As a Councilor, I view one of my primary roles as sponsoring legislation to improve Amherst, recognize our residents, and advocate for legislation necessary to help Amherst’s residents that our state legislators are acting on. Obviously, this is in addition to our role as fiscal stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, responding to crises, and voting on legislation that comes before us at the request of other Councilors, Town Staff, Boards and Committees, or residents.
I am proud of the wide variety of measures I have sponsored or co-sponsored as a Councilor, and especially proud of fact that I have been able to work with nearly all of my fellow Councilors on at least one measure during my first term (all but Councilors Swartz and Bahl-Milne) . Below is a list of measures I have sponsored, along with any co-sponsors. Unless specifically noted, all the measures below were enacted by the Council.
- Wage and Tip Theft Bylaw – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis and Schoen
- Responsible Employer and Tax Relief Agreement Bylaw – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis and Schoen
- Surveillance Technology Oversight Bylaw – co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis, currently in committee
- Face Recognition Ban Bylaw – co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis, withdrawn due to state passage of similar ban
- Non-Criminal Disposition bylaw revision
- Site Plan Review Voting Quantum for Planning Board bylaw revision
- Limitations on Campaign Contributions – co-sponsored with Councilor Ross, failed to pass
- Resolution in Support of S. 868, An Act Empowering Cities and Towns to Impose a Fee on Certain Real Estate Transactions to Support Affordable Housing, and S. 1853, An Act Providing for Climate Change Adaptation Infrastructure and Affordable Housing Investments in the Commonwealth – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis and DuMont
- Resolution in Support of CRESS Program – Co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis
- Resolution in Support of H.R. 40 / S. 40 Bills in Congress – Co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis
- Resolution Condemning the January 6, 2021 Insurrection and Violence at the U.S. Capitol – co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis
- Resolution Regarding the Holyoke Soldier’s Home – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis, Griesemer, and Pam
- Resolution in Support of Right to Counsel in Eviction Cases and Eviction Sealing to Promote Housing Opportunity and Mobility – original sponsor, which the Community Resources Committee voted to sponsor (Councilors De Angelis, Hanneke, Pam, Schreiber, and Steinberg)
- 2021 Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month Proclamation– co-sponsored with Councilors Brewer and Griesemer
- Lunar New Year/Spring Festival Celebration 2021 Proclamation – co-sponsored with Councilor Pam
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021 Proclamation – co-sponsored with Councilor Ryan
- Juneteenth 2021 Proclamation – co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis
- Proclamation Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the League of Women Votes of the United States
- Race Amity Day 2020 Proclamation
- Memorial Day 2020 Proclamation
- Juneteenth 2020 Proclamation
- Human Rights Day 2020 Proclamation
- Citation in Recognition of Officer Rita Curley (nee Contardo) upon receiving the Law Enforcement Exemplary Performance Award from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis and Ryan
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. I am proud to support the renovation and expansion of the Jones Library, having voted “yes” to authorize acceptance of the MBLC grant and borrowing of funds within the confines of our yearly Capital budget. I look forward to this project moving forward!
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.
I eagerly await the Manager’s proposal for a site for a new DPW building. Both our Fire Department and DPW employees are working in buildings that do not allow them to work to their best potential. I hope that in the next two years the Town Council will be able to vote to move both of these projects forward.
Keeping every resident in Amherst safe is one of the primary roles of municipal government. In light of the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the nationwide demand to reform the provision of safety services, especially by police departments, Amherst is re-evaluating what is means to provide safety services.
As a Councilor, I supported the steps it takes to change the way the Town ensures the safety of its residents. I support the creation of the CRESS program. As a Town, we need to do better by our resident who are experiencing crisis situations and residents who do not want armed officers responding to non-violent, non-criminal situations, especially our BIPOC residents. The adequate funding of the CRESS program over at least 18 months (fiscal years 2022 and 2023) in order to ensure that the Town has sufficient data and information to determine how many calls can be appropriately transitioned away from police response and into CRESS response, thereby determining an appropriate level of armed policing into the future, is essential to the successful transformation of what community safety means in Amherst.
I am seeking a seat on the Town Council in order to continue to implement the master plan that the Council adopted. I look forward to enacting Form-Based Zoning (Design Guidelines), in order for the Town to be better able to control the look of buildings that are being built, so that new buildings 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.
I am proud to be a supporter of Affordable Housing in Amherst. In the past three years, I voted to support Valley CDC’s 132 Northampton Road studio apartment project, purchase land on Belchertown Road for more affordable housing. In addition, as Chair of the Community Resources Committee, I continue to be instrumental in the creation of a Council Comprehensive Affordable Housing Policy.
Finally, I support many zoning initiatives that are intended to help with housing in Amherst, particularly revisions to the Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaw, the creation of a bylaw for 3-family dwellings so they are not lumped in with apartments, and revising the zoning bylaw to allow duplexes and triplexes by-right to the same extent that single-family homes are allowed by-right.
I am proud to have co-sponsored with Councilors Schoen and De Angelis a comprehensive Wage and Tip Theft bylaw package. The first bylaw will help workers know their rights and where they can go for help when their wages are stolen. The second bylaw will prevent the Town from using its resources to aid contractors and developers that commit wage theft by prohibiting the Town from contracting with businesses that have committed wage theft in the past and prohibit tax incentives from being given to those who commit wage theft.
Surveillance technology use is ubiquitous in Town – both by private entities and the Town itself. I am a proud sponsor of the Surveillance Technology Oversight bylaw, co-sponsored by Councilor De Angelis, that will ensure that the Council approves the use of certain types of surveillance technology before it is deployed, as well as ensure clear guidance on how that technology is used, what data is kept, and who can access this data.
In the past three years, I have repeatedly supported projects that will move Amherst towards a more sustainable future. I voted to adopt aggressive Climate Action Goals, and voted in support of the Jones Library renovation and expansion project that will result in one of Amherst’s largest public buildings no longer using fossil fuels.
For more information on my position, please read my responses to the Mothers Out Front survey from 2018 for my positions on sustainability.
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.
Unfortunately, the Council didn’t support my bylaw proposal, which was co-sponsored with Councilor Ross and therefore, I was not able to enact local limits on Campaign Finance.