Question: What are the two most important issues facing Somerville right now, and what would you do on the Board of Aldermen to address those issues?
Affordability and Development are two of the most important issues facing Somerville right now. These two issues affect many aspects of our quality of life here, and they are related; quality development can create good local jobs, help to pay for city services and make Somerville even more livable. Development in the Assembly Square area, the development planned for the Inner Belt area, the Green Line Extension (GLX) and the future development that will come with the GLX, all have the potential to provide high quality commercial/mixed-use space, new businesses and jobs.
On the Board of Aldermen I would take a comprehensive approach to keeping Somerville livable and affordable, both by supporting the creation of affordable housing options and by supporting high quality commercial and mixed-use development that respects our neighborhoods, in our squares and on our main streets.
On the economic development side I would work to promote planning, permitting and outreach, to encourage good development, and new businesses to locate here. I’d work especially for class B office space development that is suitable for small businesses and start-ups, and appropriate for our City’s special character and scale. If we can create conditions that allow businesses to start and stay here in Somerville then we’ll also improve our local economy with new jobs. When Residents have access to good local jobs then the cost of living becomes more manageable. I’ll work for new quality commercial development that will make room for new businesses and the good jobs they create.
Right now fewer than 20% of Somerville residents work in Somerville; almost everybody who lives here works somewhere else. More office space in our squares will allow new businesses to create job opportunities for residents, and new businesses will help to pay for city services and improve the local economy during the day by populating the squares during business hours.
To increase affordability I would advocate in support of affordable housing to maintain economic diversity and help keep residents and families in their Somerville homes. I’ll also work hard to help residents find access to job training and job placement services so that Somerville residents will take some of the jobs that will be created by development in Somerville.
As Alderman I’ll support permitting for smart, mixed-use, transit-oriented developments that meet our city’s affordable housing goals and add space for new businesses and good local jobs. I’ll work hard to plan for economic development that helps us all to have an affordable high quality of life here in our terrific city.
Question: Tell us about your background.
Katjana Ballantyne put herself through college and graduate school earning a B.A. in Political Science from St. Michael’s College, Vermont, and an MBA with an entrepreneurship focus from Suffolk University, Boston.
She’s worked for 27 years with international companies, local non-profits, start-ups and has co-founded a local company. Now as the CEO & Executive Director of Girls' LEAP, Katjana brings talented people and resources together to train at-risk girls to champion their well-being for a lifetime, with safety skills and self-awareness.
Katjana has made Teele Square her home these past twenty years with husband Richard and her daughters; Iliana, a junior at Somerville High School and Sophia in Kindergarten at Unidos. She’s raised her family here and fought for smart development, local jobs, better transportation and great schools in Somerville.
Katjana is a committed Democrat; her campaign for Alderman is endorsed by the Progressive Democrats of Somerville (PDS) and the Sierra Club of Massachusetts. Katjana was elected to serve as a member of the Democratic City Committee for Ward 7 and elected as a Delegate to the State Democratic Convention. She was Ward 7 Canvass Leader for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign and a volunteer for Edward Markey’s Senate election.
Katjana has become known as an inclusive community leader in her two decades of local volunteering. She has worked with Somerville community organizations to create affordable housing, provide new small business space and teach financial literacy.
Katjana wants to put her experience to work as Alderman to make Somerville even better for families, professionals, young people and seniors. Find out more about Katjana at: http://www.Katjana.org
Question: Why should Somerville residents vote for you?
I’m running for Alderman Ward 7 because I love Somerville. It’s a great place and we can make it even better! I have the experience, commitment and leadership skills to get the job done for the people of Ward 7.
I’d like to put my business and community development experience to work for our Ward as Alderman. My 27 years of experience with international and local companies, including community development non-profits prepares me to guide economic development and planning on the Board of Aldermen.
I’ve shown my commitment to Somerville by making Teele Square my home and by two decades of active, local volunteering. I chose Teele Square twenty years ago because of its special character and livability. I’ve stayed here because of the family and community bonds that we’ve made through working together for smart development, affordability, great schools and better transportation.
I am a community leader here in Somerville. I work to bring people together to shape our neighborhoods inclusively. We’ve accomplished many great things together, but there’s much more to be done. Let’s keep working together to make Somerville even better for families, professionals, young people and seniors!
I ask you for your vote on November 5th for Alderman Ward 7.