I want Amherst’s government to actively engage all its residents, including those that have traditionally been left out. Through my service on the Charter Commission, I learned that there are many voices in Amherst that are not regularly heard in Town affairs. I will strive to ensure that these voices are newly heard by reaching out to these residents. This will require seeking out partnerships with apartment complexes, leading non-profits, and businesses in order to host meetings in locations and at times that are more likely to draw non-traditional participants in our government. It will also require regular requests to Town staff and boards and committees to ensure that they reach beyond the traditional times and places to hold meetings, in order to “go where the people are” instead of making the residents come to the officials.
Amherst’s library system, especially the Jones, is a gem for both our own residents and those from surrounding towns. We need to ensure its programming and facilities are updated for how children, families, adults, and seniors use libraries today and in the future. As a Town Councilor, this will involve putting trust in the Library Trustees and the voters of Amherst to decide what is right for the Town, then ensuring that the funding is available to make those decisions a reality.
Similarly, our students deserve updated, safe, and healthy schools that promote learning instead of hindering it. Again, Town Councilors need to trust the School Committee and the voters to decide the right plan, then ensure that the funding is available.
The fact is that sometime legislators have to vote what their constituents want, even if they don’t agree. That’s the job of a legislator. So, if a capital project is approved by the voters in an election, then I will work to find a way to responsibly fund it, even if I personally don’t support the project.
For those projects that may not need voter approval to move ahead, I will work hard to determine whether Amherst’s residents support it. I’ll also use my best judgement on the necessity of the project, the cost of it vs. the benefit realized, all while asking the team proposing it hard questions.
I am seeking a seat on the Town Council in order to help create better community conversations around planning and development. I want to engage the residents on these important matters. I want to help implement the master plan, including exploring whether the Planning Board should update it. I will work to enact Form-Based Zoning, in order for the Town to be better able to control the look of buildings that are being built, so that new building fit the character of their surroundings.
A more vibrant central Amherst business district, where residents and visitors come for entertainment, as well as to shop, eat, and relax, is possible with a Town Council that works towards a coherent and deliberate strategy for development of our town centers. Some of this is occurring now in North Amherst. Let’s find a way to make it work throughout other economic centers in Amherst.
Please read my responses to Affordable Housing for Amherst survey for my positions on affordable housing.
Please read my responses to the Mothers Out Front survey for my positions on sustainability.
As a Councilor, I would oppose expansion of Charter Schools until the state funding formula is fixed. Read my separate post for a more detailed explanation of my position.
As recreational marijuana becomes legal, the Town Council will need to actively engage in monitoring the bylaws enacted by Town Meeting and be willing to revisit them if it appears they need modified. This newly created economic activity will require Councilors to be knowledgeable, engaged, and willing to look openly at activities and results as they are happening to ensure that the Town’s regulations continue to work for the residents in the best way possible.
I support local limits on contributions to local campaigns, both for local offices and ballot questions. Candidates should have to show broad-based support, which can be done by receiving many, small-dollar contributions. I do not want any person to decide not to run because it appears too daunting to raise money.
Northampton has already adopted limits, with a simple, easy to understand bylaw that limits contributions to candidate campaigns to 50% of the state limit, or $500 (state limit is currently $1,000 per person per year). If elected, I will propose a bylaw similar to Northampton’s, but with a limit of 25% of the state’s limit, or $250.
Here is my draft text of that bylaw:
Section 1 Limitations on campaign contributions: candidates or candidate’s committees
No candidate for elected Town office or candidate’s committee shall accept campaign contributions from any individual if the aggregate of all such contributions by that individual for the benefit of that candidate or that candidate’s committee exceeds in any calendar year a sum equal to 1/4 of the maximum aggregate individual contribution allowed per calendar year as specified in MGL c. 55, § 7A.
Section 2 Examination of reports; excess contributions
The Town Clerk shall, within 15 days of filing, inspect all statements and reports of municipal candidates or candidate’s committees. If upon examination of the records it appears that any candidate or candidate’s committee has reported the receipt of contributions in excess of the limits defined in Section 1, the Town Clerk shall, in writing, notify that candidate or candidate’s committee chair. Candidates or candidate’s committees shall have 15 days to purge all excess contributions by returning them to the individual who made them or donating them to a local charity operating in the City known as the Town of Amherst. Any person or committee failing to purge excess contributions within such time shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $250.