Your Name: Julie Neenan Souza
I’m running for: City Councilperson (City of Rye)
I am: Challenger
What is your political affiliation? Democrat
MyRye.com: Why are you running?
Souza: I have been attending our city council meetings for the past 11 months. I attend these meetings because the issues discussed and the decisions made by our council affect all of us in Rye. However, just as important as the discussion and the decisions, is the process and manner in which those conversations are held and decisions arrived upon.
The tone and tenor of the meetings I’ve attended for the past year are more antagonistic and hostile than they need to be. Decision-making is opaque. Responsiveness to, respect for and collaboration with the community is largely ignored. Rye deserves better. We should have curious and respectful leaders in those meetings, facilitating discussions, asking smart questions, encouraging community participation and making thoughtful decisions.
I am running to represent the change I would like to see in our local government.
(PHOTO:Moving Rye Forward team of team of Sara Goddard, Ben Stacks, Josh Cohn and Julie Souza.)
MyRye.com: Why are you running now?
Souza: I believe that if you see a problem, it’s not enough to complain about it—you have to be willing to be part of the solution. For some people, that means voicing their concerns or casting a vote. For me, it means running for office to represent the values I want to see in our local government.
Additionally, I believe that my business background in strategy and business development could be helpful as we undertake the master planning process and seek to strategically address the needs of Rye in a proactive manner.
MyRye.com: What are the three most important issues facing the City of Rye?
Fiscal responsibility – We have to be responsible with our tax dollars. This means not wasting time and legal and consulting fees on clearly irresponsible projects like moving the DPW from Disbrow, but it also means aggressively pursuing grants and other sources of revenue. While neighboring municipalities have been granted millions of dollars in state and county funding for infrastructure projects, in many instances Rye has failed to even apply for those funds.
Infrastructure – From parking to sidewalks, road repair to flood mitigation, sewage to recreation space, these might not be the flashiest of subjects but they are critical to the livability of Rye. We need to address languishing issues and proactively plan for future infrastructure support.
Respectful and transparent governance – This goes back to my earlier statements about making sure that our community trusts our local government to represent them, protect them and treat them with the civility and respect they deserve. The “what” of governance matters, of course, but so does the “how”.
MyRye.com: Describe your government and civic experience.
- VP and Board Member, Carver Center
- President, Loudon Woods Neighborhood Association
- Co-chair, Midland School Fair (and other volunteer roles at Midland)
- Volunteer, POTS (Part of the Solution) through Resurrection Church
- Volunteer, Children’s Philanthropy of Rye Women’s Club
- Coach, Rye Girls Softball
- Also active in alumni leadership roles for my undergrad (University of Michigan) and grad school (Harvard Business School)
MyRye.com: What’s one nice thing you can say about your opponents?
Souza: I respect anyone going through this process to volunteer as a Councilperson for Rye. The process of campaigning is new to most of us and it certainly takes a great deal of effort and commitment.
MyRye.com: What’s your favorite local pizzeria?
Souza: I think we’ve tried them all and they are all great!.
MyRye.com: What's you favorite delivery restaurant? We don’t take out very much; during the week I generally cook and on a weekend night, we go to one of the restaurants in town.
MyRye.com: What’s your favorite local restaurant for a casual meal with family?
Souza: This is a tough one. My family is a fan of all the restaurants in town so it often requires a family vote to decide where to go.
MyRye.com: How long have you lived in Rye?
Souza: 4.5 years
MyRye.com: Why did you choose to live in Rye?
Souza: The strong public schools, coupled with its commutability, made Rye stand out for my husband, John, and me when we were deciding to move out of the city. When we started seriously looking, however, we fell in love with the charm of Rye, as well as its vibrant community. Rye is a special place and I am so grateful that John and I are raising our three children here.
Your LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julieneenansouza/
Your Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/julieneenansouza
Your campaign web site: MovingRyeForward.com