Q&A With District 5 City Council Candidate Noval Alexander

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Noval Alexander

(pronounced like No’vol)

Which pronoun do you prefer? He, Him

Occupation: Middle School Teacher’s aide

Why should voters elected you for District 5 City Councilor: I’m seeking to become the next District 5 City Councilor because Framingham used to be the shining star, the hub of the MetroWest region. I want to get us back to those days gone by. Envisioning that, I have a heartfelt genuine interest to making Framingham a more desirable place for families to raise their children.

Secondly, I want to work with Councilors and other stakeholders to change the perception that Framingham is an unfriendly place to do or conduct business.

Lastly but equally important I’m running to ensure Framingham gets on the bandwagon to meet and exceed the Commonwealth’s carbon net zero 2050 standards and getting our
Community to be the leader in local climate change mitigation.

In addition, and in conjunction to the reasons for seeking a seat on Council I’ve been frustrated and appalled by the toxic relationship between the Council and the Mayor, vice versa and the often-witnessed political faction infighting within the Council itself. If elected I pledge to address this lack of leadership attribute. I understand the need to fight for what you believe in and debates can get heated, its human nature. We as leaders need to recognize when these debates get off the rails someone needs to step into the breach to reign the Council in and get back on track. The business of our City government is to NOT keep tally for a political scorecard, being a mouthpiece for ANY political faction or Mayor, disparaging other elected representatives and other unsavory behaviors. Our business is to make Framingham better for everyone, to adopt a visionary mindset and elevate us to greater heights, do it all respectfully and with some humility along the way.

Describe the City of Framingham in 3 words  A diverse, dynamic gem

Best thing about District 5 is it encapsulates most of what Framingham has to offer. Quality education, parks, successful businesses and quality grocery chains.

District 5 needs  Visionary leadership.

Report Card time. What letter grade would you give the Mayor? This year unlike two years ago we have a Mayoral race. I gave a grade in 2019, but I will not give a grade on our current Mayor this year, I’ll defer that to the people of Framingham.

Should the Mayor be required to attend every City Council meeting? No, the Executive Branch needs flexibility to run the day to day business of Framingham.

Report Card time: What letter grade would you give the District 5 City Councilor Robert Case? Our outgoing Councilor deserves a grade of C. I appreciate his service and dedication to our District and Framingham as a former Town Meeting member and current City Councilmember. I wish him and his family godspeed.

Participation in government by the City’s 70,000-plus residents is (fabulous, adequate, or lacking) (pick one)? Participation as far as people attending meetings and weighing in? or Participation getting involved in boards and commissions? As far as I can see it’s mixed; the former is lacking and adequate for the latter. I’d like to see a better cross section of geographical areas and demographics, bold vision and out of the box ideas on key boards and commissions.

City of Framingham did an (amazing, adequate, or poor job) (pick one) when it came to the Coronavirus pandemic. Again, like my previous response its mixed. Initially the administration response was poor but as we got into the summer of 2020 and fall it became more adequate.

Should City of Framingham municipal employees be required to get a COVID vaccine? (yes or no) I think public employees like myself (as I have done personally) should do the responsible act to roll up their sleeves and get the jab. However, on a professional level mandating a vaccine should be arrived at after a mutual agreement between the Administration and our valuable municipal employees. In short yes

City of Framingham is on (the right track, spinning its wheels, going backwards) (pick one): spinning wheels and slinging mud in all directions.

Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? Yes, I support a split rate

Should City offices close early on Fridays? That should be an executive branch decision in consultation with department heads and employees.

City of Framingham is (ahead of the curve, making progress, or behind its neighboring communities) when it comes to environmental issues. In many ways woefully behind.

Framingham has (too many, right amount or too few affordable housing units) (pick one) too few but we need to clearly define what “affordable” is.

Do you support in-law apartments in the City of Framingham? Sounds good on the surface but definitely needs more careful consideration, neither yes or no

Bowditch Field is the right amount of use (too much, right amount, not enough)

Editor’s Note: Where an answer is left blank, the candidate chose not to answer the question.


Route 9 is (past its prime, surviving, booming center of commerce) in Framingham (pick one) Can’t objectively pick one because parts of it looks worn and past its prime full of potholes and some empty commercial spaces, then there are parts in the District 5 stretch that are booming and signs of growth (Whole Foods expansion, Union Twist Cannibis shop) pockmarked with ruts and potholes and the eastern stretch looks like all 3 with less potholes.


Framingham Public Schools receive (too little, just the right amount, or too much) funding. Contrary to what some have been made to believe, I and others have witnessed and can attest that our public schools have been underfunded by executive branch leadership for at least 3 years. In a few instances over the last several fiscal years the schools have given back money to the city coffers for cityside operational deficits. So in short too little for sure.

What City Council subcommittee do you wish to serve on? Education, Veterans and Environmental sustainability (and if voters elect me I’d like an opportunity to be considered by my peers for a leadership role on one of those Subcommittees)

The #1 issue I hear from residents in my district about is Quality of life. Within that broad issue the break down In particular are speeding down main arterial streets, cars cutting through and speeding down secondary roads. Peak hour and pleasant weekend weather day congestion at intersections car stereos booming or high acceleration (gunning it) with altered exhaust pipes violating noise ordinances.

QUESTION #1: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing District 5?  What will you do – specific steps – to fix the issue?

Traffic congestion at major intersections and many motorists increasingly dangerous disregard for other motorists, pedestrians to include our seniors and school children in the Musterfield/John J Brady housing areas is a major public safety hazard. These issues also create idling vehicles and are counter to meeting our net zero carbon 2050 emission goals.

One solution is to alleviate congestion is to employ existing technology to synchronize the roughly 10 traffic lights from Cochituate Road (Route 30) and Concord Road Intersections thru Downtown Framingham to the Burkis Square (Irving & Hollis Sts) intersection. I intend to galvanize stakeholders like the Traffic Commission, Police Advisory Board, DPW and our City Citizen Participation Officer to recommend solutions. In the end we may have to revisit relevant ordinances to amend or adopt new ones. It’s unrealistic to think we can eliminate the problem, but we can do more to alleviate congestion to make our neighborhoods safer and air quality better.


QUESTION #2: Speeding and traffic are top issues for 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?

I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for individuals willing and able to serve this Community. I believe they are doing their best with the tools and resources given. This question is surely linked to the previous. I believe it’s’ part of the job of a Councilor to bring together elements of City government and residents to tackle pressing issues that matter to a particular neighborhood. As District Councilor I would work my hardest to ensure the best
possible communication occurs between the people and City government.

QUESTION #3: District 5 could be nicknamed the Education District. It is home to Framingham State University, MassBay Community College (and the soon to be constructed new MassBay building), the new Fuller Middle School, and McCarthy Elementary School. Both of you served on the Framingham School Committee at one point. What was YOUR biggest accomplishment on the School Committee? How will you support education in Framingham as a City Councilor? Be specific.

I’m unabashedly proud of my roles on the School Committee and Fuller School Building Committee in helping to get Fuller Middle School built, under budget and on time and equally important safely without COVID cases or on site injuries. We are very fortunate to have 3 academic institutions located within the District. Not many Communities can boast that and I feel as an educator that adequately funded and targeted investments in our public schools
are the key to economic vitality for Framingham.

While Fuller was a huge accomplishment my biggest accomplishment while serving on School Committee was erasing the school lunch debts and creating a no shaming policy for
school lunch staff and other non affected students. That single measure was crosscutting affecting students and families of every racial, cultural demographic and socioeconomic condition. As an educator and a School Committee member it was unacceptable that we have chronically hungry kids attending our schools. Quite simply a hungry student is an academically unproductive student.

QUESTION #4: Which vote of the current District 5 City Councilor would you have voted differently on and why?

There’s no vote I can recall that I would vote differently.

QUESTION #5: The City Council is the legislative branch of government. It creates laws and rules for the City (known as ordinances). What ordinance would you file to improve your
district (or city-wide) if elected? Why?

After consultations with stakeholders and Councilors I’d like to file a Smart-Growth integration action plan. Many residents believe there are too many multi-unit dwellings being built around
the city in the last few years. My Smart growth plan will require commercial and residential developers of any dwelling / building over a certain square footage to go thru a holistic clearinghouse from existing entities like the planning board, environmental sustainability committee before granting a permit. These entities will study the potential environmental impacts to our roads, sanitation/recycling water/sewer usage, school enrollment.


QUESTION #6: The water & sewer enterprise fund is hemorrhaging money according to an independent consultant’s report. What legislation or steps would you put forth to get that fund on firmer financial footing?

I would like to explore getting more oversight over the fund. I would like to see if its’ possible to have the Council and Mayor set the rates. In addition; perhaps an annual ad-hoc committee that will report the solvency and any other relevant info to include future projections to assist in setting rates.

QUESTION #7: The Spicer administration did a survey to see how the City should spend more than $25 million in federal pandemic recovery funds. The survey had less than 500 responses from a community of more than 70,000. What is your #1 priority on how to spend the ARPA funds? Why? And how will you get input from your district’s residents on this issue and other key issues if elected?

I’m not completely clear on where these ARPA funds can be applied to but if permitted we can assist restaurants in waiving certain fees for a temporary period, put those funds into addressing long standing capital projects, mental health issues for our young people or assisting our homeless population. Although well intentioned by the administration the outreach strategy obviously fell far short as well as other key shortcomings. If elected I
would use quarterly Councilor constituent meetings to garner more response and if necessary, I would personally visit random homes throughout the District to educate and get more opinions.


QUESTION #8: Do you think the City of Framingham is safe? Why or why not? How will you work with the Mayor and the police department to make sure Framingham all residents enjoy a good quality of life?

I believe for the most part our City is generally safe, we have petty crimes and crimes of opportunity like most smaller sized Cities similar to ours. There’s also a perception amongst many that Downtown Framingham is not a safe area. We have a serious vagrancy problem which is multi faceted and complex.

If elected I would like to hold a public summit to include non profit organizations, health officials, to explore solutions to help the affected population,
hopefully reduce vagrancy and over time it will change the perception of our Downtown business district.

QUESTION #9: The City Council is responsible for approving the budget that is submitted by the Mayor. The City Council can not increase a budget under the charter, only decrease it. Which city department is underfunded in your opinion? Why?

I don’t know why or what’s the methodology behind underfunding certain departments but I would like to see Councilors adopting a budgetary mindset of reducing redundancies where feasible and increase funding to invest in areas that will improve and preserve City owned properties.

As previously stated, I think the school department budget has been underfunded in terms of
emanating from local property taxes. Our student enrollment has increased, our school environments haven’t yet recovered from remote learning during the height of the pandemic.
our English language learner population have increased as well and need support. We need to
view our schools as an integral part of our economy in terms of an investment on future returns. Residents without children or with grown children out of the system need to stay
engaged and realize the perception of good public schools has a direct correlation on
property values.


QUESTION #10:  There have been more than a dozen department heads who have left the Spicer administration since January 2020, including two more departments in the last 90 days. What role do you think the City Council played in the departure? How can the legislative branch support municipal department heads? Give specific examples.

Its difficult to say or determine that the City Council played a direct role in key departures. Many left for greener pastures and possibly other reasons. What I believe the Council can do is encourage municipal department heads to hold sensing sessions or confidential work environment surveys to gauge morale.

QUESTION #11:  Several businesses closed during the pandemic. Some that made it into 2021, are still struggling. What legislation or steps can the City Council take to support local businesses in the City of Framingham not only survive but thrive? Be specific.

Its unfortunate and tragic some of our businesses have shuttered, I believe Council and the Mayor can come together and propose simple but impactful policies or temporarily suspending/reducing certain mandatory fees to assist businesses.

One idea I’d like to explore is creating a temporary tiered reduction in commercial property tax for up to 5 years starting in FY24 to attract new businesses to Framingham depending on its size or amount of employees.

QUESTION #12: Senior Citizens and Veterans are struggling to afford Framingham. How will you support them and keep the City affordable for them?

Other than the school aged youths, seniors and Vets are one of the most vulnerable but valued populations in our City. I’d like to explore giving more opportunities for Seniors and Vets to volunteer throughout the community and that service can be credited toward a reduction in property taxes.

If elected I’d like Council to institute a customer service metric for the boards and commissions that oversee Senior and Veterans services to ensure proficiency and user satisfaction.

QUESTION #13: The Mayor presents a proposal to the 11-member City Council. If elected, how would you evaluate whether or not the project is worthy of your vote? Be specific.

Similar to what I’ve done serving on the School Committee I’d evaluate how a proposed
measure would benefit the City, the next criteria is the cost and how that would impact our budget and other priorities. If the proposal will affect our environment and if my smart growth action plan is in effect, I will encourage the Mayor and Council to refer it to the appropriate entities that comprise the smart-growth clearinghouse for further review and recommendations.


QUESTION #14: Over the last two years, there have been racist acts, anti-Semitic incidents, and Hate crimes committed in the City of Framingham. How can Framingham be a more welcoming City for all? Describe your experience in being a part of or serving an underrepresented segment of the City. What steps will you take to reduce bias and champion diversity and inclusion in Framingham?

The incidences of hate crimes to include racist and or anti-semitic acts are heinous and atrocious. We profess constantly we are a proud and diverse community and that much is true. These acts have steadily increased over the last 5 years or so and there are many driving factors in society that are fueling them. I’d say the first thing leaders can do is to be the change and start acting civil toward each other. When acts occur, all elected bodies need to publicly reaffirm our shared values and commitment to eradicate the cancer of hate crimes and reiterate that our police will find and fully prosecute perpetrators.

QUESTION #15: There is a marijuana dispensary authorized for District 5. It was the first license awarded by the Spicer administration, but it has yet to open. The City has awarded 6 licenses. Now a request has been made for an additional marijuana license. Would you support it? Why?

I believe Council needs to evaluate the economic efficacy of granting 6 licenses. There may be
an issue of supply and demand which is counterproductive to the original intent. We want our businesses regardless of the type or size to flourish and grow.


editor

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