Lebanon: A Resilient Community

Inclusive, Sustainable, and Thriving

The City of Lebanon is a special place... The holiday lights in Colburn Park. Our beautiful natural places like Signal Hill and Trues Brook Ledges. The Mascoma River Greenway. Our very own Storr’s Hill. These are some of the things I love about Lebanon. It’s a city that feels like a small town. As your City Councilor, I am committed to making Lebanon an even more inclusive community where all feel welcomed and valued. I am dedicated to considering the needs of future generations when making decisions today, and I will continue to work hard to ensure that our best years are still ahead.

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Building a thriving economy

As the healthcare, employment, and commercial hub of the region, Lebanon serves a critical role in our regional economy. And this – which makes us special – also presents us with challenges:

  • Responding to the needs of our city without unduly burdening those who live here

  • Encouraging responsible growth that preserves our small-town feel

Karen has supported investments in municipal infrastructure and has been a champion for downtown revitalization in both Lebanon and West Lebanon, while seeking opportunities to provide much-needed property tax relief for Lebanon taxpayers. Examples of these efforts include securing brownfields funding to clean up two acres on the North end of the Westboro Yard, advocating at the state legislature to restore funds for cities and towns, and supporting public-private partnerships to fund the Kilton Public Library, the Mascoma River Greenway, and affordable housing for those facing chronic housing instability.

COVID-19 has created significant economic challenges for many of us, something Karen understands well having had to shutter the Lebanon Diner due to the pandemic. The next few years will require steady leadership on the City Council that balances strategic investments with fiscal restraint. Progress is being made in downtown West Lebanon with efforts to clean up the Westboro Yard and in downtown Lebanon with the redevelopment of the former public works facility on Spencer Street into housing. Karen will continue to advance these types of initiatives on the City Council.

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Fighting climate change

Lebanon is a leader among New Hampshire cities and towns in the fight against climate change at the local and state level. As Mayor, Karen signed on to the US Mayors Climate Protection agreement in 2009, on behalf of the City of Lebanon. This action also brought about the creation of the Lebanon Energy Advisory Committee which has continued to advance Lebanon's leadership in this area. Karen has supported:

  • Property tax exemptions to encourage homeowner investments in renewable energy

  • A public-private partnership to bring solar power to eight sites in the City of Lebanon and generate revenue to provide property tax relief

  • A Gas-to-Energy project at the Lebanon landfill that removes methane - a dangerous greenhouse gas - from the environment and generates energy to power landfill operations and save taxpayer dollars

  • Creation of Lebanon Community Power to offer lower-cost and environmentally friendly power to residents of Lebanon and possibly across the Granite State

With resistance to combatting climate change at the state level in New Hampshire, leadership at the local level will be more important than ever in the years ahead. Karen's long history and experience in this area have prepared her to be a champion in the fight against climate change at the local level.

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Creating an inclusive community

A commitment to inclusiveness is at the heart of Lebanon's Sustainability Principles and the City's Master Plan, guiding documents that Karen has helped craft over her 16 years on the City Council. When racist literature appeared in the City in 2018, Karen worked with her colleague, City Councilor Karen Zook, to draft a resolution rejecting all ideologies based on hatred and intolerance, including racism, xenophobia and homophobia, and condemning activities that promote these ideologies. Karen has voted to extend civil rights protections to transgender employees of the City of Lebanon and to expand the number and types of protected groups in the Welcoming Lebanon Ordinance. She has advocated for implicit bias training for City staff and volunteers. She is a longstanding supporter of Advance Transit - an important resource for people without access to transportation - and an advocate for affordable housing. Karen is dedicated to making Lebanon a more inclusive community and is currently working on the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Commission for the City of Lebanon.

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Leading on community health and safety

Public health and safety are core functions of local government, and Lebanon is a leader in this area. Lebanon's firefighters are all cross-trained as emergency medical service providers and are one of the busiest departments in the state of New Hampshire. With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, Karen fought for a mask mandate locally and worked to coordinate with surrounding communities in the region since many Upper Valley residents cross municipal borders daily for work, shopping, medical care, and other activities. Karen has also advocated for the creation of a community nurse/paramedic position to help meet the increasing demand for in-home healthcare calls. Karen recently fought for municipal support of our regional public health agency to facilitate greater coordination in the response to COVID-19, particularly vaccine distribution.
Lebanon Police Department has achieved CALEA accreditation, a standard of excellence that less than 25% of law enforcement agencies in the US achieve. Lebanon Police were one of the first departments in the state of New Hampshire equipped with body cameras, a mechanism that protects both officers and members of the public. Karen is supporting a city initiative to work with West Central Behavioral Health to incorporate mental health responses to 911 calls, as well as a regional approach to housing instability and the creation of a regional shelter.