Projects – Ward 1 has been, and will continue to be, impacted by major construction projects perhaps more so than any other Ward. On each and every one of these critical matters I have been there, standing with and fighting for the residents of Ward 1 at countless public meetings, negotiations, and hearings for the last six years.
Winter Island Wind Turbine – I am supportive of wind power, and all other manners of alternative energy generation, to move us away from fossil fuels in the long run. That’s why I was proud to be a strong voice for the inclusion of off-shore wind compatibility in the new power plant. However, while I support the idea of a wind turbine in Salem, I cannot support one on Winter Island. I served on the Reuse Committee for Winter Island and believe that a commercial development, even one with as laudable a goal as a wind turbine to help Salem, is not an appropriate use for parkland.
Footprint – From Day 1 following the announcement of Dominion’s sale of Salem Harbor Station through the current hearings before the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, I have been a strong advocate for making sure this site is developed responsibly. Footprint has been a good faith partner with the City and we are now in the stage of negotiating our Community Benefits Agreement with them. As a member of the Reuse and Stakeholders committees I have insisted that during and after the construction of the new plant, the neighbors are given the utmost consideration: noise and dust must be mitigated and traffic properly controlled. In addition I have been a strong voice for requiring all major construction deliveries to the site happen through the Harbor, and not down Derby Street. I will likewise be a strong advocate for our neighborhoods when the Algonquin gas pipeline matter is taken up for approval.
Senior Center – While not located in Ward 1, many of our senior neighbors from the Ward will benefit from the new Mayor Jean Levesque Community Life Center, shortly to be built on Bridge Street. I am proud to have voted to approve this project and am the only candidate in this race who has been consistently supportive of the creation of a new senior center and of the project.
National Grid Cable Project – I voted to put Horizontal Drilling on the ballot because I believe it is important that leaders and regulators alike hear and understand the voice of the people who will be most impacted by this project. It would be naive and short-sighted to think the City of Salem can stop this project outright; indeed, in many respects it is necessary to making sure we can turn on our lights, heat our water and homes, and cook our food. Nevertheless I have consistently fought for the residents and businesses of Ward 1 for the last three years on this project, pushing National Grid to abandon their ill-conceived plan to use Derby Street for a new transmission line – a plan they have since decided to shelve. I will continue to be a vocal advocate for mitigation from National Grid and will be there at every meeting and every forum – as I already have been – to hold their feet to the fire in every way possible.
Finances – As a member of the Council’s Administration and Finance Committee I have been very active in overseeing spending and our budget. More importantly, as a homeowner and a small business owner, I am very sensitive to the tax burden on our residents and businesses. This past year I was proud to help have a role in crafting and passing a City budget that held spending to some of its smallest increases in years, just a 1% increase over last year’s budget. We’ve accomplished this through efficiencies, regionalization where appropriate, reorganization, and the approval of grant applications for many programs and services previously funded from property tax dollars.
The City has also been able to do this through strategically supporting responsible growth, particularly in the business tax base. When we add businesses to our City we not only add jobs and the wages that come with them, we also add to our property tax base. While some may decry every single growth opportunity and be willing to stick their head in the sand, I believe that a great and forward-thinking city is better served by embracing growth when appropriate and ensuring it is done properly through regulation, permitting, and oversight. There is a direct connection between the “big picture” developments happening throughout our City and the day-to-day lives of the residents of Ward 1. When growth happens elsewhere, it adds to the tax base and reduces the amount by which our City must rely on residential property tax payers to fund the City services and programs that we all enjoy.
Neighborhood – The most important job of a Ward Councillor is to be a responsive advocate for constituents. Whether it is parking or plowing, seawall repairs or playground fixes, as Ward Councillor for the last six years I have been a responsive and effective advocate for our Ward. Being an effective voice in representing our neighbors at City Hall means not having a personal agenda. I am able to achieve results because I have been a collaborative partner with my colleagues on the Council and with the administration. I have disagreed with them without being disagreeable and I have always been willing to approach an issue in good faith and with an open mind. If re-elected I hope to be a positive voice for our neighborhood in improving the resident parking situation, getting our seawalls added to the City’s annual Capital Improvement Plan, and tightening up control over and limiting the number and scope of road races. I will continue to be a strong voice for the Point neighborhood, not simply attending meetings but initiating them. I was proud to be a strong proponent of adding a Latino Affairs Coordinator to our City staff, which we finally achieved in the most recent budget. Latino outreach is more than just translation and interpretation, however; it’s about positive and continued civic engagement. This administration has taken some good first steps in that direction and I will continue to push them to go even further.