- Name: Peter Bakula
- Age: 43
- Occupation: Paralegal
- Political office: None
Peabody Patch: If elected to the City Council, what issue would be first priority for you? What is one area you would like to see the city devote more resources to?
Peter Bakula: The issue that would be first priority for me is one I have been concerned with since I was a student in college. The one that compelled me to run for the City Council. We need to take a serious look at the ways we can improve the traffic situation in the city. Because the city still contributes to the MBTA, I think at a minimum additional bus routes can be implemented fairly easily and quickly to at least take some of the local traffic off of the streets during rush hour, when just about everyone from Salem who uses 128 goes through downtown Peabody. The long-term solution could be another form of public transportation in addition to the buses, perhaps a streetcar or monorail line in some places in the city. For example during the Halloween season, if there were a monorail station at the Northshore Mall, which was tied into the Salem commuter rail station, a lot of the traffic which gets off 128 heading through the streets of Peabody could then just park at the Northshore Mall and take the monorail into Salem. There are ways to design and implement them so that they are not an "eyesore" on the community. Las Vegas has a monorail along the strip, with stops even inside some of the hotels, and most of the monorail is hidden behind the buildings on the strip. There has to be some other options available for people to utilize if we are serious about relieving traffic and taking cars off the streets. We are living longer, meaning we are driving longer as well. There will be more cars on the roads in five years than there are today. You don't have to be an engineer to figure that out. As to an area where the city needs to devote more resources to, I have heard that some positions on the police force are not filled. If that was due to limited resources, that is an area I would like to see more directed to.
Patch: Peabody property taxes continue to be among the lowest in the area, along with many other fees homeowners or residents may pay in the city. Are taxpayers' getting their money's worth; is the city not spending enough to provide services, education, etc; or are Peabody taxpayers still paying too much?
Bakula: I think going back several administrations the city has perhaps been a little too conservative when it comes to the tax rate. I think it's always better to invest a reasonable amount of money consistently over time, rather than having the need to spend an exorbitant amount all at one time. In the not too recent past, we have built a new Brown School, with a new middle school in the near future. I know the uncertain early days of Proposition 2-1/2 played a major role in some of those policy decisions of the past, but just like a family which has to plan ahead and budget for major purchases, the city can as well. Perhaps one school a decade can or should be targeted for renovation or replacement. By the time that last school is done, the one which was done first would then come up again for review. I think the city does spend enough on services to its residents, although while campaigning, numerous residents told me they were not happy with the condition of their roads and sidewalks. Tax increases are never popular, but occasionally they're necessary, and should always be reasonable.
Patch: Under the current mayor's administration there has been a concentrated effort to reinvigorate "pride in Peabody," which many people in the city have rallied around. What is one thing you are proud of about Peabody?
Bakula: As a lifelong resident of Peabody, I am most proud of the diversity of its residents, as shown each year at our International Festival. Peabody is a 'melting pot' in it's own right. It's also great to have Brooksby Farm as a city-owned resource for our residents to visit, bringing a little bit of nature right to our backyard.