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Downtown Revitalization

The Issue

A thriving downtown depends on showcasing Holyoke’s cultural diversity and historic building stock as assets that will attract private investment to the city center.

What I’ve Done

In my 2005 run for office, I introduced the City to “Smart Growth” concepts and principles which promote in-fill, mixed-used development and in 2008 the City Council unanimously adopted a Smart Growth Overlay Zone for the downtown.

I supported and actively advocated for the renovation of the historic Lyman Terrace project with letters to the Office for Community and as a lead sponsor of a City Council Resolution “Supporting Responsible Downtown Economic and Community Development at Lyman Terrace.”

I supported the creation of the “Polish Heritage Historic District” that would call attention to part of Holyoke’s rich ethnic heritage and serve as a tool with which the City could attract additional redevelopment projects (such as what is already underway at Holyoke Catholic).

What I Will Do

When re-elected I promise to continue to work to implement the City’s Urban Renewal Plan and ensure that we are marketing Holyoke effectively.

I am also interested in supporting the Community Preservation Act that will help the City fund much needed improvements in the areas of open space and recreation, community housing, and historic preservation. City residents are already paying into the state pool of funding with their taxes and we should ensure that we can make use of those tax dollars and invest in local projects.

Economic Development

The Issue

Attracting new businesses and well-paying jobs to Holyoke requires clear zoning maps, zoning regulations, and a simple, easy-to-navigate permitting system.

What I’ve Done

As Chair of the Ordinance Committee I helped modify the several business-related permits to make them more user-friendly to entrepreneurs looking to locate or expand businesses in the City.

I also worked hard to preserve the integrity of the City’s zoning ordinances and map by ensuring that new businesses or business expansions are sited properly given their uses. The City’s zoning maps are the first means we have in marketing parcels to prospective entrepreneurs and attracting new projects. Adhering to the zoning under the City’s Master Plan and Urban Renewal Plan helps make the proposal and siting of new businesses more predictable and less contentious.

I have also come up with creative solutions to controversial zoning issues such as controlling the design and dimensional features of large scale businesses sited across from residential neighborhoods and crafting a special permit for additional parking needs for businesses downtown.

What I Will Do

The Ordinance Committee is exploring the zoning ordinances and map related to the multiple business-related zones located in the Whitings Farms corridor of the City. The patchwork arrangement of the four different zones in the area (BH-BG-IG-IP) as well as their near overlapping uses needs to be consolidated and streamlined in order to increase its allure to potential developers. I am advocating for text and map changes that will create one contiguous and overarching zone for that area. This will both level the playing field for various retail businesses in the area (they will all be under one consistent set of regulations) and help make the area a more attractive and predictable location for new businesses to site their projects (because it will be a consolidated commercial shopping district).

Green Living

The Issue

Access to the Connecticut River and water power that can be generated from the mills along canals make Holyoke an ideal location for green jobs, carbon-neutral energy production, and pioneering Green industries, such as the Green High Performance Computing Center.  An abundance of natural treasures also makes Holyoke an ideal location for numerous outdoor recreational activities.

What I’ve Done

I have helped build Holyoke’s image as a hub of Green activity. I worked hard to help Holyoke gain “Green Community” status from the State which qualifies us for grant and funding opportunities that finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at the local level.

Under my leadership, Holyoke became the first city in Massachusetts to pass a resolution in support of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This is a strategy that creates incentives for producers to design products that are less toxic, less wasteful, and more reusable or recyclable.

As Chair of the Ordinance Committee and also a member of the Bike and Pedestrian Committee, I worked to develop Holyoke’s first Complete Streets Policy. This will help ensure that as the City grows and develops its infrastructure, investments are made to enable pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities to move safely along and across a street.

What I Will Do

I will continue to find ways to build Holyoke’s marketable image as a green industrial center and develop incentives that will make the city an attractive destination for investors in Green technologies.

We also need to highlight and develop the recreational activities that are accessible in the Holyoke, such as hiking on Mt. Tom, walks around the Whiting and Ashley Reservoirs, the swimming boating and fishing access to the Connecticut River at Jones Ferry, and connecting to the regional River Walks and Bicycle Railways.

Building Community

The Issue

Strong and active networks of citizens, who share ideas and with one another and participate in community life, will help Holyoke amplify and leverage its investments in community and municipal projects.

What I’ve Done

I’ve worked to increase the interconnectedness of the City across class, race, gender, age, and ethnic lines. In 2008 I founded C.R.U.S.H. (Citizens for the Revitalization and Urban Success of Holyoke) to create a space and a network for people to discuss issues and build support for addressing those issues. C.R.U.S.H. fulfilled its mission with its monthly Parties with a Purpose, the Great Holyoke Block Parties, and spin off events such a the Canal Lighting and Winter Carnivals.

In 2015, I also helped the City Council secure an “Inclusive Leadership” training in to explore the ways that we can work more collaboratively as a body to support one another and our work as community leaders.

What I Will Do

When re-elected I will continue to find opportunities for citizen involvement in municipal government and increase citizens’ abilities to weigh-in on municipal decisions.

I take seriously the responsibility that we have as city leaders to ensure that we are creating an inclusive space where all members of the public feel comfortable voicing their positions.

2015 Ballot Questions

Reducing the size of the City Council: YES

This ballot question asks if you support reducing size of the City Council from 15 to 13 members by eliminating 2 at-large seats.

I strongly support this move to reduce the size of the City Council. A smaller council will help foster more collaboration and collegiality among members who will need to coordinate with one anther across issues and ideological divides in order to build vote coalitions. A smaller council will be less vulnerable to gridlock by entrenched factions.

There will be some moderate cost savings from the two $10,000 stipends associated with the eliminated positions.

By reducing the number of at-large councilors in particular, it lends more weight to the selection process by which voters choose their at-large representatives. Citizens may become more thoughtful about how and for whom they vote if the overall number is reduced.

Finally, I’d like to see even further reductions in the number of ward seats. Having fewer, but larger and more diverse wards will increase the council’s accountability to a more diverse set of issues and constituencies. We would not be able to make this type of reduction until redistricting occurs after the 2020 Decennial Census.

Four-year term for Mayor: YES

This question asks if you support extending the mayor’s term from 2 years to 4 years.

I strongly support this move to a four-year term for Mayor. A four-year term will help increase the professionalization of the office of mayor; it will help mayors execute and implement the campaign promises they made to the electorate. A four-year mayoralty will also reduce the amount of time mayors must spend dedicated to campaigning each term which means that it will contribute to the overall productivity of government.

Four-year term for City Council: NO

This question asks if you support extending the terms of the City Council members from 2 to 4 years.

I do not support this move to longer terms for the legislative body of our city. First, it is very rare that legislative terms are ever 4 years (even our U.S. Congressmen have two-year terms). I think that there is a higher level of accountability with a two-year legislative term- if voters are unsatisfied with their representative and his or her votes then there are more opportunities to make this displeasure felt at the polls.

Additionally, our local legislative bodies are only part-time positions, so I do not see the Council making the same gains in professionalization that would be associated with the four-year term for mayor- a full-time position.

Appointed Treasurer: YES

This question asks if you support moving from an elected Treasurer to one that is appointed by the Mayor and then confirmed by the City Council.

I support the move to an appointed Treasurer with City Council confirmation. Appointing the Treasurer would help ensure that the job candidate has the skills and experience necessary to fulfill the position; the election of the Treasurer has no guarantees that the job candidate has any experience or training related to finance. I also believe that it would allow the financial arms of the city to become better aligned with one another, while maintaining checks and balances that City Council has with appointment confirmation and appropriation of financial transfers.

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