for you if you are a city councilor?

“Transportation will be a priority. We need to investigate launching a citywide shuttle service, because taking an MVRTA intercity bus from downtown to Port Plaza is inefficient. Let’s partner with bike shops to install bicycle rental stations throughout the city (similar to Boston and Cambridge). Would Zipcar come here? Many residents agree with me that constructing an electric trolley would be awesome.

“In the short term, and for small money, we need to create a brochure that includes transit options, access points, phone numbers and websites, rates and carbon footprints. In the longer term, we need to set into motion a seamless transit grid to make it a cinch to connect people from the train station to downtown and the beach with minimal city resources. I will work to raise funds to hire an economic development director to, among other things, fix our transportation obstacles.”