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Two New Middle Schools

Holyoke has a once in a generation opportunity to build two new middle schools.

The City has been awarded at $75.8 million grant from the MSBA to cover more than half of the cost to build these two new schools, But in order to access these funds, Holyoke voters MUST VOTE YES on the November ballot.

I strongly support the two new middle schools project. Building two new, more efficient schools allows us to take old, inefficient, and unhealthy buildings off-line and save $4.5 million a year in operating costs. That savings will be reinvested in teachers’ professional development, classroom curriculum and technology, and counselors and other supports for students.

There is no better way! Holyoke has put off repair and maintenance for too long. We cannot afford to say no to almost eighty million in state aid. Renovation and repair options have been explored along with relocating to vacant mill buildings downtown. Each other proposal explored was more costly than building new and the two-new-buildings proposal is the only one that will be funded by the state.

Innovative educational programs, such as the dual language program, are causing a resurgence in public school enrollment–  especially at the elementary age. As a community, we need to demonstrate that we value families, infrastructure, and education in order to attract and retain these new families who will help grow and stabilize our City’s tax base.

I encourage you to learn more about the schools proposal at and vote YES Nov. 5!!

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.

Reducing the number of at-large seats

Last election, Holyoke voters decided to reduce the number of at-large seats from 8 to 6.

You will have a critical vote before you this election. I ask for your support.

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.

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