Q&A With Mayoral Candidate Charlie Sisitsky

Share, email, print, bookmark SOURCE reports.

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.

***

Charlie Sisitsky

Pronouns: he/him/his

Occupation: After finishing my studies at WPI, I completed my Masters Degree in Community Development and became the Planning Director in Medford, where I served for ten years. I later took over as the Planning Director for the Town of Natick, where I eventually also became the Town’s Director of Public Works – a position I held for over twenty years while also holding elected positions and volunteering in the Framingham community.

Years lived in Framingham: 50

Family (optional): Wife, Robin Kaye, 4 children, 2 stepchildren, all graduates of Framingham Public Schools, and 8 grandchildren, 3 of whom are current Framingham Public School students.

Volunteering efforts in the City of Framingham include: I served on the Potter Road PTO and as a youth basketball coach for numerous teams over the years. I also served on the Town’s Finance Committee and as a Town Meeting member from Precinct Two.

From 1998 – 2018, I was an elected member of the Framingham Board of Selectmen, where I served multiple terms as Chairman and also led the Utility Abatement Committee, and the Traffic and Roadway Safety Committee, where I established and helped author the town-wide policy for traffic calming.

After Framingham’s adoption of its City Charter, I was elected City Councilor from District One and was elected Vice Chair of the Council. I served as Chair of the Planning & Zoning subcommittee of the City Council.

I was a founding Board Member of “Hoops and Homework,” a local non-profit focused on improving underserved neighborhoods through public and private partnerships. I also served as Vice President of the Friends of the Callahan Senior Center; the first Chair of the Fuller School Building Committee; and as an active supporter and volunteer with Community
Connections, the Framingham History Center and the MetroWest Jewish Day School.

Do you speak another language? No
Political Website or Facebook page link: https://charlieforframingham.com/

***

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? (yes or no) Yes

2) Framingham Public Schools Receive (too little, just the right amount, or too much) funding. Too little

3) Framingham has (too few, just the right amount, or too many) apartments. Just the right amount.

4) Do you support the proposed in-law apartment proposal? (yes or no) Yes

5) If Mayor, would you mandate vaccines for City employees? (yes or no) Yes

6) City of Framingham did an (amazing, adequate, or poor job) when it came
to the Coronavirus pandemic. Adequate

7) I am Zoom Fatigued or Zoom Happy? Zoom Happy

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? (yes or no) Yes

10)The elected Mayor should attend every City Council meeting like she attends every School Committee meeting? (yes or no) Yes

11)City of Framingham is on (the right track, spinning its wheels, going backwards) Going backwards

12)Describe the City of Framingham in 3 words: vibrant diverse terrific

13)Framingham Public Schools are (making progress, satisfactory, needs improvement) Making progress

***

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


American Rescue Plan Funds (ARPA) provide a rare opportunity to address issues
raised during the pandemic and to help rebuild our community. It will be crucial to
deploy the funding quickly and equitably, but we need to be sure that we are investing it
correctly and not merely just spending it. I believe framework based off a three-pronged
strategy is needed to deploy ARPA funding wisely: stabilize, strategize, and organize.
Stabilize: People and businesses are hurting. Businesses need capital to reopen doors,
and people need outreach and skills development to match them to available jobs.
While it is important to consider an investment’s impact beyond the immediate term,
providing such immediate help is a necessary baseline for a longer-term recovery.

Strategize: Deploying $25 million would require a team/subcommittee that can execute
strategic investments and monitor impacts. I will take a collaborative, thoughtful
approach to identify the gaps where money is most needed and outline a formal
process to make a decision on how to spend the money.

As Mayor, I will always strive to validate internal priorities with those of the residents in
Framingham. Before spending, I will get citizen input about capital projects we plan for,
and balance their concerns with other projects that aren’t necessarily on the surface and
obvious to people, but are nonetheless important—for example: water, sewer, and
broadband infrastructure. Investing in necessary expenditures to improve access to
clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to
expand access to broadband internet is much needed.

Organize: There are endless options for how we can spend $25 million of ARPA
funding to benefit Framingham. Now is the time to plan around big ideas for the future
and be ready to hit the ground running. Framingham has a few solar-panel projects
ongoing at municipal-owned buildings, however, I envision more solar initiatives to bring
green energy, financial savings and economic development to our community. These
funds could also play an integral role in fast-tracking the planning to build a new school
south of Route 9, so students in that area will be able to attend a high-quality
neighborhood school. The possible ways for us to use these funds are endless.
Clear signs of financial mismanagement by the Spicer administration are constantly
taking taxpayer funding away from our community’s other critical needs, and
opportunities are being missed. For example, ignoring and deferring crumbling
infrastructure projects means that as a community, we are not taking care of some of
our greatest municipal assets; failure to enact the green policy initiatives that we already
decided are necessary to help protect our environment and fight climate change is
moving too slowly, and if we are not providing our school system with the resources our
teachers and our students need to succeed, we are doing our whole community a grave
disservice.

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?

Unfortunately, the sobering reality is that the mismanagement of our water rates by the
Spicer administration over the last three years, has left the City with a significant deficit

in the water and sewer enterprise funds. Given the massive subsidy the fund has
required over the last three years the immediate future is challenging. Rate payers
suffered a 10% rate hike in July because the Spicer administration had not increased
rates since 2019, despite rising costs and lessening demand.

Rate setting is part of a complex process that includes demand forecasting, cost of
service analysis, customer class cost allocation, and determining revenue requirements.
There are also regulatory factors at play. Additionally, water providers are natural
monopolies and rates must be reasonable and prudent, and equitable and
nondiscriminatory. Doing so involves taking a detailed look at the City’s current and
future costs and expenses, rate structure options, and the amount of water customers
use.

Although the process takes time, the benefits are significant:

• Maintenance of the municipal system’s financial stability by ensuring a sufficient
revenue stream.

• Collection and reservation of the funds needed to cover the costs of future asset
rehabilitation and repair projects, security upgrades, and compliance with future
regulations, among other things.

• A plan for reasonable, gradual and predictable rate increases when necessary.

• Delivery of fairly priced, high-quality water to residents now and in the future.

Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds have already been leveraged to help mitigate
Framingham’s water rates. Without the unexpected appearances of these funds,
ratepayers would have faced a 25-30% increase this year alone. Although we can be
thankful for the infiltration of funds, it is really tragic that the mismanagement of the
system has required they be used to fill rate gaps.

Relying on federal funding will not work in the long-term. Framingham may need to
consider a “base fee” for water users to help lower rates and reduce debt. As this may
be a hardship for many residents, I support the further development of programs that
provide exemptions for veterans, seniors and low-income residents.

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?

COVID-19 has been devastating for our business community. The impacts of the
pandemic have been detrimental, most often to minority business owners and those
with lower socio-economic status. I have been distraught by the hundreds of deaths,
thousands of positive cases, extended school closures, businesses trying to stay open,
and the mental health impacts of the pandemic. I am running for Mayor of Framingham
because I strongly believe the end of this crisis is an opportunity for someone with my
experience to lead our community into the post-pandemic recovery phase.

An important lesson from last year’s CARES Act is that moving resources very quickly
through existing systems can exacerbate economic and racial inequality. We need to
ensure equitable access to capital and technical assistance. If elected, I will continue to
strive for an inclusive recovery, ensuring all small businesses have the resources they
need to get back on their feet. From every shop to the banking, legal, and municipal
services that are necessary for daily life, local business enclaves are the backbone of
Framingham’s economy, and it is critically important to continue to create programs that
help sustain their existence despite the current pandemic.

As Mayor, I will clearly communicate and provide public health services wherever
necessary. The new normal remains an unknown. If elected, I will work with the Board
of Health, Department of Public Health, relevant departments and stakeholders to
require clear communications and deliver services in areas such as vaccinations and
testing. If COVID-19 testing is to remain a public need, I will ensure that an accessible
and consistent location is operating and will not move as many times as it has under the
Spicer administration.

Our businesses need a commitment to public safety. Our businesses need to have
clean streets. Our businesses need more loan and grant opportunities. I have vowed to
double down my support for all of these initiatives in order to create an improved
environment for small businesses to take critical steps forward to revive and thrive in a
post-pandemic world.

QUESTION #4: Many families and seniors are struggling in the City. How can you
make their lives better? Give 2-3 specific examples.


Forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, our senior citizens have not
been able to experience regular social interactions with their families or peers. Many of
our seniors depend on various programs offered by the Callahan Senior Center. I
previously served as Vice President of the Friends of Callahan and understand how
important these programs are to our Seniors. I will set out to make our seniors a priority,
as they are the fastest growing segment of our population.

I was disappointed to see the current Mayoral administration’s cuts for programs for our
Seniors and shocked at the effort to take space away from the Callahan Senior Center.
Even worse, the administration’s failure – for months – to distribute 300 donated
ChromeBooks to homebound seniors during the pandemic (while the school department
successfully and promptly distributed thousands of ChromeBooks district-wide to
students in need in a single weekend) is a complete administrative and managerial
failure- that still today has never been explained or apologized for.

Specifically, I plan to:
• Challenge Framingham’s public agencies, businesses, cultural, educational, and
religious institutions, and community groups to consider how they can change
policy and practices to enhance the quality of life for our senior residents.

• Collaborate with the Framingham Council on Aging / Callahan Center to improve
the healthy aging of a broader segment of the 55 and older population of
Framingham by implementing more programs.

• Provide the coordination and support required to ensure adequate staffing and
resources to serve the senior population.

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176