At-Large City Council Candidate Sam Mercurio

At-Large City Council Candidate Sam Mercurio

Age: 65
Occupation: Live Sound Engineer
Years lived in Framingham: 62 or 63
Family (optional): Daughter, 28, lives in Andover
Municipal experience: unemcumbered with previous political baggage
Volunteerism: Toastmasters International, American Cancer Society, Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce
In less than 100 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a city councilor?
I have lived and owned on both the South and North sides of Framingham, thus am aware of the issues faced by the entire community. I want to be the “Townie” voice on the Council for our new City. I would like to make Framingham an “Entertainment Destination” once again. Entertainment visitors can make a significant positive economic impact to the new City, from revenue sources like hotel, restaurant, shopping, and additional employment within our borders.

 

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

Name one business that Framingham needs: Entertainment venue

 

Name one amenity Framingham is missing: Entertainment venue

 

How much would you vote to increase (or decrease) the tax levy in your first year of office? Only what is absolutely necessary

 

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? No
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? Depends

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

 

What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Village Green

 

Name one thing you personally did in the last year to improve Framingham: Every year I use my expertise and influence to help present an excellent, free and culturally diverse concert experience to the community for the Concerts on the Green

 

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?

 

Traffic. More efficient distribution of resources will likely be a result of the new form of government. Once accomplished, more funds will be available to address each issue as needed. Traffic is such a multi-headed monster, though, to tackle it means looking at the many underlying causes, seeing if there are additional revenue sources to target specifics (like Federal Grants and programs), and making the changes that give positive results.

There is no “perfection” so we will always have a need to prioritize issues and address them in a manner that doesn’t back us into a fiscal corner. Our residents and businesses don’t want us running to them for more money because the Mayor and Council decided to take on every possible issue on everybody’s mind.

 

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?

 

I say that with the caveat that this can change, depending upon the information provided to the new Mayor/Council by the newly elected School Committee. Since all of this is new, there is no point of reference to make a carved in stone decision. I want to see and hear the opinions of this new group and constituents and weigh this with the decisions and opinions of the new Superintendent. Then, I will discuss this with my fellow Councillors.

 

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? Give the District a chance to improve the visible metrics, especially in the underperforming locations. I will count on the School Committee to provide the Council with data to show what and where improvements can be made, and which of these plans can be introduced most quickly and economically. We will have many experts on the School Committee who can explain to us outside of the academic community their needs and wants, and why these are important for the community at large. I feel it’s also vital that we not discount the importance of the vocational training offered by Keefe Tech to the overall educational experience.

 

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.

 

See my answers above, though I’ll add one thing. Nothing is more aggravating than driving down a “finished” road, then seeing it torn up a week later for another project. I will insist that the different departments coordinate their work project schedules to be sure that a “finished” project is actually finished.

 

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 always been confused as to why the student populations of our schools of higher education remain so isolated from the rest of the community. FSU’s recent partnering with the Danforth may be a positive first step in bridging the gap between the Framingham and FSU communities. FSU’s understandable decision to move their graduation to the DCU in Worcester serves to underscore my feeling of the need for an entertainment venue.

 

As MassBay is a completely commuter school, the impact of their student population is primarily in the service industries. They need to eat and fuel and service their vehicles. As long as those services are convenient to these students and faculty, they will continue to utilize them.

 

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.
Not every vacant location is an eyesore. Sadly, the most visible of these locations is owned by someone with a contentious relationship to the town. Maybe a new leadership group will have better luck in communicating with these various groups of people. I want to see proposals that take into account the concerns of the neighborhood, as well as long term viability. Each must be taken as a case by case situation. None of these are “quick fix” problems, but we’ve made the decision to move forward as a City, for the long term future of Framingham. Thus, we need to be prudent in searching for long term solutions.

 

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?
The new government needs to identify areas where residents can easily access to expand the economic growth. We need to find business and industry that add to our community, not detract from our quality of life. For example, wooing a major manufacturing facility to a large open space on the north side would not be productive for anybody. The same holds for the huge traffic concerns of adding an additional 1,000 cars a day commuting through the downtown area.
That said, we can do much to entice growth through adjustments to the permitting processes necessary for business development. These can be as simple as streamlining the sign permit process.
One of the real positive things about the new form of government is that our Mayor will have a real strong voice to speak to the business community about why they should consider Framingham as their new home.
Question #7 – Do you think Framingham is family friendly? Yes. Why or why not?
We are located close to so many services and opportunities vital to families. What would you do to do make the community more inviting to families? Expansion of some of the offerings through our Parks and Recreation department could create more options for Framingham’s families. This would require an expansion of both the department and subsequent increases to their budget, though.
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?
The arts community has always suffered the fate of economic displacement. They wouldn’t be known as “starving artists” if they were located in the high rent districts! The Danforth Museum’s location was closed because it was no longer “inhabitable” as a public building. This building has been in service in multiple uses for close to 100 years. It is no longer economically viable for repair. The new pairing with FSU is similar to the art museum located on the campus of Colby College in Maine. The Maynard building is a much more centrally located spot for a museum, and will hopefully draw from an increased visitor base. It can become a tourist destination for Framingham. The artist community will seek out other inexpensive alternatives within our borders, if available, or find “distressed” properties and renew them, as has often happened in other communities.
Government can support the arts by offering locations to display their works, allowing them to bid on projects with art included in them, and offering them options on unused town properties that are not “uninhabitable.”
Question #9 – Do you feel there is waste in the Framingham municipal budget? If so, please site specific areas where you would reduce funding.
Probably. Not having access to specific departmental budgets, I can only make my comment based upon the inefficiencies uncovered by the new Superintendent of Schools. If they are there in his department, I’m sure they exist in others.

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.

 

As an At Large Councillor, I will seek out public locations (possibly a restaurant) within each district to hold “office hours” on a published schedule with each district’s residents. Residents will also be able to communicate with me directly about their concerns.

 

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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