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?
One of the most important issues facing the City of Somerville is how we should manage development. I believe that we need to take a two-fold approach. One the one hand, we should review our current zoning to insure that we protect our existing residential neighborhoods from large, dense developments that detract from the overall quality of life in those neighborhoods. In a larger sense, we should work to make Somerville a community where folks from a variety of backgrounds want to make Somerville their home for the long-term and participate in our community. We should also promote large scale, good quality economic growth in areas such as Assembly Square, the Inner Belt and North Point. We must especially promote high tech, office, biotech, and research and development uses that will bring good paying jobs and substantial property tax payments to reduce the property tax burden on our residential home owners. I have already taken action on this issue by supporting zoning amendments that would reduce the size and scale of developments in certain areas of the City that abut our well-established residential areas, while, at the same time, promoting sound zoning to further economic development in other areas, such as the pending North Point zoning.
A second important issue facing the City is to take steps to insure that we continue to improve our school system and take other measures to keep young families in our City. For a number of years I was quite dismayed to see our school enrollment numbers decline as families left our City. Families with their involvement in a community’s civic and social structure help give it life and make it vibrant. We have taken great strides to improve the reputation of our school system (as witnessed by the recent MCAS score results) and enrollment numbers are increasing. We should similarly take steps to improve our recreational programs and park availability. Also, we must look into increasing the housing stock of affordable multi-bedroom housing so that families with children can remain in a community.
Question: Tell us about your background.
I grew up in a blue collar family near the current Target, when slaughter houses still operated. I graduated from Somerville High School in 1973, and, with the help of many people, I received scholarships to attend Harvard College, where I graduated with honors with a degree in government and economics, followed by Georgetown Law School where I graduated with honors. I then served as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge. During my early years of law practice, I worked in complex litigation for firms and corporations. I then opened a local practice in Somerville in 1995 and now have my office in Magoun Square. Because of the help that I received from my community as a child, I believe it is important for me to give back to our City through my work as an alderman. My education, training and experience have been helpful to me when the Board of Aldermen has addressed complex legal and financial issues.
Question: Why should Somerville residents vote for you?
I am a known commodity, through my service on the Board of Aldermen during these years. I believe that I have developed a reputation for being an independent elected official who listens to my constituents, responds to their communications, asks the hard questions during the debate, and then makes the hard decisions based on my view of whether the item will positively impact Somerville. With that in mind, I have worked, and will continue to work, to make Somerville a community that helps all of its residents thrive by promoting residential home ownership, by striving for good economic development, by welcoming diversity, by fostering civility and safe and affordable dwellings, by enabling participation in community services and local government, by supporting fairness in access to opportunities and services, by reducing violence, by supporting social and economic justice, by encouraging awareness and understanding of opportunities, and by working for a more sustainable community for present and future residents. For more information, please visit my campaign website at www.aldermanwhite.org.