September 17, 2014

Jeff Duncan hopes to return to council position

As published in the Erin Advocate

Jeff Duncan says Erin Town Council needs to rebuild residents’ confidence in local government, and he wants to be part of it.

Duncan was on Council for two terms, from 2000 to 2006, but stepped down when he found it difficult to balance his work and Town commitments. He has recently retired after 25 years with a private land use planning firm and will have more time for municipal business.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I have some experience and skills to communicate with people, facilitate agreements with folks and find some middle ground.”

He has continued to work on behalf of the Town, now serving 17 years on the Committee of Adjustment, including eight as the chair. While on council, he was the founding chair of the Heritage Committee and the Erin representative with Hills of Headwaters Tourism.

He wants the Town to be open to new investment and suggests having a person on staff as an advisor and advocate for people wanting to expand or start businesses here, rather than dealing mainly with legal impediments.

“It is unfortunate that there has not been much growth – we’re starting to lose opportunities,” he said.

While sewage treatment may be needed for some areas, he feels the Town should look for affordable ways to do it. He believes that sewer service is not absolutely necessary for attracting business, and that residents in areas that already have good septic systems and wells should not be forced to hook up to municipal sewers and the water system. He said he has “faith in people” to maintain their septic systems and wells.

He wants to find ways to make it less intimidating for residents to bring their questions and comments to council, and more ways for people to volunteer their time and talents through the Town on behalf of the community.

He was part of the committee in the 1990s that raised money to help the Town buy the Hillsburgh mill pond, which the Town decided later not to do. He still wants to see the pond preserved, but says changes may be needed to satisfy environmental and safety concerns.

He said it is important to know where election candidates stand on current issues, but that issues may be different a few years from now.

“We need people with a good ability to make decisions on behalf of the community and get things done,” he said.

“Local government should be boring. It should be run efficiently so residents don’t need to worry about it. It shouldn’t be full of drama.”