District 4 City Council candidate Mike Cannon
District 4 is Precincts 6 and 9
Occupation: Business Owner
Years lived in Framingham: 10
Municipal experience: Current member of the Finance Committee. Former member of the Capital Budget Committee. Former Town Meeting member. Finance Committee liaison to Keefe Tech. Team Framingham (Boston Marathon) Steering Committee. Skate Park Advisory Committee (appointed as Capital Budget Committee representative)
Volunteerism: Board of Trustees, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Massachusetts chapter. Dana-Farber Leadership Council, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Museum Council Steering Committee, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
In less than 100 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a City Councilor?
I will bring an open-minded, independent voice to the Council. I don’t hesitate to ask difficult questions or have uncomfortable conversations, especially when discussing the tax burdens of our citizens. Our blighted plazas are waiting to be reinvigorated. Our history of substantial annual tax and water bill increases is eager to be curbed. Our reputation of being a difficult place to do business is ready to be redefined. I do and will collaborate with everyone, not just those with whom I agree. The path before us contains significant challenges but tremendous opportunities; both of which we can undertake together.
In less than 100 words, describe your district: “District” is an awkward political term. The seemingly random lines on the map don’t illustrate our vibrant neighborhoods, our active growing families, or the seniors who have long been stewards of our community. District 4 also includes retail and commercials parcels aggressively targeted for further development. We will need a District Councilor who is ready to fight to protect our neighborhoods, has a depth of knowledge, a foundation of experience, and a proven track record of building consensus, and developing ongoing productive relationships to get things done.
Website or Facebook page link: www.facebook.com/
Election announcement submitted to Framingham Source during the nomination period
Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked to provide one-word answers only
How much would you vote to increase (or decrease) the tax levy in your first year of office? Undecided
What business is needed in your district? Technology
What amenity is lacking in your district? Open-space
Should Framingham become a sanctuary city? No!
Would you support the creation of a dog park in Framingham? Conceptually
Would you support the construction of a splash pad in Framingham? Conceptually
Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? Yes
Would you vote for a debt exclusion override to build a new school in Framingham? Unlikely
What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Callahan State Park
What is your favorite place in your district? (just one): Bella Costa
Editor’s Note: Candidates were given up to 350 words to answer each question. Answers are copy & pasted into this report.
QUESTION #1: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
We have far more than a single critical issue requiring the immediate attention of our first Council. Because of this, we must elect individuals who bring a foundation of proven experience and a broad depth of knowledge to the role of District Councilor.
Our first Council will have a tremendous amount of difficult work to accomplish. After ensuring a smooth transition to our new structure of government (a considerable challenge in itself), we must focus on examining and controlling our unsustainable spending. Without a “course correction,” we will be unable to continue to adequately support our schools or provide the same level of public services, while simultaneously taxing families, veterans, and seniors out of their homes. Reasonable, common-sense measures will put us on the right track and protect our schools, veterans, seniors, and families.
On the revenue side, we must attract and retain commercial enterprise through thoughtful and controlled development, while staunchly protecting our neighborhoods. Flooding the community with apartment development is not the solution for our financial challenges and traffic headaches. As a current member of our town’s Finance Committee, I know well the opportunities and the challenges we face. I have a track record of developing ongoing, mutually-respectful and mutually-successful relationships with other elected officials, professional staff, and department heads. Our councilors must be able to disagree on an issue yet successfully collaborate without jeopardizing future discussion. We must maintain a fruitful and ongoing dialogue with the residents and businesses of each district. As has been the case throughout my years of community involvement in Framingham, I will continue to be both accessible and hyper-responsive. Residents may reach out to me via whichever method is most convenient for them. My cell phone and direct emails will continue to be available. (508) 309 8901, MikeCannon01701@gmail.com, or facebook.com/MikeForFramingham
QUESTION #2: The Framingham Public Schools represent more than 50 percent of the total budget for the community. Would you support a level-funded budget, a level service budget, and increase in the school budget or a decrease in the school budget? Why?
Framingham has a proud tradition of supporting its schools. Continuing to invest in education is critical to prepare our children for success, and increase the performance of each of our schools. Even those without children enrolled in our school system recognize the importance and value to our community of having successful, thriving schools. With our growing population and diverse academic constituency, we must listen to our parents, educators, and students to provide the resources necessary to ensure performance across the school system. I will work closely with Adam Freudberg, our new District School Committee member, to further provide for the children and parents of District 4. An important part of my job as District Councilor is to make sure that we are in a position to further support our schools financially. In addition to controlling our municipal spending, we must focus on attracting and retaining commercial businesses (while staunchly protecting our neighborhoods) to generate the necessary revenue required to support our schools.
QUESTION #3: Traffic is a major issue in your district? How will you work with the neighborhood, other city councilors, and the new mayor to solve the problem.
As I speak with residents, traffic frequently tops the list of neighborhood frustrations (Concord at A Street, Fenwick, Central and Edgell, and Saxonville’s McGrath Square, leading into our district, for example).
The new charter establishes a Traffic Commission (comprised of the police and fire chiefs, the director of public works, the superintendent of schools, or their designees, and four residents) tasked with addressing traffic congestion.
Our district includes Route 9 and the retail-heavy “Golden Triangle” area, with its own unique traffic challenges.
Over the years, the traffic once restricted to the route 9 corridor has encroached further into our neighborhoods. We must have an effective voice on the council to advocate for our neighborhoods as future development is discussed. While careful and controlled development is important, we must staunchly protect our neighborhoods
QUESTION #4 – What is your view of open space vs economic development for your district? Do you have the same view for the City of Framingham?
Economic development is critical for our ability to support our schools and provide strong public services, but we must balance development with a strong commitment to preserve open space. Whether recreational or conservation land, the communities which feature ample open space are the communities that provide the highest quality of life to its residents.
While we can debate the merits and shortcomings of the Millwood transaction, it is a reminder that we must actively plan ahead for future open space preservation opportunities. Framingham also has the capacity to plan for further controlled development in carefully identified areas (the tech park, and parcels near Staples, for example), but the preservation of open space must be an important component of any future economic development plans.
QUESTION #5 – Your district includes the Golden Triangle. Discuss your vision of economic development for that area.
The Golden Triangle (which hasn’t actually resembled a triangle in many years) has expanded several times to become one of the largest retail districts in New England. While this has been an important engine for our local economy, and an important provider of jobs, nearby residents have been feeling the worsening impact of residual traffic in their own neighborhoods.
I am deeply concerned with the lack of resident input in discussions concerning future plans for the Golden Triangle area. A steering committee was recently convened with key officials and stakeholders to discuss future plans for the area. However, I was disappointed that none of the 27 seats on the committee were designated for residents of our impacted neighborhoods. I will work diligently to ensure that our residents have a voice in the dialogue surrounding this important area for our community.
QUESTION #6 – TJX is a major player in your district. The company has its world-wide headquarters in the district as well as five stores. How will work with the business community in your district including major players like TJX, Shoppers World, Target, Lowe’s? And how will you make sure they are community partners with the City of Framingham?
In any enterprise, it is easier to grow an existing customer than it is to create a new one. While it is important to attract new commercial enterprise to Framingham, we must improve our relationships with our existing corporate taxpayers. Without a strong corporate tax base, we will have difficulty funding our schools and providing strong public services. We must work together so these entities grow from just taxpayers and become partners. The District Councilors must understand the key Framingham priorities of these partners, and collaboratively develop strategies to meet their needs while exploring new opportunities to benefit our community.
Some of these relationships have become strained in recent years, and our neighboring communities are diligently working to woo them away from Framingham. Successful, mutually-beneficial relationships with corporate partners not only deliver critical tax revenue, but can also provide unique support to our schools, our parks, and our neighborhoods. I would also like to work with our District School Committee Member, Adam Freudberg, to collaborate with our corporate partners to grow scholarship and internship opportunities for our high school students.
QUESTION #7 – Do you support medical marijuana dispensaries in your district? Why or Why not?
I would not object to the presence of a medical marijuana dispensary in our district. Access to medical care is of unparalleled importance to our residents, and the Council should not interfere with the relationship between a doctor and their patient.
QUESTION #8 – Do you think your district is safe? How will you work with Police to make sure residents in your neighborhood feel safe?
We are privileged to live in a safe community, and we must support our police and fire departments to maintain the protection of our neighborhoods. While I hope you never have to dial 911, should the need arise, you will assuredly encounter a highly-trained and immediate response. We must work to maintain this level of professionalism and speed. As I have done on the Finance Committee and on the Capital Budget Committee, I will work to ensure that we are investing in the tools and training necessary to address the evolving public safety challenges facing Framingham and our district. I support community policing and programs which provide an officer presence on bicycles and on foot. If elected, I plan to hold regular “Coffee With Your Councilor” events throughout our district and will invite the police department to participate in the discussion. An ongoing dialogue between our residents, our elected officials, and our police is important to maintaining a safe community.
QUESTION #9 – Do you think Framingham is family friendly? Why or why not? What would you do to do make the community more inviting to families?
Framingham continues to be a wonderful community in which to raise a family, but we can and must do better. Participation in sports, the arts, and other after-school activities are widely recognized to improve student engagement and performance in school; yet the financial commitment facing families for these programs has become prohibitive for many.
As we find efficiencies in our new budget process that reduce our municipal operating expenses, I would encourage new investment in making participation in sports and the arts less financially burdensome for our families. I will also work to foster greater collaboration between our Parks & Recreation department, our schools, area non-profits, and our corporate partners. Families continue to be attracted to Framingham for obvious reasons, which underscores the importance of electing a Council ready to tackle our unique financial challenges on day one.
QUESTION #10 – In the last 18 months, the Danforth museum and art school was evicted from its home of decades, the Framingham Artists Guild had to find a new home, and recently dozens of artists including the Fountain Street Fine Arts gallery have left Framingham. How would you support the arts in Framingham as a city councilor?
Framingham has a vibrant arts community not because of its municipal government, but in many ways, in spite of it. We have not made the arts enough of a priority, either in our community or in our schools. In recent years, the relationship between our valuable arts community and our municipal government has been reactionary rather than proactive. Arts and culture in community should be an important component in the quality of life enjoyed by our residents. I have been a long-time member of the Museum Council Steering Committee at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Even with my involvement in the greater Boston arts community, I lived in Framingham for years before discovering Amazing Things, Danforth Art, and our other local artists.
We need to do a better job of communicating the cultural offerings to our residents. Our Parks & Rec department is actually formally named Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs. I’ll work to improve the relationship between that department, the Framingham arts community, and our local businesses.
QUESTION #11 – How will you make sure that residents in your neighborhood have a voice in the new City of Framingham, if elected? Give specifics.
We need to be more “customer service” focused as a municipal government. There’s a lot of information available if you know where to look, but it’s not easy for residents to be involved in the process. We need to make it easier to conduct routine business with the City of Framingham.
I have a lengthy track record of being both accessible and hyper-responsive. As has been the case throughout my years of community involvement in Framingham, residents may reach out to me via whichever method is most convenient for them. My cell phone and direct emails will continue to be available. (508) 309 8901,MikeCannon01701@gmail.com, or facebook.com/MikeForFramingham
QUESTION #12: How will you get residents in your neighborhood more involved in their community? Give specifics.
I’ve met with hundreds of residents over the past several weeks. There is a clear desire throughout our district for residents to have an active voice in the decision-making processes of our community. Many residents had key frustrations, questions, ideas, or concerns, but didn’t know who to call or where to go. I’m excited to continue this outreach if elected to our community’s first Council. The transition to our new structure of government will require more robust debate, a spirited exchange of ideas, and the confidence of our residents that they have a valued voice. I am eager to increase the participation in our government from throughout the district, and bring new voices into the conversation. I will continue to be both accessible and hyper-responsive. I will also make a point to be welcoming to the residents of apartments, who are often overlooked by our municipal government; we need to ensure that when it comes time for them to buy, they no longer overlook Framingham, as often happens today. Framingham has a rich and celebrated history. Together we can work to ensure that our community’s brightest days are indeed ahead of us.
QUESTION #13: Framingham is a community of full of social, economic and cultural diversity. What can you do as a councilor to not only represent your district but to the bring the nine districts together as one City?
Framingham has just about everything. We have higher education and biotechnology; we have bustling restaurants and local agriculture; we have global corporate enterprise and entrepreneurial small business owners. What we don’t have within our 25 square miles, probably isn’t very far away. When I bought my home here at the age of 29, I was overwhelmed by the pride the residents of our community had in Framingham. It was more than pride; it was love. I had never seen anything like it anywhere else.
As someone who has been involved in our community for several years, I love introducing both newcomers and long-time residents to parts of their community they haven’t yet discovered. What makes Framingham special is the diversity and unique flavors of our many neighborhoods. We need to celebrate that. The traditional motto of the United States applies perfectly to Framingham. E pluribus unum. “Out of many, one.”