Q&A With Framingham District 7 City Council Candidate Leora Mallach

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Editor’s Note: SOURCE conducted a Q&A with Leora Mallach for the preliminary election. You canread those response here.

Leora Mallach

Which pronoun do you prefer? She/Hers

Occupation: Co-Founder and Executive Director, Beantown Jewish Gardens; Owner and Artist B.B.batiks; Landscaper, Rehl Gardens

Why should voters elected you for District 7 City Councilor: I grew up in a civically minded family and work passionately for causes I believe in, including founding a non-profit organization that teaches about healthy and sustainable food systems. I am the best candidate to represent the varied perspectives that are District 7 in the City Council.

I am an educator by training, and think about how our decisions affect the next generation. We
must continue to invest in our schools, and build a strong foundation for our kids to grow. We
need to commit to building a new elementary school on the south side of our City.

I value community and after moving to Framingham I initiated meeting my neighbors quickly;
hosting a block party after 4 months. For two years I have been on the Agricultural Advisory
Committee and I am a member worker at Stearns Farm CSA. My little free library and front yard
pollinator gardens are intentional ways I create opportunity for community exchange.
The role of the City Councilor is to be a line of communication between people in the community and the city government – and to help information flow both ways. As I knock on doors and meet residents, I am thinking about how communication happens between neighbors, districts and in our community.

If elected, I will work to develop robust lines of communication between our local government, residents and business owners.

I have been meeting District 7 representatives who currently serve on a variety of boards,
committees and commissions in our City. I have been meeting with City administrative staff and front line workers. I find it inspiring to hear their reasons for serving, and look forward to working alongside them.

Political Website or Facebook page link to find more information: 
https://www.facebook.com/Leora-for-City-Council-112541207762768

Describe the City of Framingham in 3 words  Diverse and divided

Best thing about District 7 is: walkable neighborhood that includes, parks, beaches and long time residents living alongside new families.
District 7 needs Me!

Report Card time. What letter grade would you give the Mayor? C. As an educator, I’ve never liked letter grades – there’s no opportunity to reflect on strengths and areas for growth.

Should the Mayor be required to attend every City Council meeting? (yes or no) The Mayor, or a representative of the office, should attend all City Council meetings.

Participation in government by the City’s 70,000-plus residents is (fabulous, adequate, or lacking) (pick one)? More people are paying attention than participating

City of Framingham did an (amazing, adequate, or poor job) (pick one) when it came to the Coronavirus pandemic Is still working on it!

Should City of Framingham municipal employees be required to get a COVID vaccine? (yes or no) Yes

City of Framingham is on (the right track, spinning its wheels, going backwards) (pick one):
Full of potential

Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? (yes or no) Yes

Should City offices close early on Fridays? (yes or no) To be determined by the ability of the City to provide services to residents.

City of Framingham is (ahead of the curve, making progress, or behind its neighboring communities) when it comes to environmental issues
Slowly catching up

Framingham has (too many, right amount or too few affordable housing units) (pick one)
Like all of metrowest, in need of affordable housing

Do you support in-law apartments in the City of Framingham? (yes or no) Yes, I support establishing accessory dwelling units if zoned well.

Butterworth Park is used (too much, right amount, not enough) (pick one) Being used more and more by the City and local residents.

Downtown Framingham is (thriving or surviving)  (pick one) Surviving

My favorite business in District 7 is Jack’s Abby

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

Editor’s Note: if a question is blank the candidate chose not to answer it.


What City Council subcommittee do you wish to serve on? Environment and Sustainability, Planning & Zoning

The #1 issue I hear from residents in my district about is The tension between the mayor and city council


QUESTION #1: 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?

Traffic is a top issue that I have heard about from a lot of residents. We need to figure out what the best format is for addressing traffic concerns so that both the needs and opinions of local residents, and big picture traffic flow are taken into account. We must consider if establishing a traffic department in our city is in our best interests, or maintaining a traffic commission is. I do not yet know the best answer, but believe that is where we should look.

QUESTION #2: 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?


The recent tax increase on my water and sewer bill sucked. I understand the need to maintain and update our aging water and sewer infrastructure, and that it was deferred for many years. I do not have a plan to get that fund on firmer financial footing, as there are many who have been thinking about it for longer than I have who are still struggling to find the answer.


QUESTION #3: 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?


Reading the proposals and watching the recent meeting to discuss the survey responses was interesting and it seemed there were similar priorities and ways to work together between the various city administration and school department proposals. The intention of the funds is to help with pandemic recovery and I favored proposals that were focused on business support and development, and not on establishing new programs that would then need to be funded from the city in future years.

I have been thinking a lot about communication between residents, councilors, and the city services. Current councilors all have different ways of communicating with their residents which allows for personal style. Throughout this campaign I have been sending a weekly email and attending local events as much as possible, in addition to regular social media posting. I plan to continue these three areas of effort. In addition, I intend to hold regular “office hours” alternatively online and in person (likely at Butterworth Park). I am the only candidate who has been translating my campaign materials and will work to have translation available at my in-person events as well.

QUESTION #4: Do you think District 7 is safe? Why or why not? How will you work with the Mayor and the police department to make sure all residents enjoy a good quality of life?

When I considered buying a home in this District (as I wanted to feel safe walking to and from the train station in the dark) I thought about this a lot. Regarding our downtown area, I had an
informative conversation with Police Chief Baker and Deputy Chief Riley about employing a Hub model, such as in Chelsea, that engages leaders of community agencies for weekly meetings. This idea is that often individuals (and families) need support from a variety of services, and this provides agencies to be in communication, and hold each other accountable. This model of collaboration appeals to me and I will work to support its implementation in Framingham. The more we build the economic engine, the better our quality of life will be. Since the downtown area is included in three City political districts, I will work with the councilors from 8 & 9 to focus attention and resources towards revitalizing our downtown and develop a well-rounded, balanced approach to growth and address issues of concern.

QUESTION #5:  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.


I have heard often from residents about their concerns and embarrassment about the hostile relationship between the mayor and the city council. In my meetings with municipal staff, I have often asked what they would like to see from city council and the overwhelming response has been open lines of communication and respect for the job they do.

Since the tension that exists comes from two parties, it will require both sides to commit to a more productive working relationship. I would like to see less demanding and condemning from the City Councilors in their interactions with the city employees and each other. I commit to listening and learning from municipal department heads, and all staff.

QUESTION #6: 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?


I am committed to building a Framingham that is welcoming for all. We are trending in that direction, with actions as simple as raising a pride flag at City Hall. There are some grassroots conversations happening such as Community Vibes, and some structural work with the hiring of a City Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer all of which points us on the right track.

I was on the steering committee for the Metrowest Immigrant Solidarity Network and was involved in some food distribution efforts at the start of the pandemic. Our city’s public health department did a great job in coordinating emergency food support systems for those who were suddenly without income. I support legislation in the MA statehouse that would allow for drivers licenses for undocumented residents as I believe it makes everyone safer.


QUESTION #7: Some believe Framingham is becoming unaffordable. Seniors, Veterans, immigrants, etc have said it is expensive to live here. Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, what will you do as a Councilor to keep it affordable.


All reports indicate we have a housing shortage in Metrowest Boston. I am not a housing expert, but the more I read about it, the more I believe that creating a diversified portfolio of housing stock is one good way to help costs stabilize. I think all development in Framingham should be driven by thoughtful engagement with the 2015 Land Use Master Plan that was updated in 2020 and can be found here:
https://www.framinghamma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/42432/Framingham-Master-
Plan-2020-Update

editor

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


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