The Republican recently sent a survey to all the candidates. Below are my responses (limited to 100 words per questions).
1] Amherst North Common
What are your thoughts on the “preferred concept” recently submitted by the planning department?
The re-design of the North Common is intended to last more than 50 years. It needs to fulfill our vision for the downtown 20 or 50 years from now. My North Common vision creates a welcoming gathering place for community events, vigils, and protests; multiple seating options; tables; and places for children to play. Removing most parking from in front of Town Hall fits with this vision, though some nearby short-term for those doing business in Town Hall is necessary. We must stop considering projects in a vacuum and start seeing each one as part of a long-range plan.
2] University-Town of Amherst Collaborative (UTAC)
The UTAC has largely been inactive since the spring. Is the UTAC a useful vehicle for dialogue and/or what could be done to make better use of that structure? For example, when UMass announced last month that they would seek a developer to build additional housing, for 1,000 undergraduates, on the south side of Massachusetts Avenue, could that have been something that included more UTAC involvement?
UTAC can be a useful vehicle for dialogue, but it should not be the only one. Amherst and UMass need a multi-faceted approach to collaboration and conversation that includes partnerships between relevant Town committees and departments and the appropriate offices at UMass. Direct dialogue between the right individuals and groups may better serve both entities. The party registration program is a great example of the type of collaboration we should foster. Including the Town in conversations relating to public-private partnership development plans for student housing, through UTAC or another committee, is another place where dialogue is appropriate.
3] Strategic Partnership Agreement between Amherst and UMass
The current agreement signed in 2015 expires next year. What changes, if any, would you insist on as a member of the Town Council?
If given the opportunity to influence the next Strategic Partnership Agreement, I would like to see:
- Fair compensation for ambulance and fire services provided to the UMass campus;
- Fair compensation for K-12 education services provided to students living in tax-exempt University housing;
- Cooperation and collaboration between police departments;
- Cooperation agreements for public works services, such as public street and sidewalk paving and clearing;
- Payments equal to the occupancy fee that would be imposed under the local bylaw if Hotel UMass were privately owned and operated; and
- Agreements regarding evening use of UMass parking lots by residents.
4] Municipal Finance
What is your budget/fiscal experience and background, and what sort of financial acumen would you bring to the Council?
I have a B.A. in Economics and a J.D. (inactive license in MA). My education included accounting and finance courses. I am comfortable reading and understanding financial statements, both detailed and not. In addition, during my three years as President of the Pioneer Valley Symphony, I was integral to the management of the budget to reverse an ongoing operating deficit that resulted in operating surpluses in multiple years. I am a detail oriented person (as seen from my work on the Charter Commission) that will bring a holistic approach to budgeting and services in Town.
5] Town Meeting/Legislative function of Council
When any legislative action is required, that had previously been a town meeting function:
A] Should those types of duties, in terms of scheduling, be discussed and acted on by the Council at meetings when only those town meeting functions would/could be on that meeting agenda?
B] Please discuss your reasoning
The President sets the agendas, with members’ advice, and must consider the time necessary for each item and the urgency of the matter. The Council must consider proposed bylaw changes at two separate meetings, but it is not necessary to segregate discussions on these matters from other business of the Council. Agendas must be specific enough to inform the public of the discussions to be held and the Council must be proactive in notifying the public of the anticipated timeline for the deliberations, so that interested individuals have the ability to offer feedback and comments prior to, and during, deliberations.
6] Term of Office
How long would you like to serve on the Town Council?
If elected, I plan to serve the entire 3 year term for which I am running. It is premature to even consider the possibility of running for election (or re-election) in 2021. I would make that decision at the time nomination papers become available.
7] Anything else you would like to share
In addition to serving on the Charter Commission and Town Meeting, I was the renter representative to the Rental Bylaw Implementation Group and on the Electronic Voting Study Committee. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate at Friends of Children. I also served on the board of the Pioneer Valley Symphony for six years (three as President), and currently play viola in it. I will approach decisions with the big picture in mind, and will seek out the opinions of those I disagree with, so I have a comprehensive understanding of the issues and concerns regarding the decisions being made.