At all levels of politics, everybody seeks to claim the mantle of “practical problem-solver”…especially at election time. It is during the times outside of campaign season, however, where the process of leadership – listening, learning, deciding, and then leading – really matters. In 2015, our community is fortunate to have a strong mix of incumbents and newcomers who have demonstrated that ability to lead in a thoughtful, collaborative, and outcome-oriented way (check out the list of candidates elsewhere on this site to get eight great examples). But there may not be a better example of common-sense leadership in Portsmouth today than Brad Lown.
Experience is certainly a part of it. Brad is completing his second term on the City Council this time around, but served for a few terms in the late 90s and early 2000s. He’s also been a member of the School Board – which represents the majority of the city’s entire operating budget, and which the Council must annually approve. Brad served on the Planning Board as well, and understands better than most the importance of land-use policy in virtually all decisions the Council (and community) makes. On preserving Portsmouth’s history, he’s been there, too – a former President of the Portsmouth Historical Society, and a Trustee of the Warner House. The depth and diversity of experience Brad offers to a Council brings sophistication to the debate so critical to making wise decisions.
Despite all of that, though, the greatest value Brad may bring to the Council is in the way he uses his knowledge to impact decision-making. His legal background (he is a partner in a local law firm) and demeanor bring a “matter-of-factness” that is refreshingly candid, transparent, and direct. His ability to use an economy of words to express thoughtful views, and ask insightful questions, are a model of how a Council meeting can flow efficiently without being rushed. And having an attorney on the Council is essential to helping the group effectively do one of its primary activities – debating proposed ordinances – in a professional manner. He does it all with a dry wit and an even keel.
In his announcement that he was seeking re-election this fall, Brad wrote the following:
I’m running for reelection with the hope that I can be one of at least five Councilors who believe in preparing for and accommodating reasonable growth, respecting the rights of private landowners to use and develop their property as long as it is in compliance with the City’s ordinances and who believe in a lean budget that continues to provide basic services and good schools to the taxpayers. I will continue to advocate for sustainable practices in the City, and will advocate for biking and walking…I also hope the Council will have a majority that rejects the politics of fear and anger.
Balancing quality of life, fiscal responsibility, thoughtful growth, a walkable (and bikable) community, and quality schools, public safety, and infrastructure is a central part of the job description for a City Councilor. The way a City Councilor executes that job matters, too. A City Council that rejects the politics of negativity, and uses a balance of experience, common-sense, and collaboration to celebrate the strengths of Portsmouth, and works together to make our community even better – well, that’s what we need going forward, and Brad Lown brings all of those skills and more to work for our community.