Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, September 17, Voters in District 5 will participate in a preliminary election. There will be three names on the ballot for District 5 City Council. Voters will sect one individual to replace incumbent Dennis Giombetti. SOURCE sent questionnaires to all three candidates. All three candidates returned them. District 5 is comprised of Precincts 8 & 12
Which pronoun do you prefer? He/Him/His
Occupation: Substitute teacher with a focus on Special Education in the towns of Needham, Wellesley, and Natick
Years lived in Framingham: Approximately 18. I was born here, graduated from Framingham South High (Class of ‘87!), was stationed in numerous locations during my military career, and have been back full time since 2012.
Family (optional): I am a proud father of two children. And my dog Fanny.
● District 5 School Committee Member
● Chair, School Committee’s Digital Infrastructure Subcommittee
● Member, School Committee Subcommittees on Accountability and Student
Achievement; Facilities; and Racial Equity
● Member, School Building Committee for the Fuller Middle School Building Project
In less than 250 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a City Councilor?
I have a proven record of collaboration and am proud of the role I played with the first group of city officials to transition our town form of government to a city. As a retired veteran, serving our country for 25 years in the Army Reserves, including two tours of active duty, I know first hand the importance of teamwork and listening, especially during times of change and uncertainty.
During my military career it was imperative to work as a team because lives depended on it. I’ve continued to work in that same vein as an educator, and in my current role on the School Committee.
During my tenure on the School Committee, I have supported a zero based budgeting process to ensure our school department is fiscally responsible and transparent. I have been part of efforts to feed every child, fund infrastructure, expand WiFi at no additional cost, keep MassBay from moving out of the city, support our educators and staff, and make progress on gaps such as equity, fiscal reporting, communications, and long-term strategic planning.
One of my proudest achievements is serving on the School Building Committee, and working on the successful “Yes for Fuller” campaign. We are now building a new school in our district! With your support on Tuesday, September 17th I will work hard over the next seven weeks to earn your vote on Election Day November 5th. I am ready to lead, set to cooperate and get things done for you and Framingham.
Political Website or Facebook page link:
Do you support the budget approved by the City Council in June, including the increase for the schools? (yes or no) Yes
Would you vote to fund the new police patrolmen’s union contract? (yes or no) Yes
Would you vote to override the Mayor’s veto on the appointment ordinance (yes or no) No
Should there be a moratorium on apartments in Framingham? (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?
Keep historic Nevins Hall for events and concerts, keep the Blumer Room for government meetings, and keep the customer service facing offices such as the City Clerk open in the current location. Then, I propose we tear down the rest of the building to both save money on operating costs and renovations, and create dozens of new parking spaces to address that gap.
Which City Council subcommittee would you wish to serve on?
The Education Subcommittee and the Appointments Subcommittee. I have already proposed that the City Council create a new Veterans and Military Families Subcommittee to support the great work the Veterans Services Office does for those who have earned benefits due to their service to our nation. I hope I get the chance to make a motion to create this new
Should City offices close early on Fridays? (yes or no) Yes (as long as the current hours remaining open later one evening remain to balance customer services)
Do you support longer hours for the Callahan Center? (yes or no) Yes
Should all city notices go out in 3 languages – just like Framingham Public School notices? ( yes or no) Yes
QUESTION #1: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing
the city? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
Traffic is the biggest issue facing Framingham. It is not only a quality of life issue, but an environmental issue.
Our neighborhoods are clogged during the morning and evening commutes. Expanding our investment in traffic calming equipment such as digital feedback signs, such as the one found on Warren Road, rapid flash beacons and flex posts, will help reduce accidents in vulnerable areas in
District 5 and around Framingham. This way we keep our residents safe.
As Councilor, I will seek resources for the DPW to bring in pertinent parties, including traffic engineers, to help us find ways to synchronize traffic lights in key areas during rush hour to alleviate congestion and reduce idling and emissions.
Public transportation is also key in reducing traffic. I would like to see the MWRTA (MetroWest Regional Transit Authority) pilot a limited Saturday service from Framingham to Woodland MBTA station, in addition to their service Monday through Friday. In addition, I would like to see the MWRTA to extend their service to Sundays and to 10 p.m. on weekdays with the last bus leaving the Route 9 shopping areas at 9:30 p.m. which would accommodate many retail workers.
As a cyclist who has been biking across the district for 75% of my door to door campaigning, I believe another priority for our roadways is adding and improving bike lanes. Encouraging the use of non-automobile transportation gives people options to ditch their cars, and get around Framingham by bike.
QUESTION #2: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing your
district? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
When discussing traffic and transportation in Framingham, you cannot avoid the topic of the flooding issues in The Junction of Route 126 and Route 9. Every time there is a downpour, flooding is all but guaranteed in that intersection. I certainly cannot ride my bike in the area!
It is dangerous and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs to focus on fixing the problem, since it is a state roadway.
In March 2017, Massachusetts approved a design phase for improvements to the intersection. The nearby MassDOT-owned salt shed needs to be relocated before work in the area can begin. The salt shed won’t be relocated until 2020 or 2021. Work to address the drainage issue will begin after the shed is moved, but there is no firm date when that will
As the Councilor from District 5, I will be laser focused on this issue, working with the Mayor, State Representatives Lewis, Robinson and Gentile and Senator Spilka to make sure this issue remains a priority for MassDOT. Collaboration and keeping it on the front of concern for the state is key to finally solving the issue of flooding in this area of District 5.
QUESTION #3: 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?
I do feel that overall we are safe, yet in this day and age I understand the
uncertainty as well as the need to ensure government is doing all we can. Public safety and protecting citizens must be the top priority for any government leader.
As the only candidate for City Council with military experience I could
end up being the only military voice, replacing Navy Veteran Michael Rossi from District 6 who decided not to run again. With those unique experiences I see things through a different lens and focus much on ways through a chain of command government can create a legitimate sense of security and comfort level for our residents.
If elected, I will spend the time to review the Police and Fire Department’s
budgets, collaborate with the Mayor to tour their facilities and meet with the Chiefs, all in my own attempt to be an advocate for their needs so every single resident in our community has the full confidence that when you call for help, help will be there.
The quality of life question is a bit different from a public safety focused answer. I want Framingham to continue to be a community that is attractive to all ages. The youth and college community. Millennials. Families. Baby Boomers. Seniors. And everyone else! I will continue to strongly support new open spaces as I advocated for with the new Fuller, seek funding for a splash park, encourage new youth oriented entertainment to choose Framingham, and support efforts to ensure Bowditch field is being utilized to the max.
QUESTION #4: Traffic is one of the top issues of residents. Is the
Traffic Commission making a difference in Framingham? Why or
Established in the Charter, the citizen-driven Traffic Commission can adopt, amend or repeal any rules or regulations regarding traffic on Framingham-owned roads. While there is much work to do to really make a noticeable city-wide difference, there have been a few initiatives making a positive impact in Framingham, especially in District 5. The digital feedback signs on Warren Road and city-wide lowering of the speed limit to 25 mph were
both lobbied for by residents and are making our roads safer.
The Traffic Commission needs to be fully funded in the FY21 budget, not reduced like it was in the FY20. We have to give the Commission the resources and power to make decisions to improve our roadways, and the ability to respond to increasing citizen concerns. District 5, in many ways, is the heart of Framingham. All of the major roads from Main Street
to Concord Street to Union Avenue to Franklin Street to Maple Street all go through District 5 Drivers, thanks to Waze, are finding new pathways to cut traffic, which is turning some of our quiet streets into the Autobahn. The Traffic Commission should explore what several other cities around the country have done and seek ways to manipulate Waze by restricting access to particular roads during certain times of the day and ensuring the proper speed limit is posted. Expanding our investment in traffic calming equipment such as digital feedback signs, such as the one found on Warren Road, rapid flash beacons and flex posts, will help reduce accidents in vulnerable areas in District 5. This way we keep our residents safe.
QUESTION #5: What ordinance would you file to improve your district (or city-wide) if elected? Why?
I order to provide some relief for certain elderly homeowners raise the threshold on the valuation of their home so they can defer a portion of their property tax bill. When the home is sold the City would recoup the monies.
QUESTION #6: Which department in the municipal government is the best-run department in the City of Framingham? Why do you feel that way?
The City Veterans Services Department. As a member of the Veterans of
Foreign War Chapter in Framingham I have seen the numerous ways the
municipal staff step up day after day. They strive to know where every single veteran in Framingham lives, and what their needs are. They are quietly doing their job, with their heads down, serving those who have served us. In addition to distributing federal, state, and local benefits, the department puts on the annual Veterans Day and Memorial Day Ceremonies which showcase the tremendous respect and sentiment the Framingham community has for those who serve, including family members. The staff in this department deserve praise, recognition, and the resources in each annual budget to continue their important and essential mission.
QUESTION #7: 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.
Creativity is part of my DNA. I pledge to always strive to seek new, innovative ways to solve problems facing District 5 and Framingham. My aim is to help bridge the divide within our community and inside the Memorial Building in a civil, respectful manner.
Having common goals between the City Council and Mayor is key. Employers in surveys and engagements with government tend to say that their biggest challenges are around transportation/traffic, employee recruitment/retention, health care cost containment, and the affordability of doing business. I want our industry partners to have confidence in the City Council and Mayor. I don’t know if that is the current case, but cannot speak for industry. Yet if elected to the City Council I will do my part to encourage the group to adopt mutual goals with the Mayor and ensure we are both business friendly and are serving our residents.
Specifically, to answer the question asking for three items, this means we can strive to:
● Facilitate the creation of new workforce education & training programs at Framingham State and MassBay Community College to develop Framingham’s local talent for the most pressing employee vacancies.
● Invest in the Traffic Commission’s mission and recommendations so tangible improvements are made, and people are actually noticing they are getting some time back for their busy schedules.
● Commit to installing solar on every single municipal property where it is eligible. Through power purchasing agreements and/or Energy Performance Savings Contracts, third party vendors can make this a reality for so many municipal buildings.
I’d like to think that most citizens would agree that a focus on workforce training, reducing traffic, and saving money on energy costs makes sense. Why can’t the Mayor and City Council agree on those mutual goals and then work on action steps to achieve them?
QUESTION #8: City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti represents
District 5 currently. Would you seek to be chair of the Council if
I have no plans at this time to seek the role as Chair. If my colleagues choose me for any leadership role I shall proudly accept the honor
QUESTION #9: Which vote by the City Council, since January 2017,
has made a difference in the City? Why?
In the last budget cycle the City Council approved the School Committee and
Superintendent’s compromise option in June to solve a complex budget gap
after the Mayor’s budget cut in May. This vote is allowing the school district to execute its strategic plan, fund contractual obligations, and focus on equity.
Specifically, I’m pleased that this budget deal allows for a full time drama
teacher at Fuller, and additional library staff at Barbieri, McCarthy, Fuller, and Wilson. The deal fixes an inequity compared to with north side schools.
Together the City Council and School Committee voted 18-1 on this compromise to support our students, educators, the equity I mentioned, and the overall system of education. By using new state resources, it came without the need to raise taxes, and without the need to cut any municipal services and transfer those funds over to the schools. I am proud of the School Committee’s effort here and how the City Council did their due diligence and vetted this before ultimately voting an enthusiastic and unanimous Yes. This one vote is already making a huge difference during the start of this school year, which is why it was the first vote I thought of to respond to this excellent question.
QUESTION #10: Should the Framingham City Council have its own attorney? Why?
Yes. As an independent legislative branch of our government the City Council needs their own legal counsel in order to properly separate legal opinions and avoid conflicts of interest with counsel for the Mayor
and municipal departments.
QUESTION #11? How would you make Framingham a more environmentally-friendly or GREEN city? Give 3 specific examples.
In an honest attempt to reduce my campaign’s carbon footprint, I am striving to campaign at least 75% on foot or bike.
My dedication to our environment is why I was endorsed by the Sierra Club.
Framingham is a wonderful community, but there is much more we can do to improve our sustainability. The City of Framingham has made some strides by installing LED street lights and upgrading some buildings, but in my opinion, hasn’t gone far enough to make this a priority.
As Councilor, I will encourage increasing our efforts to retrofit municipal buildings to make them more energy efficient, including the installation of solar panels. It bothers me that we home to one of the largest solar panel companies (Ameresco) in the country and our municipal buildings don’t have panels.
Secondly, in consultation with the Mayor and the DPW, initiate and procure installation of electric vehicle charging stations throughout Framingham, especially in our Downtown area. Additionally, the introduction of electric vehicles into the city fleet must be a priority.
Thirdly, I will encourage and seek funding for DPW to bring in pertinent parties, including traffic engineers, to help us find ways to synchronize traffic lights in key areas during rush hour to alleviate congestion, and reduce idling and emissions.
I’ve been a vocal supporter for reducing the school district’s carbon footprint; including phasing out styrofoam in our food services department. As a member of the School Building Committee, I strongly supported the Fuller Middle School Project architect’s efforts to make the new building climate sustainable and energy efficient as possible (LEED certified). That
certification saved city taxpayers money by securing additional state grants. The ongoing Fuller work I am part of includes efforts to collaborate with officials to create open space for recreational purposes upon the demolition of the old building, preparing for solar canopies for the new parking lot, partnering with MassSave, and closely adhering to the Framingham Conservation Commissions recommendations for protecting the nearby waterway and wetlands during construction.
Preserving open spaces and waterways, installing solar panels on municipal properties, introducing electric vehicles into the city fleet are initiatives we need to explore and implement. I will make it my priority to encourage and push the City administration to be more proactive in green initiatives.