At-Large City Council Candidate Sam Mercurio
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
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?
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 #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.