A Salem resident for over 20 years, and a North Salem homeowner since 2007, my husband Paul and I chose Salem because of its beautiful diversity, history, character and geography that you cannot find anywhere else.
I earned my degree in Communications from Salem State in 2002 while working as a waitress in local restaurants. After graduation, I was employed in various roles in the financial industry, from retail banking, to residential lending, to corporate strategy for a Real Estate Valuations company. My career took a more technical turn, and I now work for a global CyberSecurity company as a Senior CRM Administrator.
Our daughter, Stella, was born in 2011 and currently attends Carlton School.
With a history of volunteerism locally and in Boston, I currently serve on the Board of Rebuilding Together – Boston a non-profit that renovates houses for people unable to pay for essential home repairs and much-needed updates.
I saw a need in my neighborhood for neighbors to have a way to meet and decided to do something. 12 months later, I am co-chair of the newly created North Street Northfields Neighborhood Association and I also represent the group on the city-wide NIAC, where I keep neighbors up to date with my newsletter emails.
This year, I decided to do more. As a fully invested resident of Salem, I see a need for the Council to communicate, collaborate and move forward with all residents in mind and I am ready to work hard to accomplish this.
Why are you running for Councilor and what particular skills can you bring to the position?
I am running for Salem City Council because I see a need on the council for effective collaboration and I am ready to work hard and smart for the city that I love. When I moved to Salem 20 years ago it was because of the proximity to the ocean, but the diversity, inclusion, and vibrancy of the city are why I stayed. I am running because I believe Salem deserves a fair and balanced council as diverse as its residents, with unique perspectives that reflect our community.
In my professional life, when I am tasked with finding a solution, it needs to be one that would not only solve a problem, but the solution must also not negatively impact others. It is important to think like this whenever change is being discussed. Change can be hard, and unwelcomed, but often necessary. We need to be able to find a fair balance as a city council.
Communication is paramount to achieving this, and I would ensure communication is open; from regular updates via newsletters, social media, and community meetings, I will continue to make myself available in order to listen to the concerns and needs of residents and stakeholders.
Research is also key, and I am a hard worker who is not afraid to tackle new subject matters. I am passionate and will take action to get things done. I promise to be prepared and ready for discussion matters and to my due diligence.
What are some of your proposed solutions towards resolving the housing crisis in Salem?
The housing crisis is a complex problem not unique to Salem that does not have one single solution.
Salem is unaffordable for a large portion of the population - those just starting in the workforce, our service workers, seniors on a fixed income - and we need to find solutions for all. Salem is also historical and home to many properties and neighborhoods that we need to preserve and protect. Not a simple problem and there are no simple solutions.
When people hear “affordable housing” they often think of low-income, government funding housing, but the solutions are much broader and complex. There needs to be many tools utilized to help alleviate this crisis, many of which I support in moving forward with:
I support inclusionary zoning, which will require private development to include affordable units
I support the Zoning Ordinance relative to Municipal and Religious Reuse Special Permit
I support the amendment to the current Accessory Dwelling Unit zoning, with a few edits, such as homeowner occupancy.
I also support researching additional solutions, such as a condo conversion ordinance. The face of many neighborhoods are changing as rental units are being removed from the market and converted to condo units, and the rental housing stock becomes more strained. My work with the Non-Profit Rebuilding Together highlights this as we help homeowners stay in their homes by making critical repairs needed. Creative programs like this should be considered.
Most importantly, we need to continue these conversations aggressively and get moving on solutions.
How do you see Salem impacted by the climate crisis and what new initiatives would you take to lead Salem's resiliency efforts?
Much of Salem’s uniqueness is due to its geography, and being a coastal community is something that needs to be respected and carefully managed. We see the climate crisis literally on our streets and at our doors when each major storm rolls through and the tides rise up.
I have been attending the Salem SERC meetings (Salem's Energy and Resilience Committee) this past year to learn more about what initiatives are in play and what more can be done. The Solarize Mass Program that Salem was recently chosen to participate in, is an exciting opportunity for homeowners. I hope with new programs, and a decrease in overall costs, alternative energy solutions will become available to more.
As a native of North Andover, and where my mother still resides, the gas explosions last fall hit home. There are gas leaks all over Salem, which residents are not only paying for, but they are also killing our trees. The pressure needs to be put on to correct these, before something major happens.
An accessible, shared transportation system is also critical to both the environment and the housing crisis. Less gas-driven cars on the streets are needed, but people still need to get around and our current transportation options only help if you work along the commuter rail line or the MBTA bus lines. Getting to and from the supermarket, the hospital, and neighboring towns should be easier by methods other than a car. I will work hard towards alternative transportation options.
Please outline some ideas you have that can enhance civic engagement at the city level.
While speaking to residents of Ward 6, one topic I am hearing often is that people want to be involved and know more about what is going on, but the meetings are held at an inconvenient time, or they are not entirely sure who to speak to about what. City government should not be a mystery. Having a family, or an irregular job schedule should not be a barrier to civic engagement. As someone with a young child myself, that does not have cable TV, I have found myself having similar feelings of frustrations.
Connecting neighbors with each other, face to face if possible, is something I feel strongly about and will continue to encourage and help facilitate in North Salem. Neighbors become empowered when together and can provide insight into their unique needs. Getting out from behind fences and computer screens helps knock down those divides - and everyone can have some fun while doing so.
We also need to be leveraging technologies that are easily available to make city meetings accessible to more. Residents have live-streamed meetings on facebook, but as a city, we are still unable to provide this service for those without Cable TV. A simple, easy to use platform that is accessible by all would increase engagement, and produce creative solutions to our challenges when we are able to include more.