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?
Most Important Issue Facing Ward 2:
Preserve and respect neighborhoods- I will request a
resident-driven planning and visioning process that will identify unique
residential neighborhoods and identify the impact of zoning and development on
those neighborhoods, and recommend changes to preserve what’s important to
2. Continued focus on flooding and drainage-This is a quality of life issue which affects many W 2 residents-I will request an expansion of the short term work already underway in the Washington/Dane street area and request that the City articulate a long term financial and structural commitment toward resolution of this issue.
Thoughts on new or changing developments being built:
Each development has its own benefits and unique set of
challenges. Overall, as each is evaluated, impact on neighborhoods becomes very
important. I have seen both old and new zoning impact a neighborhood adversely-
so the answer is not necessarily to retain old zoning or to recommend new but,
to make sure that any project sufficiently addresses the concerns of a
neighborhood while making a positive impact on the overall vision of an area
and contributes to the future vision of the City.
In addition, since the only relief for the residential tax burden is to expand the commercial tax base, there should be a concerted effort to maximize that type of development.
Start up obstacles for business:
Ward 2 has recently seen some new businesses spring up especially related to the food industry. From my perspective there needs to be a better coordination of all of the required inspections and sign off which are very important, but which need to be coordinated and scheduled in a much more efficient way. We must also recognize that we may need additional staff to handle the volume of business coming our way and evaluate the demand in relation to the resources. Complaints I have encountered are related to lack of coordination and a clear pathway to an efficient outcome.
Question: Tell us about your background.
I am a lifelong resident of Somerville and grew up on Beacon Street in a working class family, attended UMass Boston, and was only able to pursue a Master’s degree in Sociology at BU with the help of a research grant from NIMH.
I have had a long career in health care have been fortunate to be able to live and work in the City that I serve as an Alderman.
During the time I spent at Harvard Vanguard I became involved in the Somerville Chamber of Commerce and the Davis Square Business Interest group and participated in the then fledgling event- Art Beat. From there I began to think about how the City I grew up in was evolving from one with negative connotations, to one which had wonderful possibilities. I became involved in City issues and accepted a position on the Zoning Board offered to me by then Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay. In 1999 I ran for the Ward 2 Alderman’s seat and lost to the incumbent only to be endorsed by him when he decided to leave mid -term in 2000- I was not appointed, but engaged in a tough campaign to win the seat.
From the outset I have felt that basic quality of life issues impacting residents are the key to a healthy city and that if those issues are not addressed, then all of the grand plans in the world will not bring good results. That is why I put so much emphasis and faith in departments such as Police, Fire, and DPW the work of which I believe are the cornerstones to any great City.
As the Ward 2 Alderman I have worked hard on open space issues- one of my first acts was to transform a concrete island on Concord Ave to a green oasis- followed by a new Perry Park, Palmacci Park and two Community gardens. My first challenge as an Alderman was to petition the State to reject the plans for the Argenziano School because it cut off a significant view and portion of open space to Lincoln Park residents and that fight was won. I led a Committee of the Board of Aldermen which took on the rodent issue in the city, a problem I was unafraid to make public, resulting in a new trash ordinance and I have recently been asked to revive that Committee to continue the work. More recently I have lobbied the City to come up with short and long term solution to the century old problem of flooding in Ward 2 and that was the motivation for my work on the pervious surface ordinance passed a few years ago. The elimination of the Waste Transfer station at Brickbottom was a priority that was accomplished to open Ward 2 up to new vistas and a better quality of life experience for Brickbottom residents.
Ward 2 represents an area of the City that has the most rapidly changing landscape of all the Wards in the City. The potential for change is everywhere whether it be the GLX, reconfiguration of McGrath Hwy., heightened interest by new businesses, zoning and development, or the enormous infrastructure challenge we face in addressing drainage issues and reconfiguration of Union Square. But with change comes an ever-important need to focus to stay grounded in basic quality of life issues and the preservation of neighborhoods.
The neighborhood I grew up in is almost unrecognizable new neighbors, restaurants, buildings and stores have sprung up, but the sociologist in me recognizes that Cities are living, breathing entities, not stagnant but ever-changing. However, they need to change in ways that work for all residents.
When I was a very little girl, the spectacle of Union square was dazzling, huge activity, lots of store a place of significance and a sense of “home” for Somerville residents. It was the pre-mall center of activity; it died slowly over the decades, but is now coming back in a different but no less significant form. The challenge will be to keep it grounded and retain that sense of home for all of the residents of Somerville.
Role of Ward Alderman: I see this role as that of an advocate for basic quality of life issues for residents, insuring that needs are met and problems addressed, as well as one which navigates the larger spectrum of issues such as housing, jobs, infrastructure improvements and commercial development collaboratively at the city level.
I believe we can embrace the future while retaining what is important and precious to all who live in the City by truly evaluating each issue and opportunity and staying ahead of the curve by defining neighborhoods and what will keep them intact.
Question: Why should Somerville residents vote for you?
No response to this question.