FRAMINGHAM – Tuesday is election day in the City of Framingham and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. On the ballot will be three candidates for Mayor. Voters will select one name. The two candidates with the most votes, will move on to the Tuesday, November 2 ballot.
Occupation: Nonprofit Executive Director and Notary Public
Years lived in Framingham: 22 years in total
Family: My wonderful wife Elizabeth, our loving kids Jessica and Jullian, and our beautiful grandson Jyden.
Volunteering efforts in the City of Framingham include: Founder and Executive Director of The Brazilian Children’s Foundation, Board member of the Framingham Coalition, Head of Scout Outreach for the Boy Scout of America, Member of the American Red Cross, Liaison and translation volunteer for Framingham Union Hospital, Founder and Executive Director of The Brazilian American Children’s Fund, and Founder and Executive Director of Brazilian Immigrants Family of America
Do you speak another language?: I speak English, Portuguese, and Spanish fluently.
Political Website or Facebook page link:
Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked a series of short questions. Some were yes or no, and some had 3 multiple choice answers.
1) Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? No
2) Framingham Public Schools Receive too little funding.
3) Framingham has too many apartments.
4) Do you support the proposed in-law apartment proposal? Yes
5) If Mayor, would you mandate vaccines for City employees? Yes
6) City of Framingham did a poor job when it came to the Coronavirus pandemic.
7) I am Zoom Fatigued
8) Report Card time for the City Council. What letter grade would you give the current City Council? B
9) Should City offices close early on Fridays? No
10) The elected Mayor should attend every City Council meeting like she attends every School Committee meeting? Yes
11) City of Framingham is spinning its wheels
12) Describe the City of Framingham in 3 words: Promising, Diverse, and Underserved
13) Framingham Public Schools needs improvement
Editor’s Note: The candidates were then asked a series of more in-depth questions.
QUESTION #1: There are many infrastructure needs in the City. The American Rescue Fund provides more than $25 million to the City. How would you spend that $25 million? Be specific.
We need to think of the future when deciding how to use this fund. It is critical that we invest this money in the community, rather than simply spending it. I want to use the American Rescue Fund to build a youth center for the benefit of our children. This is a vital piece of infrastructure that we are currently missing, and building a youth center is something that will bring value to the community for years to come. These centers give a huge amount of support to local families, especially those who may already be struggling by providing free or subsidized programming. I firmly believe education is the biggest determining factor of success in a person’s life, but also for the community as a whole. I want to give equal opportunities for learning to all students, regardless of their economic situation. Education does not end outside of the classroom, we need to recognize this and provide accessible options for everyone. A youth center would go a long way toward leveling the playing field among the children of Framingham. This facility would provide kids with an array of educational and developmental resources they may not have had access to before. Through collaborating with local families, we could provide a range of programming that is needed most by the community. This may include ESL supports, mental health services, supplemental learning opportunities, or any other such program that addresses a need that the residents have. In addition to the multitude of benefits a youth center provides to our children, it provides additional support to parents who may be struggling under the weight of providing for and raising a family. This would provide parents with a place they can feel good about sending their kids when school is out, without the financial burden associated with the alternative options. Youth centers are the perfect place to host family oriented events for kids, as well as parents, to come together and get to know one another. A youth center can help build our future, as well as create a strong community in the present. We are currently doing a great disservice to our residents by not having affordable access to summer and afterschool programs. There are many kids out there that are eager to learn, but do not have the money to pay for the expensive programs and camps that currently make up all their options. The present lack of affordable enrichment programs contributes to educational inequality within our city. Education is a universal right, everyone in Framingham deserves access to a quality education. By building a youth center, we will use this fund in a way that will continue to provide services to the residents of Framingham long after the money has been spent.
QUESTION #2: The City of Framingham has been hemorrhaging money from the water & sewer enterprise fund for the last 3 years? The Mayor just raised the rates by almost 10%. As mayor you will be responsible for setting the water & sewer rates. How will you balance the fund and what is your plan to make the fund sustainable?
We have been put in a very tough situation as a city by the current administration in regards to the sewer and water funds. We are currently in a hole that we are going to have to work hard to dig ourselves out of. To help balance the fund, we need to work together to come up with places where we can make strategic reductions without compromising the services being provided. There was a severe lack of communication between the mayor’s office and the City Council that led up to this disaster. Any approach we take has to be one that comes from extensive collaboration between all relevant departments. I understand that the city is already in the process of hiring a consultant to review the rate system currently in place. Leveraging the knowledge of this consultant will allow us to restructure our rates in a way that will be more sustainable going forward. These are immediate solutions that we must focus on now to address this new deficit. I understand that we need a long term plan as well, because short term thinking is what got us here in the first place. When we had a surplus in the budget, the Mayor and her administration chose to keep the rates artificially low instead of investing in our water and sewer systems. This was a huge missed opportunity, but we must overcome this mistake and still look to the future of our systems. Establishing an anaerobic digestion facility to operate alongside our wastewater division would be a tremendous investment for the city. Unfortunately, now that the surplus is gone we would have to either wait or try to find the funds elsewhere, but accomplishing this would create a much more sustainable fund for Framingham. An anaerobic digester would not only have the effect of making Framingham a greener community, but it would be a strong asset to our water and sewer fund going forward. An anaerobic digester takes organic waste, such as processed sewage or food scraps, and produces a renewable gas and nutrient-rich fertilizer. This means that while also assisting in the treatment of water, the digester can become a source of sustained revenue for the wastewater division by capturing a resource that is currently being thrown away. We would be able to realize the most amount of revenue by encouraging residents to separate compostable waste from their trash. The anaerobic digester would not only turn that waste into capital, the city would save additional money by reducing the amount of trash it has to pay to be processed. The long term financial and ecological benefits have been well proven. The current state of the water and sewer fund is a big problem, we need short term action in addition to long term solutions. Anaerobic digestion is a known science that has produced strong results for the cities and towns that chose to invest in them. This is the best way forward for a sustainable, efficient, and eco-friendly water and sewer facility in Framingham.
QUESTION #3: How will you support the business community, as it emerges from the pandemic? What one thing will you do to help stimulate economic development in the City?
Being a local business owner myself, I can tell you that City Hall needs to improve the communication channels with our business community. The current administration is not putting nearly enough effort into working with local business owners to address their problems and keep them in Framingham. I have heard this complaint countless times over the past four years from different members of the business community. I was motivated to run for office myself after experiencing first hand just how poor the support really was. The men’s bathroom in my office building had been in a terrible state of disrepair for months. After trying to work with the building owner and getting nowhere, I decided that someone needed to step up and report what was happening. City Hall was not only extremely reluctant to get involved, but when they finally did, all they had to say was that everything looked fine. I was shocked, not only was there no running water at one point, but the conditions were beyond unsanitary. This was the only men’s bathroom for the entire building of 43 businesses. If it wasn’t disgraceful enough already, this was going on just steps from the front stairs of City Hall. We deserve an administration that goes out and actively looks for more ways to help. At the very least we need leadership that is not going to hide when people come to City Hall in need of assistance. This attitude of indifference is why businesses are leaving. We need to make City Hall a friendly place for everyone, where people feel confident that they can go and have their voice heard. I want to work on this with the entire business community, but especially with the one downtown. They need support in a serious way, the homelessness and crime is forcing many of them to consider closing their shops for good. City Hall needs to do more to support business before they get to their breaking point. We need more communication and more compassion to improve the economic condition of our city. I want to restore the reputation of Framingham in the eyes of potential business owners by restoring the heart of our community, downtown. I want this revitalization to be a strong message that Framingham is a growing and thriving community that strongly supports commerce. Right now City Hall’s lack of attention is driving businesses away, we need to take care of who is here now to attract new business in the future.
QUESTION #4: Many families and seniors are struggling in the City. How can you make their lives better? Give 2-3 specific
Many people are currently going through very hard times, we need to do everything we can to support our residents. My mission is to empower the people of Framingham by giving them more direct access to their local government. I will make their lives better by giving them a City Hall that wants to hear their voice and respond with action. We need leadership that is focused on making people’s lives better, period. I feel as though the current administration has gotten lost in the weeds of politics. They’ve forgotten that everything we do as an elected official has to come back to serving the public. There is no room for ego or personal vendettas to get in the way of that. As mayor, I will put the emphasis fully back on the individuals that comprise our city. I want to go out everyday and talk to different residents about what is going on in our community and what we at City Hall could be doing to better address it. This is the way it has to be, this is how meaningful change for the residents gets made. I think that City Hall is a cold place right now for a concerned citizen to go and express their concerns. We need to start by welcoming input from the community, and then doing more to go out and actively seek it. As mayor, I want to implement neighborhood community meetings. I want to set up a schedule to regularly go out to different parts of Framingham and give the people a chance to express their views directly to me. I will then take that feedback to City Hall, and return with answers on what can and cannot be done and why. We need a mayor that is going to be accessible to the people they are elected to serve. I don’t want to sit behind a desk all day, I want to engage with the community. This is what City Hall is missing right now, an accessible mayor, but also accessible information. My mission is to empower the people of Framingham through streamlined channels of engagement between the residents and the city, and fixing the website would be a great step in that direction. I want to see a redesigned website that is focused on being intuitive and easy to navigate for all of the residents. It is the responsibility of public officials to make information as easy to find as possible. The quality of local government can be measured by how accessible information is and how open lines of communication are for all residents. I will make people’s lives better by making the information they need more immediately available and by empowering their voice so it is actually heard by City Hall.