Affordable Housing: One of Concord’s highest priorities and largest challenges is to provide sufficient housing stock for all income levels. I support a dedicated revenue source for affordable housing, along with strong management and monitoring of the fund.
Tax Bills: The Finance Committee has made great progress in analyzing fiscal sustainability and educating citizens about its importance for our future quality of life. We need to balance our demand for services with growth in tax bills, so that we don’t price folks out of town. We want to attract and maintain a diverse citizenry, not only because it is politically and socially desirable, but also because this diversity actually creates more affordability for all.
We want to maintain our high quality of life in Concord, with excellent schools and superior town services. We also want to be a leader in environmental change and affordable housing. And we want to do it all at a reasonable cost.
As a member of the Concord Finance Committee, I worked to balance the funding needs of our excellent schools and town services with the need to keep taxes low enough to sustain a diverse population. As a member of the Select Board, I plan to continue working to find that right balance between these competing priorities of high-quality services and fiscal sustainability.
Every year, on the annual survey, citizens consistently choose “Town Character” as one of their top priorities. Exactly what is “Town Character?” For me, it certainly includes Concord’s beautiful open spaces, historical structures, and cultural/economic vitality. These features are the reason why many of us moved here. As a member of the Select Board, I will work hard to preserve the special character of Concord.
Another vital aspect of our Town character is civility. Our Concord community values tolerance, mutual respect, and collaborative decision-making. We welcome diversity and are proud to be a “Welcoming Community”. Without this civil sustainability, we cannot maintain excellent schools, accomplish environmental change, create more affordable housing, or make real progress on anything.
I believe that 3 types of sustainability are crucial to preserving Concord’s character:
- Environmental Sustainability: Concord has been a leader and example to the rest of the country, creating a Sustainability Director position and reducing our plastic waste and dependence on fossil fuels. Now let’s continue to buy more hybrid and electric vehicles and let’s build up resilience to climate disruption. Let’s reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions by expanding our transportation services through Cross-Town Connect.
- Fiscal Sustainability: As a member of the Concord Finance Committee, I worked to balance the funding needs of our excellent schools and town services with the need to keep taxes low enough to sustain a diverse population. We also strived to find the right balance between new initiatives and Rainy-Day funds, so that we can continue to provide high-quality services in the future. Going forward, with the Facility Manager now on board, we should take a fresh look at our Capital Plan. And we can ease the tax burden of the new Middle School by building a stabilization fund and by carefully timing the borrowing.
- Civil Sustainability: In Concord, we value tolerance, mutual respect, and trust, despite the national decline in these virtues. We still engage in collaborative decision-making and seek diversity. This civility is a vital part of our town character that we’ve perhaps taken for granted. But we will have to hard work to sustain it. I applaud the recent efforts of the schools and town government to become more collaborative and more transparent. I am also a strong supporter of adding Civics Education to our school curriculum and proud to be working on a team preparing for Concord’s first Civics Bee.
Concord will soon be welcoming a new Town Manager. The Select Board’s role is to set policy, goals and overall direction, to communicate and understand what is going on, but not to micromanage the Town Manager or Department Heads. The new Town Manager will continue to run the day to day operations of the Town. He or she is a professional, just as the Department Heads are experts in their fields and know what to do.
With 25 years of experience in Massachusetts municipal management, I have first-hand knowledge on how the system works. I am a big-picture person, and have no intention in getting bogged down “in the weeds.” But I have strong organizational skills and I know how to shepherd a project through. I have a collaborative style and I know how to empower people to accomplish their tasks effectively for the good of the community.
Concord Citizens are actively engaged and we have many hard-working citizen committees. Yet committees frequently have unfilled vacancies. We need to encourage more people to join these important committees, by making the “green card” process more welcoming.
We need to expand our service in “Cross Town Connect”, in order to provide bus/van service to all Concord residents at a nominal fee. This service is especially needed by students, seniors, disabled people, and non-drivers, and has the added bonus of reducing traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. I applaud staff efforts to obtain grants and work with the Council on Aging, Minuteman Park, Emerson Hospital, Newbury Court and others, so that we can fully serve the transportation needs of the Concord community.
I support the recent Select Board votes for free parking on specific Saturdays, and I would like to see additional free parking days in the future. Keeping our business districts vibrant is an important priority. In fact, several Massachusetts communities have completely removed their downtown parking meters, which successfully boosted their retail sales. I would like Concord to explore this option in the future.