WORCESTER – Stephen Quist does not view the elected office as the start of another phase in his life or career.
The District 5 city council candidate has an ‘come in, do the job, get out’ approach and said if he is elected to the seat vacated by Matthew Wally, he will not stay longer than he should.
What the lifelong Worcester resident hopes to do is go through a short list of measures aimed primarily at taxpayer relief without adding to the resentment of the annual tax rate debate.
“I’m running on four things,” Quist said in a recent interview. “If people don’t want to be fed up with me, then skip my four things and I’ll be gone in one term.”
Quist said he was focusing his campaign on finding innovative ways to give residents tax relief. He filed three petitions with city council earlier this year, asking council to push for domestic regime petitions to impose a surcharge on car rentals that would go into a tax relief fund; obtain state payments for state-owned land which takes into account buildings on the land in addition to the land itself; and a one cent sales tax that remains in town.
He said he estimated the measures could provide at least $ 22 million in tax relief for homeowners. He said it could ease some of the pressure from the annual debate on narrowing or widening the gap between residential and commercial tax rates under the city’s dual-rate system.
Quist said that even though council tends to lean toward the lowest residential tax rate, taxes still find a way to increase for homeowners. He said he’s talking to retirees in the neighborhood who are wondering how they’re going to stay in their homes.
“I offer a solution,” Quist said. “I offer an ability to turn around and close that gap.”
He said he wanted to see a greater focus on reducing waste and improving the condition of the city’s streets and sidewalks. The city is expected to hold a bond on utility projects that allows them to repair streets that are not repaired to city standards after underground work is completed. And he said he wanted to create a network of “garbage patrols” that take advantage of organizations focused on community service and schedule more regular and organized neighborhood cleanups.
Quist said he has lived in District 5 for over 30 years. Walking around Jesse Burkett’s grounds one recent afternoon, Quist said his entry into volunteering and service to the city came largely through the city’s sports leagues. He served on the cable advisory committee.
The grandson of Irish immigrants, Quist is the father of four grown children and one grandchild. He lives in a three story apartment and boasts, probably accurately, of being the only contestant with a 160-pound dog – a very friendly but huge Great Dane named Jackson. He is the director of facilities and operations management for NFS Leasing, which is owned by Cliff Rucker, who owns several properties in the city, as well as the Worcester Railers ice hockey team.
Quist said if he were on the board he would fully support the completion of the Doherty Memorial High School project. The latest high school replacement project is underway, but a lawsuit is challenging the school’s original claim to the land, which is in the Newton Hill section of Elm Park.
Quist said using the land on the same footprint is legitimate, and he said the students, teachers and staff at Doherty deserve a first-class facility. The new school will lead people into the city, he said.
Quist said that as an adviser he would also focus on public safety. He said he would push for more fire department personnel and said that wherever he spoke to people they wanted to adequately fund – not reimburse – the police. He said he doesn’t think the police department is budgeted for full strength, and with major projects, including Polar Park, expected to attract thousands of people, the city will need staff. He said he believes the city’s police training and continuing education strategies serve as a national model.
He said he also supported the ministry adoption of ShotSpotter technology, both for its gunshot detection system and newer technology that will use criminal data to create automated patrols. The city’s adoption of ShotSpotter Connect technology came earlier this year after heated debate over its merits and implications. But Quist said it was just an evolution of the department’s long-standing commitment to a data-driven approach.
An issue that Quist said he’s monitoring Amazon’s fulfillment center under construction on Goddard Memorial Walk. It made less waves in the city than the online retailer’s plan to open a similar facility at the site of the Greendale Shopping Center, but Quist said it could still have negative impacts on the neighborhood. It’s unclear how the opening of the center will impact traffic on either side of the hill, in Webster Square or Tatnuck Square. And Quist said he wanted it to be a union operation.
“What kind of workforce is it going to be? Quist said.