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New Hope Borough Council candidate Candace Souweine: ‘If smart people can come together, they can solve anything’

CandaceCandace Souweine (pronounced “Sue-Wayne”) is one of four Democrats running for New Hope Borough Council in next month’s election. A resident of Kiltie Drive, Souweine graduated from Long Island University with a BA in social sciences. “Almost all of my career has been in marketing research, in both corporate and agency settings, and a really good skill that comes from that is listening. For the last 18 years I’ve run my own business. I also have a kid, and she’s a senior at Boston College, so I’m very involved with her.”

Souweine has a variety of hobbies and interests. “I am a gardener. I’ve been to more than 70% of the major league baseball parks. I’m starting to think I actually like the baseball parks more than baseball. I am a huge women’s basketball fan (Minnesota Lynx are a favorite). I love to travel — I’ve been to 49 states,” she said.

And why did Souweine decide to run for Borough Council? “I was asked,” she replied frankly, laughing and displaying a candor and incisiveness that seems to come easily. “I think I bring a different set of skills: I’m very pro-business. I look at New Hope as a three-legged stool, and when it’s good, the stool is nice and stable and the tourists are happy, the residents are happy, and the businesses are happy. Right now there’s some unhappiness. So, it’s in my skill set to address that.

“Everywhere I’ve lived, I volunteer. I’ve had a very blessed life, I’ve had a lot of advantages, and I believe very strongly in giving back, no matter whom you give back to. So, my kid got an allowance, and she had to save money, so I gave her three jars: one was for spending, one was for saving, and one was for giving to whomever she wanted at the end of the year. Recently, during a phone conversation, she said that she had to end the call to go mentor a kid, and added, ‘We do that. We give back.’ I guess the message got there,” added Souweine proudly.

“I know I have more to learn, but there are two things that drive me: We’ve got to bring businesses back here. We’ve got to make it a better business environment…18 empty businesses is not good for the residents, it’s not good for the business community, it’s not good for the tourists. Also, I love New Hope because I can walk everywhere, and I’m sorry to say walking is not always easy here,” she continued.

“So can we solve these things? I fundamentally believe that if smart people can come together, they can solve things,” said Souweine.

“I want businesses to do well. We know that one of the issues is absentee landlords, so it’s very expensive to rent. Years ago, the landlords were the business owners, and now it’s a very different environment. So, I’m talking to one business owner who loves the fireworks, and he says ‘Why are they on Friday night? We don’t need them on Friday night, could we try them on a different night when we need to bring more visitors in?’ I don’t know if it will work, but it seems like a reasonable idea. Everybody has an opinion on the fireworks — I love them. But could we have them on a Wednesday night or Tuesday night? It’s an experiment, let’s try it,” she said.

In terms of doing more to market the borough as a tourist destination, Souweine observed, “I’m not sure we really know what we want New Hope to be. I went to Cape May this summer, and they’ve created a year-round resort. They bring buses in. It was a Tuesday in August, and they had 17 buses, and 16 coming on Wednesday. They’ve a created a year-round ‘eventness’. So I want to talk to people in Cape May and ask how they did that. Bethlehem redid their parking meters using smart technology; it’s apparently been really successful. We don’t need to recreate the wheel each time. Let’s go talk to Bethlehem and see how they did it.

“These are ways that we can learn from what others have done. I’m happy to play long ball, and I’m happy to play short ball — they both win. The Cardinals won a world championship with singles hitters; not a home run hitter among them,” she added.

“We’d like to bring some stores back that serve the residents. Then we have to hope that residents support that. Everything is a balance.”

“I also like to walk, and I want to make sure that walking is safe and lighted, and that we make New Hope even more of a walking town,” Souweine continued. “I’d love a Quincy Market: butcher shops, flower shops, a charcuterie, cheese shops — how does New Hope not have a cheese shop?”

Aside from making more businesses relevant to locals, she wants to organize residents and merchants around beautifying the borough. “When I was at General Mills,” recalled Souweine, “We had a day where you signed up for a team and went to a house and helped homeowners with painting and general maintenance — not rebuilding — and they had so many volunteer teams that they were competing to sign up the quickest, and pretty soon they ran out of people who asked for help. So maybe we do a neighbor-to-neighbor program. I think I have a vision that says ‘how can we harness people and bring them together for a greater good?’

“As a small business owner, I wear many hats. I also bring people together. It’s what I like to do. I’m a facilitator. People are smart…maybe they don’t want to run for office, but they have ideas, and I want to get to those ideas. I don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I have to be able to ask them, ‘So, noise is a problem…other than complaining, what would you do about it?’ Give me a solution. Give me something to work with. It’s a dynamic process, and the more you involve people, the better off you are,” she concluded.

“I love being here, and I really believe I’ve bought the last house I’m ever going to buy. So, I really want this community to thrive. I think there’s lots of smart people here, some I know, and some I  haven’t met yet,” Souweine said.

And what exactly does “thriving” mean to this candidate, aside from fuller occupancy rates for storefronts? “It means that’s it’s a beautiful place to be to be, it’s where everyone wants to come, it means the B&Bs are full, not just on weekends but during the week, because New Hope is the greatest place to be,” she remarked.

Despite her market research orientation and ample listening skills, Souweine does not view her role as merely hearing complaints and creating consensus: “I’m more interested in solutions,” she said. “I’m extremely pragmatic. I’m smart, but I’m not that smart. I think the people have ideas. Some of them should be tried. I hear a fair amount of ‘It can’t be done.’ I’m new enough to say ‘Really, why not? Let’s see if we can figure out a way around that.'”

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein

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