Long-term Gallows Hill, Salem, homeowner of a vintage gablefront house. Retired after a 40-year career in biomedical research, a career that emphasized learning and problem-solving, skills readily adaptable to a City Council position. Advocate for expanded and affordable housing through membership in Abundant Housing MA and NUMTOT (New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens). Blogger (Streets of Gallows Hill) of all matters Gallows Hill and Witchcraft Heights. Backer for everyday bicycling through participation in the MassBike and Mass in Motion programs. Enthusiastic amateur Salem historian. Papa to an ever-changing menagerie of pets.
Why are you running for Councilor and what particular skills can you bring to the position?
Salem is a glorious place to live. Scratch anywhere and you’ll uncover history, culture, charm. With its long and proud tradition of open-mindedness, from Nathaniel Hawthorne and abolitionists such as the Redmond family in the mid-19th century to the immigrant settlement associations set up by Caroline Emmerton at the end of the 19th to labor organizing in the first half of the 20th to opening marijuana shops in the 21st, Salem has always been in the forefront of human and national advancement. That tradition is why it is so discouraging to be represented by a city council that is closeminded, recalcitrant, averse to the merest improvement. Somebody has to try to turn around this city council to one that is more representative and responsive to the populace of Salem. In this instance that somebody is me.
What are some of your proposed solutions towards resolving the housing crisis in Salem?
First need to get a recalcitrant city council to view housing projects affirmatively. Indeed, it is the major reason why I’m running (see Q1). Next, understand that there is no one solution for the local housing crisis. By supporting even seemingly small steps the city can become more affordable. Possibilities: inclusionary zoning; accessory dwelling units; upzoning; transit-oriented development; reduced parking requirements; increased height allotments; development of grayfields; increased use of tax incentives such as TIF (tax increment financing) and HDIP (Housing Development Incentive Program); and whatever else becomes available. Only in the aggregate can these approaches push towards more affordability. My participation in the Salem-LWV affordable housing working group has afforded me the chance to learn about all of these, an education that would be put to good use on the City Council.
How do you see Salem impacted by the climate crisis and what new initiatives would you take to lead Salem's resiliency efforts?
Already Salem has been heavily impacted. Flooding of Blubber Hollow (Bridge and Commercial Streets, the “front door” of Ward 4) at winter high tides is routine. It will get worse. The big ideas (carbon tax, conversion to renewable energy) are outside the purview of Salem City Council, but many small ideas in sustainability are attainable. Support and expand recycling efforts like clothing drop-offs and Repair Café. Advocate for alternative transportation: bicycles and bike paths and lanes; various micro-mobility transportation (e-bikes, e-scooters); expand public transit (dream of a South Salem commuter rail station or a Peabody trolley); a Salem van shuttle. Again the current recalcitrant City Council has opposed such initiatives. Many housing solutions advocated (see Q2) also improve sustainability, as multifamily housing uses less energy and resources per capita than sprawl. If elected, my promise is to bicycle to every City Council meeting. Purely symbolic, granted, but still.
Please outline some ideas you have that can enhance civic engagement at the city level.
There are many good ideas regarding Ward 4 that could be implemented. 1. Proctor’s Ledge Citizen’s Trust. Proctor’s Ledge Memorial is in Ward 4. Salem Parks & Recreation has not the resources to fully maintain the site. Perhaps cooperation could be established between the City of Salem, concerned neighbors, and most importantly descendant associations of the falsely accused witches such as the Towne Family Association (http://townefolk.com/testing/) to maintain and improve the site, even to the point of setting up a trust fund to upkeep the site in perpetuity. 2. Local small businesses are not engaged in Ward 4 events. A Gallows Hill Neighborhood Business Association, patterned after the highly engaged Bridge Street Neck Neighborhood Association https://www.facebook.com/groups/405583869844879/), could a way to draw residences and businesses together 3. Organize frequent community cleanups of Ward 4 locations (Proctor’s Ledge, Mansell playground, Witchcraft Heights Elementary) under the aegis of Keep Salem Clean (https://www.facebook.com/KeepSalemClean-1438563133080379/). 4. A weekly email newsletter of all Ward 4 events and news, modeled on the current Ward 3 newsletter.