Any family that wants to stay and work in Somerville should be able to do so. This is a problem that affects everyone, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends. It’s not a far off problem, it’s around every corner, it’s a topic in every coffee shop and it’s making our community weaker when we need to come together and be stronger.
We’ve got an affordable housing crisis in Somerville. How could anyone hear the pleas of citizens desperate to stay in their beloved community and do nothing?
My impatience drives me to listen to those in the community and work with the best and the brightest minds to find immediate and long term policy solutions. There are other cities and countries that have experimented with sensible solutions to the affordable housing crisis for years. Some communities have affordable rental-to-homeownership programs to ensure that their residents can stay in their communities. This is one of the many policy solutions that must be considered if we are going to keep Somerville a community for everyone.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We can incorporate successful systems from other regions and make them purely Somerville.
EQUITY AND INCLUSION
My goal as a local advocate and activist is to focus on ensuring the betterment for all Somerville residents. I have a proven track record of doing this in my work as a Commissioner and I will continue that work as your city councilor.
One of the the first things I want to champion is food insecurity. The Somerville Wellbeing Report estimates that 60 percent of those that qualify for SNAP benefits aren’t taking them. As your city councilor, I want to prioritize synchronizing our Somerville systems so that enrollment in food insecurity programs like food stamps are not cumbersome.
Another passion of mine is access. As your city councilor, I want to ensure that everyone in our community is included and brought along in government processes. I am committed to work in community with local business owners, activists groups, seniors, parents, artists and our the rest of our diverse community to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
Air quality and noise pollution affect our quality of life. I want to work toward collaborative ideas on the best use of green space in order to improve our quality of life in Somerville.
We need to continue taking steps forward to address the nuanced and multifaceted nature of climate change.
We must continue to advocate for the 1-93 sound barriers, which affects the air quality of Somerville’s two most densely populated wards: one and four.
We must preserve and maintain our green spaces, which provide health benefits to our community and children. I am committed to fighting for a greener Somerville.
I have positive working relationships with environmental groups, which I will continue to strengthen as your city councilor.
Additionally, supporting our bicycle community is essential for a thriving Somerville. We need to continue supporting safe bicycling within Somerville. That includes bike lane barriers and protected cycling safe routes.
ADDRESSING FOOD INSECURITY
According to the Somerville Education Foundation, 500 children go hungry in our public school system. We have to do everything we can to address child hunger as soon as possible. I propose that we pilot a program to incentivize Somerville restaurants to donate uneaten food to school families in need to take home for the evening. Hunger doesn’t break for the summer, so donations would be year-round, not just during the school year. This pilot would build on the success of a popular local app called “Food For All” already in use by our generous local restaurants by expanding recipients to include school families in need.
SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH
We need an extra eye on our small businesses to protect them against massive rent increases. If we don’t support our smaller businesses and find solutions against rent affordability, we run the risk of Somerville losing some of its uniqueness and diversity. This includes supporting our immigrant-owned business and our working artist population.
ENGAGE OUR ARTISTS
Somerville boasts the largest working artist population in the country outside of Brooklyn. I propose that we initiate a program for when new buildings are built (like the upcoming Puma building, Union Square and art installations in Assembly) in which companies get incentives for choosing Somerville-based artists and local small businesses first when selecting services for their property.
GUIDING THE GREEN LINE EXTENSION (GLX) TO COMPLETION
It is essential that we make sure the GLX project is funded and that stations are built accessible for our community. The current station plans for all of Somerville exclude elevators and close, covered ramps. This makes it harder for commuters with ADA accessibility needs, families with strollers, among others, to access stations. I will work with my fellow City Councilors to continually advocate on your behalf for the project’s completion and accessibility.
IMPROVE OUR AIR QUALITY
I am focused on finding environmental solutions within Somerville to improve our quality of life. I am working with organizations such as Mothers Out Front and Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP) to advance the installation of sound barriers in East Somerville (Ward 1) and parts of Winter Hill (Ward 4) in an effort to direct ultrafine air pollutant particles away from the community. The sound barriers would help block some of the air pollution alongside Mystic Avenue, which is densely populated. I am continuing to fight for our fundamental right for clean air for all of us in Somerville who live alongside I-93.
PRIORITIZE ACCESSIBILITY AND DIVERSITY
I will work to increase fines and a better reporting system on absentee landlords who do not clean their sidewalks from snow in the winter or leave slippery and inaccessible walkways in the neighborhood. I will push for stricter fines for landlords who are negligent on sanitary conditions that attract rodents.