Thank you to the Daily Collegian for its interest in the Town Council election and for publishing candidate responses to their questionnaire. Below are my responses (we were limited to around a total of 300-400 words). Look for the Daily Collegian article soon!
What previous experience qualifies you for the office you are seeking, i.e. involvement with town meetings, current position title?
Current: Town Meeting Member (7 years); Court Appointed Special Advocate, Friends of Children
Former: Vice-Chair, Charter Commission; Rental Bylaw Implementation Group (renter representative); Electronic Voting Study Committee; Pioneer Valley Symphony Board (6 years, 3 years President)
How long have you been a resident of Amherst?
What is your primary motivation in running for this office?
I am running to ensure the Town Council promotes greater resident participation in the decisions being made by Town officials. One way is through partnerships with local businesses and organizations for holding forums.
This will be Amherst’s first town council. How do you envision the town council operating in the town, and what will you do to create this vision?
The Council should operate in a transparent, open, and inclusive way. I will advocate for timely electronic posting of minutes and more detailed agendas so that residents can better track the Council’s operations. I will push for holding regular forums with a variety of days, times and locations, so that as many residents as possible can contribute.
What is the biggest issue facing the town of Amherst right now?
The biggest issue facing Amherst is how to manage its population growth in a way that doesn’t price people out, but also keeps and improves on the things we value, like open space and vibrant town centers.
If elected, what would be three priorities on your agenda?
My three priorities are (1) responsibly funding voter-approved capital projects; (2) creating a comprehensive plan to address Amherst’s housing needs, including affordable housing, family housing, and student housing; and (3) enacting form-based zoning, to ensure new buildings fit into the surrounding streetscape.
Amherst is home to two institutions of higher learning, and in relative proximity to three others. As a town council member, what role do you feel Amherst College and UMass should play in town decisions?
UMass, Amherst College and Hampshire College are three of the largest employers in Town and house a large fraction of Amherst’s population. We must be partners, working towards a vibrant, healthy Town. Our officials need to openly and effectively communicate with each other and work together to achieve mutually beneficial goals, like the UMass off-campus housing office has with the Amherst Police Department. At the same time, the Town must advocate for what it needs from these institutions.
As a town council member, how would you balance the concerns of students with the concerns of permanent town residents?
I believe the concerns of all residents should be equally important to Town Councilors, whether the residents live in Amherst year-round or not, and that Councilors should strive to address them all in as beneficial manner as possible.
If elected, how would you hold yourself and other council members accountable?
At a minimum, I would make sure all votes are recorded so that residents know how Councilors voted and meeting minutes are published in a timely manner. Further, once elected, we will all need to continue to reach out to and seek the opinions of residents to determine whether our actions conform to the desires of the residents.