UPDATED: Framingham At-Large City Council Candidate Cheryl Tully Stoll

At-Large City Council Candidate Cheryl Tully Stoll

Age:  55

Occupation:

Years lived in Framingham: 50

Family (optional): Husband Ed Stoll, two step-daughters Katie and Hillary, grandson Dale (9) and son-in-law Kris.

Municipal experience: Framingham Board of Selectmen, 2014 – Present (Current Chair)

  • Framingham Board of Selectmen Policy Sub Committee Convener 2016 – Present
  • MetroWest Regional Transit Authority, Framingham Representative, 2015 – Present
  • Framingham Veterans’ Commission Selectmen’s Liaison, 2014 – Present
  • Framingham Public Schools Health Advisory Committee, 2007 – 2012
  • Resiliency for Life Program at Framingham High School, Advisory Board, 2001 – 2010
  • Framingham Public Schools Food Service Director Search Committee, 2007
  • Framingham Youth Commission, Appointed Member, 1984 – 1986, 1991 – 1993
  • Framingham Public Schools Superintendent Search Committee, 1982
  • Framingham Public Schools Health Curriculum Review Committee, 1980– 1981

 

Volunteerism: Daniel’s Table Hunger Program, 2017 – Present

  • Framingham Rotary Club, Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award, 2016
  • MetroWest  Health Foundation—Ethnic Disparities Workgroup, 2006 – Present
  • MetroWest Foundation—Framingham Union Grants Panel, 2005 – 2014
  • MetroWest Health Foundation—Childhood Obesity Task Force, 2006 – 2012
  • Programs for People, Board of Directors, 2009 – 2011
  • South Middlesex Legal Services, Kidscare Advisory Board Member, 2007 – 2010
  • Framingham Court Mediation Services, Small Claims Court Mediator, 2007 – 2008
  • Framingham Public Access Founding Board of Directors & Treasurer/CFO, 2006 – 2007
  • Fiddler’s Green Neighborhood Association, Co-President, 2000 – 2001

 

In less than 100 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a city councilor?

I’ve spent 36 years as a volunteer working to make Framingham a better place to live. As current Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, I am optimally positioned to help the transition to a city. I have collegial relationships with most of the candidates running for office, town employees, other community leaders and our school department. I also have strong collaboration skills.

Framingham’s long-term financial sustainability is in jeopardy. We have opportunities to head off adverse impacts to residents if we plan appropriately. I have the necessary skills and will work to see that these plans are developed.

Website or Facebook page linkwww.TullyStoll.com

 

Election announcement submitted to Framingham Source during the nomination period

 

Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked to provide one-word answers only

Name one business that Framingham needs:  Market Basket

Name one amenity Framingham is missing: A splash pad

How much would you vote to increase (or decrease) the tax levy in your first year of office? 0% – 1.5%.

Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? Yes

Should Framingham become a sanctuary city? No

Would you support the creation of a dog park in Framingham? Yes

Would you support the construction of a splash pad in Framingham? Yes

Would you vote for a debt exclusion override to build a new school in Framingham? Yes

Should City Hall remain in downtown Framingham?  Yes

Do you support Framingham State purchasing the Maynard Building for its new partnership with Danforth Art?  Yes

What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one):  Mad Willies

Name one thing you personally did in the last year to improve Framingham.  I served on the Skate Park Committee and we have designed a great park which will be located at Farm Pond. Construction will be begin this month so that our youth who aren’t joiners and don’t sign up for teams or clubs will finally have a place to go for recreation where they can feel part of a community.

 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 Framingham?How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?

The biggest issue facing Framingham is successfully making the transition from a town to a city form of government. The day after the final election Council Members and the Mayor should sit down together to begin developing stronger personal relationships. Seeing each other more clearly as people will help us develop an additional level of respect and understanding that will hopefully facilitate the development of agreeable Council processes and procedures.

I will collaborate with my colleagues to establish practices that invite public input into our proceedings so that all voices in our community have an opportunity to be heard regarding any matter we consider. We should allow constituents to speak during agenda items, solicit feedback and be very open in all of our dealings.

This Council has the opportunity to establish practices and attitudes that could shape our community for generations to come.

Those elected, will decide what traditions to keep and what standards to establish. How easy will it be to petition our local government regarding issues that matter to us? Will there be unnecessary hurdles or will the process be welcoming?

The other thing we will need to do is to establish a good working rhythm with the Mayor and his/her team.

I believe that my current role as Chair of the Board of Selectmen uniquely positions me to be able to help lead the transition to the city we want to be.

Being one of the people responsible for the transition to date, positions me to be someone who can add great value to the process. I am up to date on internal matters and issues and have good relationships with professional staff. I hope to be able to share my knowledge and help other new Council members navigate their way through our transition.

A successful transition for me would be one where our operations are clearly understood by the public, residents feel they have been heard, and there has been no deterioration in the services we currently provide. This will happen if WE ALL WORK TOGETHER.

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? Level funded. Why? What are your thoughts on improving the school district? While the school district and the municipal government are separate entities, without good schools everyone’s property values plummet. What will you do to build a positive working relationship with the school district?

 It is very difficult to answer this question without even knowing what the Superintendent thinks our children’s needs are, how he is proposing that they be met or what our revenue outlook will be. However, I will make an attempt to answer the question.

We have strong schools, but they need to be better. And some School Committee members agree that there is a problem with the disparate rise in education costs in Framingham. Our overall yearly increase is 4%, but our Special Education increase is 8%. Long-term these rates of increase are unsustainable. We need to find ways to do things smarter while still meeting the individual needs of each child. We have a new Superintendent in place who I believe is up to these challenges.

I would support a school budget that meets each child’s individual needs and is efficient. Unless there is some budget calamity that I am currently unaware of, I believe a level services budget is the place to start. That’s not the same budget as last year; but the same services which would theoretically be a higher but fiscally manageable budget. That said, there were millions of dollars returned to the town at the end of the last fiscal year due to issues with the previous Superintendent. I believe that overage might have been baked into this year’s base budget. This needs to be sorted out before the next budget cycle so that we are sure that we are truly providing the services we believe we are.

I believe that every dollar the city spends needs to be necessary and fully justifiable to all of our taxpayers.

I already have built a positive relationship with the school district. It resulted in an agreed upon budget number two months before Town Meeting this year. The previous year there was no agreement at all.

We have also been more able to align and build strong collaborations between our town and school department’s technology services, finance and human resources groups which has also freed up more resources for education.

Currently, I work closely with the School Committee Chair, other Board members as well as the Superintendent and other members of senior staff. I also have good relationships with some of the teachers in our system.

We have good schools, but they need to be better. One thing I would do would be to support the proposed alignment of the elementary level curriculum. All of our children should have the opportunity to learn the same things and having multiple curriculums across the district is inefficient and can lead to disparities as students migrate into middle school.

I also believe that once elementary curriculum is aligned, that we need to evaluate the School Choice program. I would much rather see our tax dollars spent on before and after school tutoring programs than on school busses that in some cases substitute as free daycare. Student achievement needs to be our number one educational goal. We have a geography problem with the majority of students living in one corner of town and most of our school buildings being on another. School busses will still be necessary, but not as many and certainly not multiple busses for the same grade level going into the same neighborhoods. School Choice has damaged the fabric of our neighborhoods leading to neighbors not even knowing one another anymore. It’s time we examine the program.

Another improvement I believe we should make is to reduce the top-heavy senior staff in the system and use the freed up resources to give more support to our most challenged learners. This step should assist us in raising some of our schools out of level 3 status.

 

Question #3 – Traffic is a major issue throughout Framingham. How will you work with the city council and the mayor to alleviate this headache for residents.

 I am very concerned about traffic issues in our community. Unfortunately, the Traffic Commission called for as the last item in the Charter could potentially take two years to establish a functional department to make recommendations to the mayor and council.We don’t have two years to begin addressing this issue. There is currently a traffic study underway that should be concluded by the end of the year and I believe that we, as a government, should use that data and any other pertinent information necessary to work with the community and develop a traffic plan immediately.

There is too much development being proposed at the moment to not begin addressing this matter now.

Additionally, I currently serve as the Framingham representative to the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA). We have been expanding multi-modal transportation opportunities in the community and region and those efforts need to be fostered. We have also added new bike lockers to the train station parking area.

As a member of the Board of Selectmen I voted for our Complete Streets program and have been a big supporter of Transit oriented Development (TOD) which would generate less traffic that typical development. I will continue to support these efforts and encourage our new mayor and my fellow councilors to do the same.

Question #4 – Framingham is home to Framingham State University and MassBay Community College. How will you work with two to make sure they are community partners with the City of Framingham?

I have previously worked with both organizations on behalf of the Town and am currently working with Framingham State University. There is a great deal of synergy that can be gained by partnering with these two organizations. One of the things that I would like to see would be programs where our Framingham High School and Thayer Academy students can earn college credits during the school year. It would be wonderful if we could work out a situation where FSU professors taught a college level classes at the High School that our students could select instead of AP classes and get instant college credit before they even take the AP exams. It might also give us a way to offer some students the opportunity to take classes in subjects that the High School can’t offer.

Question #5 – Discuss your vision for Framingham for economic-development. Be specific, including Nobscot Plaza, Saxonville lumber yard, Mt Wayte Plaza, and downtown Framingham. Feel free to discuss the Golden Triangle and Tech Park too.

The empty shopping plaza situations are very frustrating. Large supermarket chains have locked up two of properties with very lucrative long-term leases. The economy has also structurally changed and we have a 20% office vacancy rate in MetroWest and bricks and mortar stores are closing faster than new ones are opening. Independent restaurants are struggling despite a healthy economy; and most sit-down restaurant chains require a particular traffic dynamic that at least two of these locations don’t provide.

Unless the individual property owners voluntarily do something, there is nothing we can force them to do. Eminent domain is not a tool that would work here—it would tie us up in court for years, cost a fortune and still not get things redeveloped.

I have asked Town Counsel to investigate whether federal anti-trust laws would apply to the real estate lockups. That is something we should continue to look at. However, that too will take years to resolve.

Currently there are two dense apartment complexes proposed for the Nobscot and Mt. Wayte plazas. We need to keep the Nobscot plaza owner and the proposed Mt. Wayte plaza developer engaged with town/city officials and the neighbors in order to reach a neighborhood agreeable solution while the economy remains healthy. Once the economy enters its next cyclical downturn; even current options may no longer be viable.

I believe that our economic development programs lack teeth. Framingham should be determining the types of businesses that we want to locate here and then scour the region or nation to find entities or industries that meet the requirements. We then need to aggressively market our attributes to them. We have a variety of tools available to us and we need to use them pragmatically in order to get the community we deserve.

I have been very frustrated with how fragmented our economic development processes are and also want to see much broader thinking and more aggressive activity to recruit new businesses here.

Additionally, we need to develop better relationships with the companies already here to make sure they stay and expand in Framingham.

Question #6 – Framingham is home to several major businesses, but it also has many small businesses within its borders. How can the city of Framingham be more responsive to the business community? What steps would you recommend?

We need to do a complete overhaul of all of our permitting processes. We have a commercial tax rate that is nearly triple that of Natick AND we charge higher fees for many permits. This is completely unacceptable. We need to streamline the process so that the applicants have to fill out the same information only once, regardless of the departments they are applying to. We also have to speed up the inspection process as commercial construction and new businesses are coming on-line.

We need a single liaison who can help an entity get all of their necessary permits. Things are too fragmented at the moment and that is unacceptable.

City leaders also need to have regular meetings with the business community to learn about their current needs and how best we can help them. There should be separate meetings with small businesses and major enterprises as each have many distinctive needs.

Framingham also has to address the difference between our commercial tax rate and those of neighboring communities. We need to find way to offer more value added services to these entities to help compensate for the differences.

Businesses are also adversely impacted by our high water and sewer rates and how we set up our billing Tiers. This is something that also needs to be researched.

The only way that we will continue to meet the changing needs of our business community is by having regular communication with them. I would like to see two separate business roundtables established. One would consist of our small and medium size business owners and the other would be for executives of our larger enterprises.

We are in a rapidly changing economy and the only way we can successfully serve these entities is to understand in real-time the challenges that they are facing. We need to partner with our businesses to benefit everyone in our new city.

 Question #7 – Do you think Framingham is family friendly? Yes. Why or why not?
Ido think Framingham is family friendly; but I believe we need to do more. The fact that School Choice has adversely affected neighborhoods means that many families who only live a short distance apart don’t even have the opportunity to meet each other. This means there are smaller pools of kids to play together in the neighborhood and fewer childcare opportunities. I would like to see more neighborhoods develop informal associations like we have in my neighborhood. We have a huge Halloween party, ladies book group, a diversity pot luck and other family-friendly events that are organized by volunteers. I would be more than willing to help any neighborhood organize something similar.

Framingham offers great amenities with parks, playgrounds, beaches, Loring Arena and the new skate park that will be opening soon. However, Mary Dennison Park is still closed due to contaminated soil and we need more recreation opportunities for children and families in that area of town. I also believe as we move forward with the redesign of that critical asset that it is imperative that we hold multiple meetings with the people who live in the neighborhood so that we can build the park that they want.

We have great sports opportunities for kids and many enrichment programs at the High School.

I would like to see a splash pad, dog park and other family friendly amenities. Our library offers some great programming for youth, but we’re not offering many things for families to do together.

I would love to see a Recreation Events Committee formed by our new government where volunteers could work together to come up with some city-wide family friendly events.

I also don’t like the fact that in order to get reasonably priced groceries, Framingham families have to go to Market Basket in Ashland or Hudson. That is a hardship that I would like to see rectified.

Question #8 – In the last 18 months, the Danforth museum and art school was evicted from its home of decades, Fountain Street was closed to the public and the Fountain Street Fine Arts gallery along with many Fountain Street artists have left Framingham. How would you support the arts in Framingham as a city councilor?

 I am currently working with the Danforth Museum Director and Trustees to find a way to save the museum and keep it in Framingham. I will continue to work on these types of efforts as a city councilor. The Danforth offers high-quality art classes to our community and owns a highly-valued collection. Losing this wonderful community asset would be a heartbreaking.I also believe that the fees we charge for student activities in our schools inhibits some of our students from being able to participate in arts activities. I am currently working with school committee members and school administration to see what we can do to eliminate these fees so that our students are more able to participate in the arts. The way our current fee system works we have one group of families subsidizing the activities of another group and that is wrong. Each child should have the ability to explore their talents and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

I feel that the arts are very important to the lives of individuals and our society as a whole. What a world be like without music in it? Or art? Or other entertainment? A world where individuals don’t have an opportunity to express their creative abilities is not a world I want to live in.

 

Question #9 – Do you feel there is waste in the Framingham municipal budget? If so, please site specific areas where you would reduce funding.

 I do believe there are some inefficiencies in our budget. Our energy costs are higher than they need to be due to a lack of coordination of conservation efforts. Additionally, we have over 200 vehicles for a city that is only 25 square miles. We need to examine how we use vehicles and how often we replace them.I would also like to see an initiative put in place that rewards employees for pointing out areas where we can save money. If we could have stronger interdepartmental collaboration, I believe we would eliminate some redundancies and enhance overall cost-effectiveness.

I would also like to see stronger use of technology in some departments. Not only would we save person-hours, we could also provide better service to our residents and businesses.

Question #10 – As one of only 3 individuals who will be elected city-wide, how will you work to make sure that Framingham is united and not 9 individual districts? Give specifics.

The first thing I would like to see happen is council members and the mayor get together the week of the election to start getting to know each other better personally. Knowing someone better and what their concerns and priorities are will help us start working from a position of mutual respect.

I also think that we need to hold regular public forums where people from different districts can come together to share their concerns with each other and the council and mayor. We need to strongly engage the public in the process of governing if we are going to truly represent them. We also need to create opportunities for people throughout the city to interact in casual and recreational settings.

I will work very hard to make sure that we all work together as one city and not nine separate ones.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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