I believe a person’s passion and commitment to serve his or her community should not be measured by the number of years lived in that community. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be born in Salem, but Salem is the place I chose to live and raise my family. I have spent most of my professional career in the public sector serving the great cities and towns in Massachusetts, helping communities tackle their economic development problems by applying my skills in urban planning and development. I currently apply those expertise at MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s economic development and finance agency, as a Vice President on the Real Estate Services team. On the rare occasion when I find spare time, I love hiking with my family, playing the piano, and visiting Salem’s fantastic eating and drinking places.
Why are you running for Councilor and what particular skills can you bring to the position?
In my first term as Ward 2 Councillor, I introduced a new level of transparency by engaging with constituents and sharing information via a variety of ways: a monthly e-newsletter, online town hall events, and social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
I’ve made significant contributions to advance the policy pipeline around creating the City’s first set of affordable housing policies: Inclusionary Zoning, expansion of Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, leveraging public land, and reusing buildings for housing. I am committed to seeing these policies passed in my second term.
As a Ward Councillor, traffic and parking is one of the top issues I receive calls and messages about. It is time for the City to take a hard look at our resident sticker parking program and consider broad reform to make the system fairer and more equitable to all Salem residents. Reducing traffic congestion requires innovative ideas and programs that will create diverse mobility options for everyone so we rely less on automobiles.
What are some of your proposed solutions towards resolving the housing crisis in Salem?
Salem’s housing crisis is not unique and neither are the policy tools that are available to alleviate housing market pressures. Many of our neighboring communities have implemented best practices that Salem has yet to adopt. Examples include Inclusionary Zoning, 40R Smart Growth Zoning Overlay, incentive zoning, and allowing more intensive development by right near transit stations. Salem needs housing in all shapes and sizes – just like its residents. We must take advantage of all the tools available to us with a common sense approach until anyone who lives within our 8 square miles can have a roof over their heads.
How do you see Salem impacted by the climate crisis and what new initiatives would you take to lead Salem's resiliency efforts?
As a coastal community, we often focus climate adaptation and resiliency efforts on how to better manage our environmental resources (water, gas, etc.) and reinforcing our seawalls. However, rarely do I see discussion around how our land is being consumed or reused. We should be supporting denser development especially near transit and amenity-rich areas so people become less dependable on automobiles, which is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the world. As a mostly built-out city, we must take every opportunity to reuse and recycle buildings when feasible.
Please outline some ideas you have that can enhance civic engagement at the city level.
I believe the City already does a great job engaging its residents, but it can do better with outreach to young families and newer residents. As representatives, we need to bring City Hall into people’s homes, rather than force them to comply with a system that is designed to favor only a certain segment of our population. We need to update and expand our technology to allow live broadcasts of public meetings over the internet, as well as make public documents fully accessible and searchable online.