Framingham District 1 City Council Candidate Joseph Norton

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, September 17, Voters in District 1 will participate in a preliminary election. There will be three names on the ballot for District 1 City Council. The incumbent is not seeking re-election. SOURCE sent questionnaires to all three candidates. All three candidates returned them. District 1 is comprised of Precincts 1 & 2.

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Joe Norton

Age: 51

Which pronoun do you prefer? he/him

Occupation: Real Estate Agent

Years lived in Framingham: I am a life-long resident – 51 Years

Family (optional): I have two wonderful kids. My son Shea is 25 and my daughter Hanna is 15

Municipal experience: 
 Planning Board Member (appointed by Mayor Spicer)
 Zoning Board of Appeals Associate Member (appointed by the former Board of Selectmen)
 Framingham City-Wide PTO Co-President
 Hemenway Elementary School PTO Past President
 Walsh Middle School PTO Past Vice President
 Founded Framingham’s Adolescent Mental Health Task Force
 Former Town Meeting Member for Precinct 2
 Former member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety


In less than 250 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a City Councilor?


As your City Councilor, my door will be open to you. I will be accountable to you. I have a proven track record of working openly and cooperatively with our community, local businesses, and the government to achieve the best for our neighborhood and our city. With my background in real estate, zoning, and planning, I will work with the Mayor and the rest of City Council to encourage “smart growth”.

The future of Nobscot and other underutilized properties is of vital concern to District 1, and to all of Framingham. With your help, we’ll work to balance redevelopment, encouraging thriving local businesses that benefit our neighborhoods. Growing our economic base grows money for our schools and quality of life. It will help keep Framingham affordable. Seniors can stay in their homes. Young families can put down roots in
our neighborhoods.

I am uniquely qualified to be your City Councilor. I am the candidate who builds consensus to move us forward. I have lived in District 1 my entire life and raised my children here. I was raised here with my six brothers (my poor mother). You are my friends and neighbors. Together we will move forward for Framingham.

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

politics

Do you support the budget approved by the City Council in June, including the increase for the schools? (yes or no) Yes

Should there be a moratorium on apartments in Framingham? (yes or no)
No

Would you vote to fund the new police patrolmen’s union contract? (yes or no) Yes

Do you support the Mayor’s decision to award the Nobscot Chapel to Andy Rose the owner of the Nobscot Plaza? (yes or no)  No

Would you vote to override the Mayor’s veto on the appointment ordinance (yes or no) Yes

Should the City purchase the Perini Building as its new City Hall? (yes or no)
Yes

If yes, what would you do with the Memorial Building in downtown Framingham?

I would start by reaching out to the community- both the residents and the businesses- to solicit their ideas. It could make a great location for the arts, as well as businesses. Imagine a performing theater in Nevins Hall, with small boutique stores, art galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops in the surrounding “offices”. We could combine businesses with non-profits.
There would be room for meeting spaces. It would be an ideal community center.

Which City Council subcommittee would you wish to serve on?

I’d first like to see what the makeup of the council is and use my skills where needed but my primary interests would be:
 Planning & Zoning
 Economic Development
 Education


Should all city notices go out in 3 languages – just like Framingham Public School notices? ( yes or no) Yes

Would you continue to serve on the Framingham Planning Board, if elected a City Councilor? No


QUESTION #1: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?

As I have met with the residents in District 1, you have told me your concerns about affordability and taxes. I share your concerns. We have excellent services, including our great schools. Unfortunately, our taxes have increased significantly over the past 15 years to pay for these services. There are many facets to this issue, but one that we can work on immediately is eliminating waste.

As your city councilor, I will work to locate and eliminate waste and redundancy in our government. We need to hold department heads accountable in the same way that the residents should hold the Mayor and the Council accountable. I firmly believe that we can cut the budget by 10% we could find a way to provide the same services to the community. We need accountability and transparency in our city Government

QUESTION #2: 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?

Overall, Framingham is a safe community, but we have areas which need more work. We have a great, professional police force, particularly, the officers who are out on the streets. I come from a law enforcement family.
One of my brothers was a Framingham police officer for 34 years. However, we have two serious issues with our police force, which are related. We have a serious moral issue. That feeds into our understaffing problem. We are understaffed – with over 20 openings and more coming. We are losing the officers we trained to other communities and to the state police. I recognize that safe communities require more than law enforcement- it requires building inclusive communities, with police as part of that community. To build the connection between the police and the communities, I would encourage returning to the beat cops. Get the officers out from behind the dark tinted windows and on to the street, on foot, bikes, Segways. Expand on the Framingham Night Out program. Create neighborhood activities where residents and officers can meet face to face. The more we know each other, the easier it is to work together.

QUESTION #3: Residents in District 1 complain about the traffic on Edgell Road and Water Street. Is the Traffic Commission making a difference in Framingham? Why or Why not?

The Traffic Commission is a great idea, but it needs more support and more input. As the residents who travel the streets, we have a combined knowledge of the problems and have ideas for alleviating the traffic. All of us have spent plenty of time sitting in traffic thinking about improvements. I would encourage the Commission to reach out to the residents, and perhaps even have meetings in different neighborhoods.

Once the Commission has the input, we need the follow through. As a city
councilor, I encourage them to utilize the tools and powers given to them in the Charter, and will work with the mayor and the police to see that their proposals are implemented. My experience on the zoning board, the planning board, and in other volunteer positions has proven to me that we are our best when we work together with input from the residents. We can do that with traffic.

QUESTION #4: What ordinance would you file to improve your district (or city- wide) if elected? Why?

It is not just a question of one ordinance, it is a matter of the tenor of our city. We are perfectly positioned to be the leading community in Metrowest.
Framingham is home to not only international companies, but local small businesses. We need to rid Framingham of its anti-business reputation by helping our small businesses thrive, and encourage new ones to start and grow here, while they create jobs and provide vital services to our
neighborhoods. Growing our economic base is money for our schools and improving of quality of life. It will help keep Framingham affordable so seniors can stay in their homes, and encourage young people to put down roots in our neighborhoods.

QUESTION #5: The executive branch and the legislative branches of government in the City of Framingham is the Mayor and the 11-member City Council. Give 3 specific ways the two branches of government can work collaboratively to improve the City for its residents and/or business owners.

Volunteers: Our strength is in our residents and we are not taking advantage of that strength. I will work with the mayor and other councilors to encourage more participation by our residents. I propose that we have a “volunteer fair” highlighting the many volunteer positions in our community to encourage the participation of current and past volunteers. Make it fun with balloons and games.

Local businesses: We have a strong business community. We need to work with them. I will propose a regular meeting among the executive and
representatives of the council and the business community to work together on what the businesses need.

Break Bread: I propose bi-annual dinners with key members of the executive and all of the council to simply chat- no business to be discussed. We need to break down the barriers and build bridges.


QUESTION #6: Which vote by the City Council, since January 2017, has made a difference in the City? Why? 

The vote on the school committee budget. My daughter is in Framingham
High and I have long been active in our schools. The schools are fundamental to the economic and civic health of our community. We have a
moral obligation to our children, our community, and our future to assure that we have an educated population.

QUESTION #7: What vote by current District 1 City Councilor Charlie Sisitsky do you disagree with and why would you have voted differently?

Charlie Sisitsky has dedicated most of his life to making Framingham a better place. I am proud to call him friend and mentor. My own experience as a voting member of various boards has shown me that you have to be a part of the deliberations to know what you would do. Charlie Sisitsky has me deep admiration and appreciation. Thank you Charlie for all you do for Framingham

QUESTION #8: Would you support the City Council re-zoning the largest parcel of land in Framingham to accommodate more business in the neighborhood? Why or why not?

We need smart growth, not just growth. District 1 is fortunate to have many parcels of open space. We must to do everything we can to ensure these treasures are around for future generations. As a city, we need to explore new policies and incentives for open space preservation.

QUESTION #9: Why business is District 1 missing and how will you help bring that business to the City?

The residents often express interest in a grocery store. There are parcels other than Nobscot Plaza where we could make that happen. I know the stakeholders and the residents. I have the ability to work with all sides with respect.


QUESTION #10: What vote as a Town Meeting member, Zoning Board member or Planning Board member do you regret and why? 

I do not regret any of my votes. In each case, I listened to the applicants, the residents, and others, before making my decision. One of the best things about our participatory democracy, is that we learn from that input. Many projects have evolved and been vastly improved by the thoughts and concerns of the residents. I listen to them respectfully and thoughtfully. We
are better together.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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