Framingham District 4 City Council Candidate: Amanda Page Shepard

District 4 City Council candidate Amanda Page Shepard

District 4 is Precincts 6 and 9

Age:  42

Occupation: Research Scientist

Years lived in Framingham: 21 years combined

Family (optional): John “Radar” Shepard = Father; Crystal Shepard = First Mother; Margareth Shepard = Second Mother; Plus extended family

Municipal experience: No prior political experience

 Volunteerism: ACLU of Northern California; Merritt College Aesthetic Pruning Club; countless, lifelong engagement with volunteer events and activism

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

I genuinely listen to everyone’s point of view. I genuinely care about all our residents. I have deep roots in our community. I enjoy working with people, even when it’s challenging. I have great support and perseverance. I am accessible and tireless in my advocacy for being the best City we can possibly be.

In less than 100 words, describe your district: Our District 4 is comprised of the former Precincts 6 and 9. We have roughly 5000 voting residents and contain the Golden Mile, aka the Golden Triangle: important commercial areas of Rt. 30 and Rt. 9. Our borders embrace the old Hastings and Juniper Hill Schools, and we share a border with both Walsh and Dunning Schools. The Sudbury River flows along our shores. We are a diverse, multicultural, and vibrant community with above-average political engagement.

Website or Facebook page link: Facebook @electamandashepard

 

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? Rarely.

What business is needed in your district? Entrepreneurs.

What amenity is lacking in your district? Biergarten.

Should Framingham become a sanctuary city? Depends.

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

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

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? No.

What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Gallagher Park

What is your favorite place in your district? (just one): Simpson Park

 

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 some very concerning infrastructure issues, including our roads and sidewalks in various neighborhoods being unsafe and becoming ruins. We need to invest in road improvements that will benefit pedestrians and bicycles, and envision new paths to create interconnectivity at a much larger scale. I’m even envisioning a public bus service that doubles as a way to transport students, and we could do that regionally as well.

In fact, if we really think about regional transportation, we must consider the North/South rail link and the new tunnel boring technology. To address traffic: The fewer cars, the better. From the lens of our role as a regional Hub, we depend on our state and federal government to help provide the funds for these projects.

 

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?

This is a moving target. Didn’t we just find a bunch of money in the school budget simply through efficiency and streamlining processes? Elimination of waste creates value.

 

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.

Traffic is made of cars. Mostly cars. Reduce the cars, reduce the traffic.

Add flashing lights to alert drivers that a pedestrian just engaged the cross signal at specific intersections to protect pedestrians from traffic. Ask people to drive more carefully. Give the people in neighboring communities that drive through on shortcuts another option through advocacy of regional rail. Support change of the existing commuter rail to include smaller trains with more frequent service. Expand public bus service.

Build a tram or monorail around the Golden Triangle region. Improve that entire area for better pedestrian navigation. Advocate for creating connection between separate parcels throughout the parking areas of that whole commercial district. All these proposals reduce traffic. Connect it all to the bigger picture.

 

 

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?

Open space creates value through economic rent. It should be preserved as much as possible.

 

QUESTION #5 – Your district includes the Golden Triangle. Discuss your vision of economic development for that area.

It’s about strategic vision and increasing engagement for more than just cars. We need to make it an even more friendly and fun destination. For every development proposal that is put in front of me, I will ask: how does this (private) development give back to the community? I am advocating for having more urban forest and good aesthetics which will increase value for all. We have neglected our roads and infrastructure too long, and that needs to change. I also understand our commercial tax rate is too high to really be competitive. A decrease from $40 to $25/$1000 valuation has been proposed, so however we can make that work is a worthy endeavor. We should welcome new business and work with them to create value for our whole community. All of these investments should create value for all stakeholders.

 

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?

I will work well with them. I like business people because they are competitive and focused on their goals. They are willing to negotiate and collaborate for our shared vision. Corporate partners are a huge benefit to our community and often employ residents. Corporate partners contribute charitably to community enrichment. Corporate partners provide internships and scholarships. They promote and encourage public art. Their employees often spend money in our local economy.

 

QUESTION #7 – Do you support medical marijuana dispensaries in your district? Why or Why not?

Maybe the burned-down Colonial Path Village would be a good site for a medical marijuana dispensary. I believe there used to be a kind of medical marijuana facility near the Rt 126/ Rt 30 intersection.

 

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 need safe roads! I know I keep bringing up our roads, but it is literally our Number #1 issue that I can whole-heartedly advocate for. My background in landscape design and construction and urban planning is all relevant here. As far as police-related public safety, one truth about urban communities is the more people who are out and about increases the safety. People need to feel comfortable being outside in their community, and for what I’ve seen, they generally do. Framingham is safe as long as our “local” police continue to protect and serve all of our residents…“bad guys” getting caught by the “good guys” is part of this service. I trust our Police Chief Ken Ferguson to continue leading the fine work of our Framingham Police Department.

 

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?

Generally speaking, people consider Framingham family-friendly. It’s a huge reason why many families have chosen Framingham as their home. In this election, I have heard a not-insignificant number of people echoing the sentiment that they do not want more housing in Framingham because our schools cannot afford more children in our community. This sentiment breaks my heart. Every parent knows you never really have enough money to raise children, but somehow, families do manage when they are bound together with love. For families who have never felt that, you know you have enough money to share, and I encourage you to donate even more to charitable endeavors, if it is truly within your heart and your means to do so. The best way to make our District more inviting to families is by current families initiating and participating in neighborhood activities. Examples from District 4 include: family lemonade stand to raise money for a new church,
decorating streets with flags, local community groups, like Transition Framingham, developing events to engage local families. When I was growing up here, we had the Pumpkin Fair. That was a really fun family activity. The schools put on shows. More community theater would be lovely. Bands and musicians and community groups with city employees, volunteers, and residents and neighbors all coming together to participate in the Mayor’s Annual Fourth of July Parade. Families from all around our community going to Fireworks at Cushing later on in that Fourth of July evening to celebrate a kind of MetroFest.

 

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? 

It’s absurd any of those things happened. Building codes need to be enforced and landowners held accountable. I would love to see abandoned buildings truly transform into stable artist enclaves, and obviously our government has to do a better job protecting and nurturing our artists. We should consider how to create more artist neighborhoods, which vacant buildings would make sense. That concept can take many forms.

There’s always the Islandopoly plaza idea…and community art projects like painting public structures, or walls into murals. The more art we can infuse in our lives the more grateful we will be as a community.

 

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.

I listen to everyone. People can always contact me. It’s important that we find ways to include everyone.

The locked apartment complexes create a difficult situation for political canvasing. I would advocate emergency personnel and ballot-certified candidates be granted access to otherwise locked apartment complexes. It’s important to advocate and listen.

 

QUESTION #12: How will you get residents in your neighborhood more involved in their community? Give specifics.

One way is by requiring that currently locked apartment complexes be available to emergency services and political candidates only, not their volunteers. It’s nice to visit pool and BBQ areas. We could advocate that all community developments include social gathering spots. The Fourth of July is an excellent holiday for celebrating with friends and neighbors in such a setting. I think we should approach this issue of engagement by remembering how we naturally organize in the context of schools: parents tend to be more involved with PTO in younger years, but by high school, our communities have organized by interest. Community Outreach in Framingham is coordinated by subject areas of interest and leaders and friends in groups. Basically, my strategy is to be a part of as many of these groups as possible, and contribute to overall synergy to accomplish our common goals, and mostly have fun doing it.

 

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?

How about a Fourth of July parade and fireworks party for starters? That is by far my favorite proposal on how to bring the nine districts together. It’s not that we don’t have other pressing issues. It’s more that we can have it all. I can’t think of a better way to bring our entire community together than to celebrate this very special day with a parade. We already have a parade executive committee and contributing best practices from other similarly sized and culturally diverse city parades. I’m also consistently advocating for better roads and sidewalks, crosswalks and intersections, so I would encourage everyone to get acquainted with the
“SeeClickFix” app where individual areas in need of improvement can be logged.

 

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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