It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been over 30 months since I was sworn in as a Councilor-at-Large on the inaugural Amherst Town Council.
When I ran for the office in the summer of 2018, I could not have predicted what was to come. I knew it would be hard and I knew it would be time-consuming. I also knew it would be rewarding. What I didn’t expect was a global pandemic (none of us did) and the racial reckoning our town, state, and country faces after last summer’s murder of George Floyd (long overdue, though). These unpredictable, but necessary to address matters, reflect how hard it is to make goals a reality. Other, more important matters arise, legislation takes longer to enact that I could have imagined, and time runs out.
I have worked hard to accomplish a number of my legislative goals, and acted in what I believe are the best interests of the residents. I am proud to have supported the library by voting to accept the MBLC grant and move forward with the renovation and expansion plan. That vote is on the ballot this November and I hope you will join me in voting “Yes” to affirm the Council’s 10-2 vote. Three years ago, I ran on moving forward on the four major capital projects. This vote was the most significant vote to accomplish that promise. My vote to apply to the MSBA for funds to improve our schools was another.
Other goals I accomplished include:
- Inclusionary zoning requiring all residential developments of 10 units or more (not just those requiring special permits) to include affordable housing.
- Helping to fund the supportive affordable housing on Northampton Road, funding the purchase of land on Belchertown Road for affordable housing, and drafting and guiding the Comprehensive Housing Policy through the Community Resources Committee and Council, with a vote to adopt scheduled for September 27.
- Adopting aggressive Climate Action Goals, and beginning to implement those goals through the Jones Library renovation and expansion project that will result in one of Amherst’s largest public buildings no longer using fossil fuels.
- Sponsoring, with Councilors Schoen and DeAngelis, important wage theft protections for works and tax-supported projects.
- Sponsoring Surveillance Technology Oversight legislation so the public can finally know what types of surveillance the Town is using.
I have also proven to be team player, having sponsored legislation, proclamations, and resolutions with 10 of my fellow 12 Councilors (me being the 13th). The relationships I have built through these sponsorships have been invaluable .In the past 33 months, I have learned a lot, much of which can’t be put into words.
And now, a new election season is upon us. While I’ve accomplished much, I am not finished. My goals for the next term are to continue what I have started – enacting form-based zoning (design guidelines), supporting affordable housing, and moving forward on the major capital projects. Of particular interest is housing. We need to address our housing crisis. After working for 2 years on a comprehensive housing policy, I intend to put forward legislation that will start implementation (whether or not the Council adopts the policy). This will require a multi-pronged approach, considering ideas from all residents, and will need both bylaw changes and advocacy to the Town Manager for other regulatory changes.
Thank you for all of your support through the last three years. I hope that I served you well and ask that you support me in the coming months.