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Conan_HeadShotNH Liberty Party board member Conan Salada is running for Keene city council at-large. Here are his responses to the Keene Sentinel’s 2015 candidate questionnaire:
Name: Conan Salada
Age: 36
Address: 132 Kennedy Dr Ward 4
Family: Yes
Education: 4 years college
Occupation: Self employed
Organizations to which you belong/have belonged: Keene Liberty Alliance
Previous elected office: None
How long have you lived in Keene? 4 years

Why are you running for City Council?
My entire life I’ve watched every level of government (local, State, and Federal) run this great country and its people into the ground all while claiming to have made our lives better. Have they really? Currently NH’s state debt stands at $12.3 billion while the US owes a whopping $18.4 trillion. Programs that many my age have paid into and expect to collect once they retire will be completely insolvent and unavailable to them. The money Will run out one day, but it seems our current elected officials are either oblivious to this fact, or simply unwilling to stand up and face the growing problem in any way other than just throwing more money at it. Well, I will not to sit back idly and watch while these men and woman who supposedly “Represent me” flush my inheritance down the drain. If elected city councilor I will make those hard decisions that they are unwilling to make by working tirelessly to curb the rampant spending and money redistribution within the city.

What role do Keene City Councilors have in addressing the heroin/opioid crisis gripping our community? Please be specific.
Years from now students of U.S. history will look back and wonder at the dismal failure that is the War on Drugs. Drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition doesn’t work. It has clearly ruined far more lives than it has ever saved and it is high time that our current officials and law enforcement get with the times. Fining and or jailing an addict isn’t going to cure him of his ailment. Most times it only compounds the problem at a cost that is directly passed onto the taxpayer. The solution is education and treatment. As well as finding and exposing the problem at its source (such as legalized prescription opioids that get users hooked in the first place.) City councilors should work with local law enforcement in helping these individuals find the help they so desperately need instead of throwing the book at them and further clogging an already bloated justice system.

Are Keene’s city taxes too high? Where could spending be cut? Where is the city not spending enough?
Taxes in this city are completely unsustainable. I currently pay more in property tax per year than my mortgage and home insurance combined. There are many of us out there who suffer from the same burden. I hear it every day. City spending cuts should be made across the board starting with the salaries of higher ranking city officials. Some departments like the airport and parking enforcement should be defunded entirely and left to the free market. No more new city projects. Pay down our debt. Maintain what we have now and strive to create a surplus for the coming lean years.

What is a key challenge affecting the people of Keene and what would you do about it?
New Hampshire is set to experience a rapid increase in its older retiring population within the next decade or so while simultaneously suffering a decrease of working age adults which are vital to the city’s economic growth and stability. If the city of Keene is to survive this inevitable change in demographics, we must find a way to encourage younger families and homeowners to move here now. Not in 10-20 years. Many of our current representatives believe that the solution to this problem is to spend more money on city amenities like brand new schools, court houses and Ice Rinks and revitalize certain stretches of road that really don’t need it. While some investment is necessary and good at times the current strategy being followed will ultimately backfire in the long run. The very demographic that Keene needs to survive is being discouraged from moving here in the first place because of the high taxes that are incurred from over spending. The solution is to cut spending and reduce the tax rate. This is and will always be the best way to attract new businesses and human capital to an area.

What is an issue in this city people aren’t talking about enough?
One issue that hasn’t been talked about much until just recently is the overall apathy of local voters and the lack of participation in local government. After this month’s overwhelming turnout of prospective candidates, there has been much speculation as to their underlying motives. I believe that this is a sign of the times and we’ll be seeing a lot more of this from here on out. Many in our community are awakening to the fact that our current elected officials don’t really represent us or our best interests. The folks are tired of the good ol’boy club members calling all the shots, as am I. Though, the question remains, will these fresh candidates bring anything new to the table, or just more of the same? I look forward to reading the responses to this same questionnaire from my fellow candidates.

What are the most important qualifications that should be considered in the search for a new city manager? Please be specific.
The ideal city manager will be honest and incorruptible. He/she will be capable of bringing new ideas to the table and able to adapt with the changing times. He will be ready to tackle serious issues the city faces like the unsustainable tax rate and the inevitable shrinking work force. And, he will be willing to work for less than $60,000. The current salary of 131,000 (before benefits) as well as the proposed increase to $200,000 is unacceptable.