FRAMINGHAM – On Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day, Framingham voters will select one Republican, one Democrat, and possibly one Libertarian to appear on the November ballot. Voters in Precincts (not City Districts) 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15 will see no names on any of those three ballots however. With the death of Rep. Walsh in May there was not time for any candidate to gather signatures and appear on the ballot. Thus, every candidate that wants the 6th Middlesex state representative seat must run a write-in campaign.
There are five candidates who have announced write-in campaigns – four Democrats and one Republican. The Democrats are Mary Kate Feeney, Mike Gatlin, Maria Robinson, and Mark Tilden. The Republican is Tom Blandford. The individuals who receives the most votes in any party ballot (minimum of 150 votes) will appear on the November ballot. In Framingham, as in the state, the majority of registered voters are unenrolled, which means they have no party affiliation. Unenrolled voters may choose a Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian ballot on Tuesday, Sept 4 and write in the candidate of their choice. The announced Democratic candidates are encouraging voters to pull a Democratic ballot and write their name, and the Republican candidate is encouraging unenrolled voters to pull a Republican ballot and write his name.
Source asked the write-in state representative candidates a series of questions, earlier this month. Each day this week and last week, the answers to the questions are being published to help voters make a choice.
Today’s question — Massachusetts’ economy is strong. But in the City of Framingham there are empty store fronts and empty plazas. As a state representative, what can you do to help the City achieve economic growth?
FEENEY: Right now there are properties that are not living up to their potential and to what the neighbors have a right to expect. Even our Downtown has not been revitalized in a way that is responsive to Framingham’s diverse needs. Together we can work to redevelop and improve properties in our community that are underutilized and are creating a drag on our neighborhoods and our overall economic well-being.
We see a crane in Downtown Framingham – but it is building part of the 2,000 new apartment units going into the area, not new space for innovative companies, entertainment centers or artist studio space. Apartments have a place in a community, as a home for young professionals or empty nesters. But we need to also focus on how we attract businesses to start and grow in Framingham, provide jobs for our residents and resources for our city services.
Right now, the Marlborough Economic Development and Industrial Corporation is eating our lunch. Opportunities and businesses have passed us by for other communities, like Marlborough and Waltham. Working with our city and business leaders, I will work to change that.
As our full-time representative, I will bring my knowledge of Framingham to obtain the state support that Framingham needs. We need that advocate who can identify grants, investments and programs that will grow our economic base and help tell the Framingham story to potential businesses, encouraging them to come to our community. I will work with the city government and all interested parties in an open collaborative process, a visionary charrette, to develop plans that reflect our values and meet our needs.
Working with local business owners, I will work to address their concerns and to make changes on a state level that encourage businesses to flourish here and throughout the Commonwealth.
GATLIN: As a State Representative, I would work closely with Senate President Spilka to bring infrastructure dollars and tax incentives to Framingham to create more economic opportunities in our downtown and to revitalize now vacant shopping centers.
TILDEN: Force landlords to actively promote or market their properties or impose a blight tax and give the money to seniors for tax relief.
Give financial incentives to landlords who pay for build outs and enter into long term leases with new retail businesses.
ROBINSON: One great opportunity that state representatives have is to work with representatives from cities and towns so we can learn what worked and what didn’t for them.
When it comes to empty store fronts, I see Arlington as a success story, having significantly reduced the number of empty stores in its downtown area. I have a meeting set up with the town manager’s office in Arlington to talk about how they attracted new small and medium-sized businesses to the downtown area.
BLANDFORD: My business experience in the marketing field has taught me that you reward businesses that are willing to build and grow in your city and you punish those that are not.
We need to make sure that businesses that are willing to build here are not punished by raising their taxes but instead be given a tax break.
Editor’s Note: The candidates were given 500 words or less for a response. The responses are published below, as received, unless they went over 500 words, and then the news site cut the answer at the sentence closest to 500 words.