Miller (Precinct 6): work on opioid crisis, bring big box in
GREENFIELD — Precinct 6 Town Council candidate Christopher Miller says the opioid crisis, a compromise to bring a big box store to Greenfield and the town’s tax base are the three most pressing issues facing the town over the next three years.
Miller, who will run against one-term incumbent Hillary Hoffman in Tuesday’s town election, said as a councilor he would begin working on the opioid problem by talking with experts, holding public meetings and making the community aware of all of the issues surrounding the problem.
“It has become a serious problem and it’s creating other problems like violence and robberies,” said Miller, 32, who was born and raised in Greenfield.
Miller, who sells life insurance, said there needs to be a conclusion to the big box issue and that needs to be in the form of compromise.
“This impacts a lot of people,” he said. “Town Council can’t keep bogging the town down in ordinances that might stop development. Maybe there’s a way to make almost everyone happy.”
He said he’d like to work at lowering the town’s tax rate, or at least keep it from getting higher.
“It’s tough for the town to find the money it needs to keep things going,” he said. “But, we have to get creative because we can’t keep burdening taxpayers.”
Miller said he doesn’t believe a big box retailer would destroy the already established businesses in town. He said he doesn’t want companies and businesses to think of Greenfield as an anti-business community, because that would be bad for the health of the town.
He said while the town can’t force factories and larger businesses to come to Greenfield, it needs to find a way to encourage them.
“We need jobs that pay,” he said. “We also need to make sure we aren’t passing ordinances that, at least, appear to be anti-business.”
He said the types of ordinances he’s talking about are a recently proposed plastic bag ban, a stricter wetlands ordinance and a Native American burial ground ordinance, for instance.
“Ordinances tend to prohibit, not expand,” he said.
Miller said he is in favor of growth throughout town.
“You have to look at the cost benefit analysis for anything you’re talking about,” he said. “If a business wants to come to town, Greenfield shouldn’t try to discourage it. There aren’t a lot knocking at our door.”
He said something like a wood-burning power plant, where clearly the majority doesn’t want it, should be turned away, but a big box store should be encouraged.
Miller said he would work with fellow councilors and the mayor to continue to provide a workable, but tight, budget each year.
“The town needs to find creative ways to fund things, including Isaac Mass’ suggestion to have an ordinance that allows money from speeding tickets to stay in town,” he said.
Miller said he supports both a dog and skate park, but believes they should be paid for with grants and people raising funds for them.
He said when considering mayoral appointments and reappointments, the Council should reject only those candidates who don’t meet criteria set by the town.
“It’s supposed to be a merit-based process,” he said. “If someone has the qualifications, the Council shouldn’t be rejecting them. We don’t want to discourage people from serving.”
Miller said he has always paid attention to local politics, is well informed, and has decided he wants to get involved.
He said he was the campaign manager for mayoral candidate Jim Santiago of Holyoke and said that’s when he really became interested in local politics.
“I’m interested in finding better ways to do things,” he said.
Miller said he believes the Town Council needs to be more diverse at this point.
“You have a group of like-minded people and I think the way to make for a more balanced council is to have different voices on it,” said Miller. “I believe I would be a different voice.”
Miller said he does not believe there is room in local politics for party affiliation.
“It’s more about attitude and working together in a small city or town,” he said. “It’s about the issues and what’s best for the town, not about how someone might vote because of their party affiliation. I don’t think small-town politicians do that. They do what’s best for their community.”
Miller said people will draw their own conclusions and vote for the candidates that think most like them on the issues, not for the candidate who shares a party affiliation.
Miller is not married and has no children.
Town elections will be held Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Guiding Star Grange Hall, 401 Chapman St.
( Editor's note: Some information in this story has changed from an earlier edition)