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: Data Analyst/Operations
Years lived in Framingham: 7+ years
Family (optional): My husband, Chris, and I have been together for over 17 years and we have adopted three children from foster care who all attend Framingham Public Schools.
Municipal experience: Town Meeting, Chair of Precinct 8; Member of the Ways & Means Committee; Chair of the city’s first Strategic Initiatives & Financial Oversight Committee (SIFOC)
In less than 250 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a City Councilor?
District 5 residents should vote for me because it is critical to have a city councilor who shares your
values working on the budget, and advocating for the services and resources you care about. I am the District 5 candidate with the strongest financial skills, progressive values, and the most knowledge of Framingham’s municipal operations. I am the only candidate with financial experience of working for an international asset management firm. I am the only candidate that has worked in the non-profit world and held leadership positions in arts and educational organizations – experience that I want to use to build up the Arts and Cultural scene here in Framingham. I am a proven leader and team player. I served on Town Meeting and the Ways and Means committee and have experience working with all the department heads on the budget. I am a listener, a collaborator, a respectful person who gives and takes constructive input. I will be accountable and I will hold others accountable. I will be part of the change we need. I’m running to do what’s best for Framingham. What Framingham needs right now more than anything is a City Council that can work better together. I am the District 5 candidate with the values, character, and skills needed to build a productive working relationship with all stakeholders and I will always be an independent voice looking out for District 5 and Framingham.
Political Website or Facebook page link: www.VOTECASE.com
Do you support the budget approved by the City Council in June, including the increase for the schools? (yes or no) Both No and 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) Absolutely.
Should the City purchase the Perini Building as its new City Hall? (yes or no) Depends.
If yes, what would you do with the Memorial Building in downtown Framingham? The War Memorial front portico and entrance along with Nevins hall and the space beneath it should be preserved. I would recommend renovations to make Nevins Hall and the Memorial entrance as a larger performing arts venue for theatre or an orchestra in residence and/or new Arts Council home. This would be a big draw for downtown economic development. There is no performing arts venue of this size in MetroWest. With all the new restaurants, breweries and apartments in downtown, along with the train station, a sizeable performing arts center to accommodate bigger events would be a great attraction in Framingham.
Which City Council subcommittee would you wish to serve on? Finance, Appointments, Education
FINANCE: I work for an asset management firm and have financial expertise that would be extremely valuable working on our $300M budget
APPOINTMENTS: I would like to help bring more voices to the table and extend the outreach throughout the city. I also believe we can improve the overall process and would be interested in coordinating that with the executive branch.
EDUCATION: I am a strong education advocate and very involved in the schools with my three children. I want to do what I can to help the district raise the overall performance of our schools.
Should City offices close early on Fridays? (yes or no) During the Summer – Yes; The rest of the year – No
Do you support longer hours for the Callahan Center? (yes or no) Absolutely.
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?
The biggest issue facing the city is taxes. We need strategic, professionally trained eyes on the budget in order to make the best use of every tax dollar and deliver value to every taxpayer. I’m the only candidate with 12+ years of financial experience working for an international asset management firm and who has oversight over a multi-million dollar budget. I have experience from my years on the Ways & Means Committee working with every department head on Framingham’s budget. Everyone is concerned about keeping their taxes affordable. Residents need to follow the money in our budget – because it drives everything else. We need more people on our city council with more financial expertise. We need councilors who will take a closer look at our return on investment to see what we’re getting before we spend more. We need councilors who will take on the responsibility to take a closer look at our city’s long term financial stability. The financial strategic planning we undertake now will determine our bond
ratings in the future, which will directly affect under how favorable terms we are able to issue bonds for capital and infrastructure projects. We also need councilors who understand that our financial commitment to OPEB needs to stop being ignored before it cripples our budget in the future. Health care costs for retirees are going to continue to increase and our city needs to be take responsibility and fund these areas instead of keeping them as nothing more than a footnote in the liabilities section of our annual
Our demographics are changing in Framingham as the 55+ population continues to grow. We need to recognize this shift and provide appropriate resources to make sure the Callahan is able to provide a high level of service for this growing group of people. I will be the councilor who will
proactively looks for ways to streamline our services to combat rising costs, while ensuring we are able to still providing the same high quality level of service to residents.
QUESTION #2: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
Residents of District 5 are sick and tired of all the traffic related issues which have gone unaddressed for way too long. I know what district 5 residents want because I reach out to them, and they have been contacting me as their go-to person since I served on town meeting as Chair of Precinct 8. Traffic continues to be a big issue both with speeding through our densely packed neighborhoods, to congestion at the intersection of Route 126 and Route 30, Route9, and along segments of Union Ave. As the
chair of the Strategic Initiative and Financial Oversight (SIFOC) committee, appointed by the Mayor, I currently collaborate with her on many issues and will get her attention on these critical issues as well.
I will work with our Traffic Commission to find solutions for traffic calming measures as well as making sure our streets are safe for every mode of transportation. I will also lead the charge to invest in a more robust public transportation system for our city. We should also be looking at shuttle
service to the downtown train service. More public transportation helps reduce the volume of cars on our local roads.
We also need better coordination between public works and traffic control during road construction to further alleviate congestion. I would also advocate for every road that is new or repaved to have bike and pedestrian plans in place.
District 5 is fortunate to have two great state reps. I have strong working relationships with them. I will work with them, the Mayor and Senator Spilka to push the State to address safety concerns on Route 9 and 126. The flooding on 126 and Route 9 has to be fixed once and for all, as well as the
pedestrian crossings by Prospect Street and FSU. District 5 is where so many major roads convene and our issues with those roads need to be addressed.
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?
Public safety and crime are always on the minds of District 5 residents. I fully support funding the police and fire departments to properly meet the safety needs of our community. This includes cruisers in all neighborhoods around the clock and some foot patrol WE also need mental health and drug rehabilitation programs to support our police force’s efforts. I will be looking for resources in the budget and the plans behind them to support strong safety services.
We need to keep the storefronts filled and open longer to make downtown a more inviting destination, but patrons need to feel safe. Downtown Framingham, Inc.’s use of contracted security demonstrated a need for supplemental services to support the police. We should make this our way of providing public safety going forward if the data is showing success. To make sure Framingham continues to be safe and maintains and good quality of life will take a two prong approach by all stakeholders including the Mayor, Council, Police Department.
New police recruits are down significantly across the nation. Our city’s stakeholders need to work together to figure out how to promote a career in law enforcement so we have a larger pipeline of police to hire.
There is an opportunity to work jointly with the Youth Council to get feedback about police officers, as well as how to recruit and attract younger generations for a career in law enforcement.
In the short term, it was commendable to see an agreement reached on the first contract with the police union since 2016. The Council needs to do their due diligence on this agreement in a timely manner to make sure it is a fair agreement for both sides. Quality of life in Framingham can also be improved with more mental health support services for residents of all ages. We can do more public outreach on how the community can work together to connect people with services to improve safety and quality of life for all residents.
QUESTION #4: Traffic is one of the top issues of residents. Is the Traffic Commission making a difference in Framingham? Why or Why not?
The traffic commission has been stymied by turnover, and that’s the first issue that has to be addressed. Without a full commission the true potential of solving traffic problems is greatly reduced. New appointments were just made last week. If I am able to serve on the appointments subcommittee it will be a priority to keep the traffic commission and other boards and committees filled so the work can be done properly and in a timely manner.
The Traffic Commission has made some headway. Reducing the speed to 25mph through thickly settled areas is a start, but not enough. There are traffic calming measures such as digital speed signs that should be placed throughout the city along with safer crosswalks. Residents who live on streets used as cut throughs will benefit greatly from these measures. . I will always be a strong advocate for the requests of District 5 residents in front of the Traffic Commission, and with the safety of all neighborhoods in mind. So many residents have felt unsafe in their own yards due to speeding. Better speeding studies should be done. Let’s get accurate data and put it to work making improvements.
QUESTION #5: What ordinance would you file to improve your district (or city-wide) if elected? Why?
We need ordinances on:
- Traffic Calming
- Door-to-Door Sales
Traffic Calming: I would] file an ordinance to provide more traffic calming measure across the city. We need to review and upgrade all of our traffic calming measures across the city. The council should work collaboratively with the planning board and ZBA to make sure appropriate traffic calming measures are part of every development project that comes before them.
Noise: It’s important to make sure the noise ordinance is approved by the council in order to improve the quality of life for all residents. I have heard complaints from many residents across District 5 regarding early morning construction noise as well as noise from yard and landscaping cleanups. There is a proper time for all of these activities to occur. These activities should not be waking up an entire neighborhood or intruding on the lives of residents to the point it becomes noise pollution. People work various
schedules and their quality of life is impacted by noise.
Door-to-Door Sales: I would also file an ordinance to greatly limit or ban all door to door sales in the city. This ordinance would not include any church activities, political canvassing, or group such as local school sports teams and the Boy and Girl scouts. There have been District 5 residents who have been taken advantage of by these type of sales people can be pushy with their tactics. It can take months to correct an issue which causes undesirable stress and a possible financial loss.
QUESTION #6: Which department in the municipal government is the best-run department in the City of Framingham? Why do you feel that way?
Some departments in our municipal government are more visible others, which makes their work more noticeable. We as residents often only see the more visible ones such as Parks & Rec, the DPW, or police and fire when we need them. Having worked with department heads for years during my time in Town Meeting and on the Ways and Means Committee, I have seen the level of dedication many departments and their employees provide to our residents.
I do want to recognize that I believe our Department of Public Works (DPW) which manages the roads, water and sewer, trash, recycling, etc. is second to none. You can see how much they care and the amount of work they put in to keep Framingham moving, even during massive nor’easters in the winter.
Framingham’s streets are plowed better than most state owned roads and neighboring communities. We have convenient weekly trash, recycling, and cardboard recycling pick-up, and a recycling center that are
a big plus for Framingham. We also have award winning water, and a public sewer system. Our DPW takes all of its responsibilities very seriously. They are always on call to repair burst pipes and make seasonal clean-ups easier with planned pick-ups of leaves and debris from trees. The DPW also works on long term planning to maintain and upgrade our infrastructure proactively. I want to make sure the DPW is always able to provide superior service to our residents and to keep their services great for the future
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
First, the Mayor and Council should agree on overall priorities for the city, work collaboratively to fund them and then put them on a timeline and agree to be accountable to the overall plan. One way to do that is by collaborating on strategic planning efforts as well as a more collaborative budget planning approach.
The Council and Mayor should work more closely to arrive at budget plans for the city before any deadlines outlined in the charter force us to scramble through a budget season. The Mayor and Council should work together with respect and through open communication to adopt in 2020 a thoughtful and ambitious strategic plan for the city.
Second, the Council and Mayor should work together to make Framingham look better. When you cross the border into Framingham from any point, it should look better than the place you’re coming from. This creates a sense of pride and respect in our residents. This will improve our image and help stimulate our economy. Downtown Framingham, Inc has done a great job of assisting with façade and sign improvements for existing businesses downtown. The Mayor and Council should look for more Public-
Private partnerships to help spread these types of improvements throughout the city.
Third, let’s not just talk about customer service, let’s really provide it. Every single interaction a resident or business has with our city should be pleasant, professional and productive. The Council and Mayor must work collaboratively to streamline our city functions and make it easier for people to conduct their business with the city. When a small business wants to open in Framingham we should be helping them find small business grants available to help them open. We should be consulting them through the process. The Mayor and Council must work with the Planning Board and ZBA to create a more collaborative approach to designing small business locations. As trends move from large retail box stores to smaller retails locations, the city has to prepare for this change and work collaboratively that our zoning and other ordinances are in line to support this business trend.
QUESTION #8: City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti represents District 5 currently. Would you seek to be chair of the Council if elected?
The Council makes this decision together after the election. It should not be decided in advance, nor should candidates be jockeying for the position until they know who they are working with and what each person brings to the council. The decision of chair is then determined by who has the right mixture of abilities to lead the council and its vision of the city for the next two years. If my fellow councilors thought that I would have the ability to lead the council, then I would be honored to serve.
QUESTION #9: Which vote by the City Council, since January 2017, has made a difference in the City? Why?
The City Council voted against the ZBA appointments. It appeared to be a political vote which was discouraging to those who applied and many who observed the process. The process has to be more collaborative and less adversarial. I would like to be a part of the appointments subcommittee to make sure it’s a fair open process, to take the politics out of it and to get the best people to fill the positions on the committees and commissions. The process needs to be more transparent and easier to navigate through the administration and it also has to be more welcoming and accommodating for people who want to serve.
QUESTION #10: Should the Framingham City Council have its own attorney? Why?
There are pro and cons for the City Council to have its own attorney. I believe the Council should contract out its legal work on an as needed basis.
The City Solicitor represents the entire entity of the City of the Framingham, which includes both the Mayor and the Council. The council should have
to vote on whether they believe there could be competing interests between the Mayor and the Council’s viewpoints. If the vote fails, then the legal work should go to the City Solicitor’s office as the chief legal advisor to the city. As part of our fiduciary responsibility we should regularly reassess
the work we contract out to see if it still makes financial sense, not just in the cost, but in the return. This includes legal. I think it is worth exploring if there are any savings of having an internal legal department instead of contracting out the work of the City Solicitor.
QUESTION #11? How would you make Framingham a more environmentally-friendly or GREEN city? Give 3 specific examples.
This has to be among the top priorities for our city. We are in a climate crisis and everyone has to do their part to go greener and protect the environment. We only have one earth. Here are three specific examples
of easy ways to have an impact.
- Place solar Panels on Municipal Buildings or as a canopy over municipal and school parking lots. When roofs need to be repaired or replaced on city owned buildings, we must plan for them to be
brought up to capacity to facilitate solar panels. On a city owned building we need to make the investment to have the roof made solar ready. The technology exists for taxpayers to see a real savings as the city reduces its electrical consumption. Municipals vehicles should be hybrids or electrical whenever possible. This also includes solar charging stations throughout the city to encourage residents to buy more electric cars.
- I would propose that the council pass ordinances to require green building standards for new construction that would increase energy and water efficiency.
- The city can use land it owns to put up solar panels which will provide energy to be sold to condos and other homes where solar is not feasible inaccessible sunlight. These are called solar gardens. They have proven to be successful in other areas and Framingham can step up and partner with Ameresco to do this. Ameresco specializes in solar and is corporate based in Framingham.