Framingham District 5 City Council Candidate: Cheryl Gordon

District 5 City Council candidate Cheryl Gordon

District 5 is Precincts 8 and  12

Age: 45

Occupation: Executive Support

Years lived in Framingham: 45

Family (optional): Mom of two boys, my 9 year old attends McCarthy Elementary and my 14 year old attends Framingham High School

Municipal experience: Framingham School Committee Member April, 2017 – December, 2017
Framingham Town Meeting Member 1997 – 2009
Former Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Public Safety

Volunteerism:  I began serving our community as a teenager when I volunteered at the Framingham Police Department assisting with clerical tasks such as typing detective bureau investigations and entering driving citations into the computer.  I am the Founder of the Chat about the Framingham Public Schools Facebook group that has served as a 24 hours a day school communication resource for school families since 2009 (currently 2,100 members).

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

I believe my combined private sector experience, municipal experience, education, and skills closely align with the role of City Councilor. I attended all Charter Commission meetings, and the process made it clear that Framingham needs new, accountable leadership. I pledge to always act in the best interest of our residents and never to accept campaign money from special interests. I am a lifelong resident and twenty year homeowner in the heart of District 5 with familiarity with many community issues. I am in Framingham 365 days a year, and I’m always just a phone call away at (508) 733-1647.

In less than 100 words, describe your district: District 5 is home to educational institutions including McCarthy, Fuller, Framingham State, and Mass Bay. As a graduate of FPS (K-12), FSU, and currently serving on the Framingham School Committee, it is important to me as a parent, homeowner, and advocate for quality, local education (I also come from a family of educators) that we continue to embrace the great educational system that we have in our neighborhoods. District 5 is also home to Mt Wayte Plaza. The redevelopment of this site is a decade overdue. I commit to working with the council, developer, and neighborhood to get this
done.

Website or Facebook page link: https://www.facebook.com/CherylForCityCouncil5

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? 0

Do you support Framingham State University’s decision to move commencement to Worcester? NO

What business is needed in your district? Restaurant

What amenity is lacking in your district? Restaurant

Do you support keeping Learneds Pond open longer? 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? UNDECIDED

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? UNDECIDED

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): Cushing

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

The first big issue is Mt Wayte Plaza. This was a missed opportunity that ended in a yelling match between a former member of the Selectmen and the land owner, leading to a long expensive court battle. I will always have a compassionate and collaborative approach working with land owners and residents, including proposing creative ideas to “share the risk” with potential developers who’s plans don’t initially align with the zoning or the desires of the community. If developers feel that Framingham is not only willing to be flexible and negotiate on plans, but is willing to be an integral part of their team in seeing their project through to a successful completion and long term prosperity, it will avert potential expensive legal action and build confidence in our government to others who are considering Choosing Framingham for their home or business.

The second big issue in District 5 is traffic. The six year Union Ave project is part of the reason for the traffic. With several years left of this project, I would like to re-look at the overall plan and see if there are any adjustments that could be made to alleviate some of the daily backups.

 

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?

 

As a Framingham School Committee Member, I support creating non-classroom related efficiencies so that the savings can be redirected back to education in the classroom, teachers, and children, to provide even more comprehensive support of our students. Once our new government is rolled out, school budget increases should only take place after all possible non-classroom related efficiencies and consolidations have been implemented.

Our new Superintendent, with some direction from the school committee, has begun the process of streamlining the central office, saving $250,000 in central administration over the last few months. However, I believe we also need to look at consolidating other non-classroom functions under the new government. For example, the city and school side have two different HR departments and two different sets of support staff, two Technology departments, two different tv production systems, two different business offices with two different sets of support staff, etc. This requires multiple phone systems, having staff driving to multiple places, and the cost of maintaining multiple office spaces. While there still will need to be specialists on both the school and city side, perhaps we can physically
consolidate office space, resources, and support staff through attrition and then move that money back to into the classrooms where it belongs.

 

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?

 

A significant portion of the traffic is due to perpetual construction projects and also detours. Each detour in town creates new traffic patterns, creates new cut throughs, and disrupts the quality of life of those affected. I think it’s critical that the new council look at the master long term plan of roadway improvement projects together with our department heads to see if there are any opportunities to better coordinate projects.

 

QUESTION #4 – What is your view of open space vs economic development in Framingham?

 

I’m a supporter of green space and open space whenever possible. I also believe that private landowners, within reason, should be able to build their business, if zoning and safety allows. When zoning or safety doesn’t allow, I believe our new government should work closely with landowners as a team, not as adversaries. The more we do this, the more inviting it will be for other businesses that offer conveniences and amenities to come forward and Choose Framingham.

 

QUESTION #5 – Your district includes Framingham State University. What role should the University play in the community? How will you work with the University to make sure they are community partners with the City of Framingham?

I am a graduate of Framingham State University and am glad I was able to attend school close to home and have access to a good, local job while in school. We have a unique situation where students can get an excellent education right here in Framingham and also have access to many quality jobs both during their education and upon graduation. I feel strongly that the city should assign a liaison to work with the university to grow the relationship. If elected to City Council for District 5, it would be my pleasure to work as a team with the District 5 School Committee member and the university leadership to maximize the relationship with this amazing educational resource in the heart of our community.

 

 

QUESTION #6 – Your district also includes Bowditch Field? Do you think the facility is underused or overused? If under used, what type of events do you see at Bowditch?

Bowditch is underused. The taxpayers made a significant investment in upgrading this facility and we should ensure we are maximizing the return on their investment. I would like to work together with the council to brainstorm opportunities where we could use this facility to bring some exciting and revenue generating events to the city, such as concerts (can we bring back the Blues event?), professional soccer games, and movie nights multiple times during the summer. The annual movie night is a great time and well organized by our hard working Parks and Rec department, but we should do more. The city should do a cost analysis and determine how much revenue would need to be raised to offset the cost of wear and tear/repairs so that this would be a better utilized, cost/revenue neutral amenity to the residents.

 

QUESTION #7 – Your district also includes the Callahan Center. Framingham has a large percentage of those over the age of 55. How will you make sure seniors have access to the center and its programming? How will you work with the mayor and the rest of the Council to support the senior community in Framingham?

District 5 is home to Framingham’s only Senior Center. In the last year, Framingham has seen the approval and beginning construction of two large over-55 housing complexes. There will likely be even more such complexes in the coming years. I would like to see Framingham’s new city government pro-actively prepare to ensure that services, amenities, transportation, and various levels of support are available and accessible to all Framingham older individuals who are interested in participating. I believe these services should be available 7 days a week, not just Monday – Friday or during business hours. I will work with the council and mayor to come up with a plan for outreach, including calling joint quarterly meetings with our Senior Center leadership and property managers of all over-55 housing complexes, to ensure the lines of communication stay open and that we all work together for the best interest of older individuals. The city should also do more
advertising and outreach to our older residents about the programs that are available and how to access transportation or support to participate.

 

 

QUESTION #8 -Do you think Framingham is a safe community? Why or why not? How will you work with the mayor and the police department to make sure Framingham has a good quality of life?

Framingham is a safe community, but could be even safer. I would support efforts to move towards more community policing. I am a strong advocate for Public Safety, and during my many years as Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Public Safety, I always advocated for ensuring our police and fire departments had the latest and greatest and safest equipment and earned a fair wage for the dangerous work they do. I will continue to advocate for a responsibility staffed, educated, and equipped public safety division.

 

 

QUESTION #9 – Describe your role as city council with the business community in your district and in the City of Framingham.

 

I support responsible commercial growth and our Framingham employers. We need to work hard to keep successful businesses here and also to work together with businesses that are struggling to support their efforts to grow their business. There is no better convenience than having good quality jobs near home, and the employees of these businesses shop at other local businesses keeping our local economy strong. I have worked in the corporate world for 24 years and have an understanding and multi-faceted perspective on how to maintain these critical relationships. I hope to bring this experience to the City Council.

 

QUESTION #10 – Do you think Framingham is family friendly? Why or why not? What would you do to do make the community more inviting to families? What can be done in your district?

Framingham has become more family friendly, but we still have a long way to go. I would like to see more amenities, more events, more concerts, and I believe the city should actively recruit family friendly establishments to come to Framingham.

 

QUESTION #11 – 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?

One of my happiest memories of my childhood was taking wheel throwing classes at the Danforth Museum on Union Ave. We need to ensure that the arts are strong in Framingham. We should invest in the arts in our schools and partner with local community colleges and the university to be able to offer even more options to families including workshops and other ways to get residents interested in the arts.

 

QUESTION #12 – How will you make sure that residents in your neighborhood have a voice in the new City of Framingham, if elected? Give specifics.

 

I have already begun receiving email addresses from my constituents and I send out a periodic newsletter letting them know what meetings are coming up that might interest them. I would love to grow my distribution list and I welcome people from my district and other districts to send me their email address to be added to my newsletter distribution list. Please send to CGordon09@comcast.net.

 

QUESTION #13 – How will you get residents in your neighborhood more involved in their community? Give specifics.

For the last couple years, I have regularly spent time with friends, neighbors, and constituents/residents of District 5 at the Dunkin Donuts on Franklin Street on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Before the city charter passed, we discussed the pros and cons of it passing. After it passed, we have spoken about what that means to our residents as well as our concerns or worries. I look forward to continuing this tradition of having an open dialogue with residents and customizing my service to the district based on feedback from those who live here. I also hope to expand these informal coffee chats to other locations in and around District 5.

 

 

QUESTION #14 – 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?

I began the process of working with other district councilors the moment I decided to run for City Council. I have had many conversations and coffees with candidates from all over town. I have offered advice, suggestions, campaign ideas, and shared my thoughts and listened to theirs on a variety of issues facing Framingham. My goal has been to develop great working relationships with all candidates in advance of the election so that we will already have a comfortable and friendly rapport starting on day one. I believe it’s easier to work and collaborate with others after getting to know each other or correcting misconceptions you may have about one another. People in general are more likely to phrase their comments or requests in a compassionate way when they have a pre-existing cordiality. Conversely, people are more likely to come to compromise on important matters when they better understand the perspective of those with varying viewpoints,
which can only be done by developing a rapport beforehand. I welcome any/all candidates, inside or outside of my district, to reach out to me anytime, with the #1 goal of working together to provide responsive, top notch, service to our community.

 

 

 

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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