Editor’s Note: All City Council candidates received a Q&A from SOURCE last week. Each race had different questions. If an answer is left blank, the candidate chose not to answer the questions. SOURCE gave the candidates a word limit, so some answers may be shorter than what candidates submitted.
FRAMINGHAM – School Committee member Ricky Finlay is one of two candidates seeking to be the City Councilor in District 2. District 2 is comprised of Precincts 3 and 5. The incumbent is not running for re-election.
Election day is Tuesday, November 5. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Which pronoun do you prefer? He/Him
Occupation: Town Of Wellesley Facilities Department – Head Custodian
Years lived in Framingham: Lifelong
Family (optional): Wife Patricia and two children Olivia and Bobby
Municipal experience: Currently School Committee member for District, Former Town Meeting Member. Additionally, serves on the Disability
Commission and the City Seal Committee.
In less than 250 words, why should someone vote you to represent
them as a City Councilor?
I take my role as a representative very seriously. I am proud of my record of collaboration with my fellow members, municipal leaders and our state delegation during my time as a School Committee member. I am not afraid
to ask the tough questions and vote for what I believe is in the best interest of our community.
In that spirit, I want to take my record and what I’ve learned on the School Committee to the Council.
I will bring the same passion and energy that has been brought to fighting for all of our kids to the Council. Framingham works best when we are honest and transparent, put political grudges and issues aside and get down to work.
Political Website or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rickyfinlayfordistrict2/
Candidates were asked to submit one word or one sentence answers to a series of questions:
The best thing about District 2 is neighborhood parks & playgrounds.
Saxonville needs Revitilization
Nobscot needs Revitilization
What letter grade would you give the Mayor? C
What letter grade would you give the City Council in its first term? B
Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? (yes or no) YES
Do you support the budget approved by the City Council in June, including the increase for the schools? YES
Should there be a moratorium on apartments in Framingham? YES
Should the City purchase the Perini Building as its new City Hall? NO
If yes, what would you do with the Memorial Building in downtown Framingham? (a sentence or two only)
Should City offices close early on Fridays? NO
Should there be designated parking spaces for customers at the Memorial Building? YES
Do you support longer hours for the Callahan Center? YES
Do you support a noise ordinance for the City? YES
Would you support the creation of a dog park in Framingham? YES
Does Framingham need a town pool, a splash pad, or neither? YES
Should the City’s beaches be free like the City’s parks? YES
If elected, which City Council subcommittee would you wish to
serve on? Education
(Editor’s Note: Candidates were told they could have 350 words to answer. Longer answers will be cut at the sentence closest to 350 words.)
QUESTION #1: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing the city? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
Framingham needs to look at the status of its Municipal Buildings including schools Several years ago, the then Town of Framingham commissioned a Blue Ribbon Study to study the current status of our buildings and make recommendations on what Framingham should do with the property it owns. This was a group of the best and brightest when it comes to building, finance and architecture.
Since the Blue Ribbon Commission completed and presented their work, nothing has been done.
As Councilor, I will work with my fellow Councilors and the Mayor to revisit that study and develop a plan on how to tackle the issues of our buildings. Additionally, we need to bring the community together to have their input,
especially on the status of the Memorial and Danforth Buildings.
QUESTION #2: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing District 2? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
Saxonville is home to many city-owned properties, such as the Pumping Station, soon-to-be-vacant fire station, Athenaeum Hall and the old McAuliffe Library.
Like the issue with the municipal buildings city-wide, now is the time to bring all stakeholders together, have honest conversations about what we, as a neighborhood, want for the future of Saxonville and work with city leaders to develop a plan to make these ideas a reality.
QUESTION #3: Do you think Framingham is a safe community? Yes
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?
We need to do more to keep our streets, schools, businesses and homes safe. It starts with attracting and retaining good police officers. We need to properly staff and fund our Police Department. As the recent forum with Governor Baker indicated, we also need to do more planning to ensure that all departments are prepared for a community emergency should one occur.
QUESTION #4: Traffic is one of the top issues of residents. What letter grade would you give the Traffic Commission?How would you make sure residents’ traffic and safety concerns are heard and resolved by the Traffic Commission?
Letter grade: D
You cannot drive through District 2 without facing some of the major traffic issues in Framingham. McGrath Square is always backed up during commuting times. It is time for us to get serious and look at this intersection and get resident input on how to make it better.
I believe we need to staff the Traffic Commission and make sure it is properly funded so they can take citizen concerns and solve problems. As Councilor, I will also advocate on behalf of my neighbors in District 2 with the Traffic Commission to address these concerns facing our district. The Traffic Commission works best when it listens and collaborates with residents, like the examples on Warren Road in District 5.
QUESTION #5: What ordinance would you file to improve your
district (or city-wide) if elected? Why?
Budget Transparency and Efficiency Ordinance. I am proud of the
extremely public, open and participatory process that the schools use to adopt our budget. The 6-month process that involves every stakeholder results in a more focused, collaborative and efficient budget. Our municipal budget, on the other hand, is crafted in a backroom without even input from key stakeholders. We need to change this.
I will work with my colleagues to bring the promise of our new city,
transparency and accountability, to our municipal budget. This will include extensive hearings and discussions before the budget is filed. A detailed review of every dollar spent. Our operating budget should be a multi-year living document. We need to do more to keep Framingham affordable for all of our residents.
QUESTION #6: 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.
First, it starts with listening. Listening to our neighbors and listening to our fellow elected officials. I have spent my entire adult life collaborating with fellow representatives, our state delegation, and residents to address concerns in our community and get the job done.
Second, we need to engage with our neighbors. District 2 has several neighborhood groups, from the Friends of Saxonville to Nobscot Neighbors.
As Councilor, I want to bring those individuals and groups into the conversation about what is happening in District 2. Our residents have so many ideas and concerns on how to improve our district. As Councilor, I will meet with them regularly for input and invite the Mayor to join us in our meetings.
And like I am as a School Committee member, residents should always feel they can contact me at any time with a problem, idea or question. I will always remain accessible.
Third, our small businesses are the engine of our economy. One of the ways we can work collaboratively with our small businesses is to meet with them on a regular basis. The Framingham Business Association holds monthly meetings. We should attend to hear their concerns. We should find out how Framingham can continue to shed its anti-business reputation.
The Council and Mayor, following these three suggestions, can
apply these toward making the budget more transparent, increase the number of people being appointed, and in encouraging businesses to grow and locate here.
QUESTION #7: Which vote by the City Council, since January 2017,
has made a difference in the City? Why?
The Council’s vote to add funds to the Mayor’s budget to adequately fund our schools was an important statement by our new City that schools are important. It took courage for Councilors to do so. I am proud of their vote.
QUESTION #8: How would you make Framingham a more environmentally-friendly or GREEN city?
We all need to do our part. Educating the public more on how to recycle properly so that what when we recycle it does not get contaminated. Also, I would draft an ordinance to get as many fuel-efficient or electric vehicles in the fleet as possible. Lastly, I will explore putting solar panels on municipal buildings.
QUESTION #9: As a city councilor how will your help bring new businesses to your district and to the community?
I will meet with business owners to see what it would take to get them interested in coming to our district. I will work with our economic development professionals to see if there are any incentives from the city to bring them here, if it is a good fit for the community and Framingham, and what we can do to assist them.
QUESTION #10: Your district includes the Nobscot Plaza. Do you
support the current plan proposed for redevelopment? Yes or No
and give your reasoning.
Yes, I believe that the developer and neighbors came up with a
compromise for the neighborhood. It is not everything that everyone wanted, but it does move us forward with removing this blight and making the plaza productive once again.
QUESTION #11: At many government meetings, forums, and
hearings, there are less than 100 residents in attendance, and yet
Framingham is a community of more than 70,000. How will you get more citizens involved? Be specific.
We need to convene more meetings in the neighborhoods most affected. We need to make participation easy and productive. That also means translating things into multiple languages and ensuring spaces are ADA accessible.
QUESTION #12 – The Mayor has held several Community Conversations since she took the oath of office. What change has come from these conversations in your opinion? What conversation is not happening in this community and needs to take place? Explain.
It is always important to solicit input from voters. But it is also important to organize public conversations so that they are productive and to think through follow-up so that you are respecting voters’ time and valuing their input. More effort needs to be given to make these sessions more well attended and productive.
QUESTION #13: If you had to cut $100,000 from the municipal budget, where would you cut? If the city was given a $100,000 grant to spend in any city department – which department deserves the money and why?
I would first make cuts to budget that have no direct impact on residents or students, that is administrative costs. Then I would look to spend those dollars in the areas that need them the most, such as the Facilities Departments. They are dealing with our crumbling building infrastructure and need to come up with solutions to keep buildings operational.