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 in my more than 4 years on the Council on at least one measure (all but Councilor Walker). 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.
Bylaws and Town Council Policies
- Ensuring Safe Access to Legally-Protected Reproductive and Gender Affirming Health Care – co-sponsored with Councilor Devlin-Gauthier (2022-2023 Term) – Currently in Committee
- Zoning Revisions to Duplex, Triplex, Converted Dwelling, Subdividable Dwelling, and Town Houses – co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis (2022-2023 Term) – Withdrawn
- Streetlighting Policy – co-sponsored with Councilor Devlin-Gauthier (2022-2023 Term) – Currently Awaiting Council Action
- Residential Rental Registration Bylaw Revisions – originally co-sponsored with Councilors Miller, Rooney, and Taub; referred to CRC for full overhaul (2022-2023 Term) – Currently awaiting Council Action
- Transfer Fee Special Act – co-sponsored with Councilor Devlin-Gauthier (2022-2023 Term)
- Wage and Tip Theft Bylaw – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis and Schoen (2018-2021 Term)
- 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 (2018-2021 Term)
- Face Recognition Ban Bylaw – co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis, withdrawn due to state passage of similar ban (2018-2021 Term)
- Limitations on Campaign Contributions – co-sponsored with Councilor Ross; (2018-2021 Term) – failed to pass
- Amendments to General Bylaws to allow Board of License Commissioners to set License Fees (2022-2023 Term)
- Non-Criminal Disposition bylaw revision (2018-2021 Term)
- Site Plan Review Voting Quantum for Planning Board bylaw revision (2018-2021 Term)
- A Resolution Concerning the Safety of the Amherst Pelham Regional High School Athletic Complex – co-sponsored with Councilors Bahl-Milne and Miller
- Resolution Supporting the People of Ukraine and Their Democratically Elected Government and Condemning Russia’s War Against Them – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis, Griesemer, Lopes, Miller, Pam, and Taub
- 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)
- Pride Month Proclamation
- 2023 – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis and Devlin-Gauthier
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Proclamation
- 2022 – co-sponsored with Councilor Miller
- 2021 – co-sponsored with Councilor Ryan
- Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week Proclamation
- 2023 – co-sponsored with Councilor Pam and former Councilor Swartz
- 2022 – co-sponsored with Councilors Devlin-Gauthier, Lopes, Miller and former Councilor Swartz
- Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month Proclamation
- 2023– co-sponsored with Councilor Griesemer
- 2022 – co-sponsored with Councilor Griesemer
- 2021 – co-sponsored with Councilors Brewer and Griesemer
- Lunar New Year/Spring Festival Celebration Proclamation
- 2023 – co-sponsored with Councilor Griesemer
- 2022 – co-sponsored with Councilor Griesemer
- 2021 – co-sponsored with Councilor Pam
- Juneteenth Proclamation
- 2022 – co-sponsored with Councilors De Angelis, Devlin-Gauthier, Lopes, Miller, Pam, and Taub
- 2021 – co-sponsored with Councilor De Angelis
- Black History Month Proclamation
- 2022 – co-sponsored with Councilors Griesemer and Lopes
- Human Rights Day 2020 Proclamation
- Proclamation Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the League of Women Votes of the United States – co-sponsored with Councilor Griesemer
- Race Amity Day 2020 Proclamation
- Memorial 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
I am proud to be a supporter of Affordable Housing in Amherst. Increasing housing affordability and attainability is my top priority as a Councilor.
As a Councilor, I voted for the Comprehensive Housing Policy, a smart revision of the Inclusionary Zoning bylaw, allowing Accessory Dwelling Units by-right, and revising the Residential Rental bylaw to require town inspections of all rental units. I have supported funding for purchasing land for and constructing affordable housing projects, including Valley CDC’s 132 Northampton Road studio apartment project, the purchase of land on Belchertown Road for more affordable housing, and the purchase of the former VFW site for the creation of a year-round shelter.
If re-elected, I intend to propose legislation and other measures that will address each of these Goals, beyond what I have already done. As a Councilor, I co-sponsored resolutions supporting state legislation to provide funds for creating, supporting, and developing deed-restricted affordable housing, to levy a fee on transfers of property to support affordable housing, and to seal eviction records so residents can better maintain housing security. The Council must continue to advocate for bills such as these at the state house.
I have also co-sponsored legislation that would allow Amherst to impose a fee on property transfers that would provide funds for affordable housing in Amherst. This law will provide funds to our Affordable Housing Trust and Town operating and capital budgets for developing deed-restricted affordable housing in Amherst. If enacted at the state level, I will sponsor the local bylaw to enable the special legislation.
The Master Plan provides a good framework for some of the zoning changes Amherst should consider:
- guiding new housing growth to areas that minimize the impact on Amherst’s open space;
- encouraging a greater mix of housing types, sizes, and prices to serve a wider range of income levels and special populations;
- promoting infill development; and
- public-private partnerships for student housing.
This term, Councilor De Angelis and I proposed a set of zoning revisions designed to provide more pathways to homeownership and increase the diversity of housing types in Town. Our proposal contained ideas drawn from the Master Plan, including duplex development by-right, increasing infill development, promoting triplex development, and increasing the locations in Town where town houses can be built. Councilor De Angelis and I’s commentary is the Amherst Bulletin can be found here. Finding ways to encourage this type of housing development is essential to making Amherst more affordable. Unfortunately, we needed to withdraw the proposal, but if re-elected, I plan to propose new legislation that learns from the legislative efforts and continues to address the Goals of the Comprehensive Housing Policy. Other options include net-zero and green building requirements for both new buildings and retrofits; guiding new housing growth to areas that minimize the impact on Amherst’s open space; and collaboration and partnerships for student housing in appropriate locations.
The Council also needs to identify surplus property that can be used for affordable housing, support funding affordable housing developments, and monitor and provide funding for the development of the old VFW site for shelter opportunities.
In the past two terms, 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 both the Jones Library renovation and expansion project and the new Elementary School Building project that will result in some of Amherst’s largest public buildings no longer using fossil fuels.
I was a co-sponsor of the Council’s resolution supporting state legislation to provide state grants for retrofitting existing housing stock to address climate sustainability and resiliency. The Council must continue advocating for state legislation such as this that will provide additional state and municipal funds to help move our housing stock onto more efficient and carbon neutral systems.
The Council can also find ways to promote and/or fund retrofitting for heat pumps existing housing stock in multi-unit buildings, but in doing so, we need to ensure that if money is spent in this manner, the utility bill savings from such conversions are proportionately passed on to the tenants, not just used to increase the profits of the owners.
As a Councilor, I regularly propose resolutions and legislation that further our Climate Action Goals. One example this term is the dark-skies streetlighting policy I co-sponsored with Councilor Devlin-Gauthier. If re-elected, I will continue to look for opportunities to bring measures forward to the Council that further action on our climate goals.
For more information on my position, please read my responses to the Mothers Out Front survey from 2018 for my positions on sustainability.
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. I have supported sufficient funding of the CRESS program since its creation in order to ensure that the Town has the necessary data and information to determine how many calls can be appropriately transitioned away from police response and into CRESS response. I look forward to continuing to see progress on the successful transformation of what community safety means in Amherst.
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! You can read my statement at the time of the vote here.
Our students deserve updated, safe, and healthy schools that promote learning instead of hindering it. I am proud to support the Elementary Building Project, having voted “yes” to authorize borrowing of funds and having support the debt exclusion override at the ballot box. I look forward to this project moving forward and welcoming elementary students in 2026!
I continue to 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 continue to hope that in the next two years the Town Council will be able to vote to move both of these projects forward.
I am again seeking a seat on the Town Council in order to continue to implement the master plan that the Council adopted. Last term the Council voted funds for consultants for design guidelines. As the RFP under that funding is fulfilled, 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 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.
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.