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I’m running for City Council because I want everyone who calls Lowell home to have a say in how decisions that impact their lives are made. The debate regarding the location of the new Lowell High School would have benefited by earlier and wider resident participation. The issue has consumed this campaign season but what about all the other challenges facing our city?

 

As we approach the end of 2017, I have identified 17 goals that I will focus on as a member of the Lowell City Council. I look forward to discussing these issues with you and hearing your ideas. Together we can Make Lowell Happen.

1. Invest in Education: We need to make progress toward exceeding the net minimum school spending requirements, ensuring that more dollars go directly to the classroom, with increased early childhood programs and pre-K capacity. I support prioritizing our public schools and ensuring that Lowell Public Schools receive every dollar owed to them by the state. 2. Tackle Substance Abuse Issues: We must increase enforcement where appropriate and divert substance abusers from the criminal justice system to treatment and employment. Substance abuse is a very real problem in our city; it can plague families, city blocks, and whole neighborhoods. We need to aggressively address drug dealing hotspots and increase enforcement and patrols where and when necessary. Treatment for addiction needs to be linked to employment and our officers must understand that mental health issues are often associated with drug dependency and respond accordingly. Education and prevention should start early to inform our youth of the risks associated with drugs. 3. Invest in Parks and Recreation: I will support the renovation of public spaces and renew a commitment to recreation programs for all walks of life, in particular for our youth. I will support planning and construction of bike/pedestrian trails along Pawtucket Canal and Hale’s Brook to connect and expand the active transportation network within and around Lowell. 4. Seek Community Benefit Agreements: Benefits from new development should be broadly shared by the community with environmental, local hiring, and labor protections. New developments should support nearby public areas where citizens can spend their time outdoors and enjoy their community. 5. Grow Neighborhood Business Districts: We must increase public participation in neighborhood planning efforts. I want to re-introduce the City Manager’s Neighborhood Impact Initiative, which strategically targets neighborhoods for improved physical environment, public safety, and quality of life. Small seed grants such as the Neighborhood Innovation Grant Program should be bolstered to foster community collaboration and creativity in neighborhood projects. 6. Build Complete Streets: I support implementing the Complete Streets vision, more Safe Routes to School projects, and slower, safer streets throughout the city that accommodate all transportation types. The City should assess street conditions and performance not strictly on the quality of their pavement but on their functionality as places for all people. We can advance these goals through a more inclusive design processes for projects like the Lord Overpass and Route 38 corridor. 7. Reap benefits of the Hamilton Canal District: I support maintaining the City’s original commitment to a mixed-use, mixed-income district to encourage greater density and diversity of residents and businesses. The City should work with local developers and contractors to encourage apprenticeships and employment for people of color, youth, and women to expand opportunity for these groups. The City should also encourage local business ownership through the RFP (Request for Proposal) process. 8. Create Parking Benefit District(s): The City should examine establishing a Parking Benefit District in downtown and in other areas near the University to allow broader discretion in making bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvements to the streetscape. More cyclists and pedestrians can help manage parking demand and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, creating a more livable community for everyone. 9. Protect Residents’ Wages: I will support the adoption of an anti-wage-theft ordinance, proposed in 2013, to combat workplace abuses, protect our residents’ wages, and help support low-income individuals who are most vulnerable to wage theft. 10. Foster Community Wealth Generation: Lowell is rich with institutions that support our community. I believe the City must engage our institutions in a city-wide effort to shift spending locally with explicit purchasing preferences for local businesses and cooperatively-owned enterprises. We must develop a more formal “Local First” campaign and track results. 11. Strengthen Housing Options and Support Home Ownership: I support establishing a Municipal Affordable Housing Trust to address foreclosed homes and those in risk of foreclosure, using available tax and finance codes to convert these properties for affordable housing development. Lowell should also explore home-rule petition to adopt a more equitable split-rate taxation system, allowing buildings to be taxed at a lower rate than land in order to incentivize more appropriate development, fewer vacant or underused parcels, and better quality housing. 12. Support the Arts: Cities in the 21st century are turning towards arts and culture to engage their residents and support economic development. Large capital projects should include local art components to give our projects a sense of community and lasting impact. Our artists help drive creativity and our policies should reflect our reputation as an artist-friendly city. Lowell is home to many cultures—we should look and feel the part by encouraging participation in and enjoyment of the arts throughout the city. 13. Practice Restorative Justice: We must provide more options for non-violent youth offenders to serve the community in lieu of prison terms. This has the potential to provide assistance to our superb non-profits, instill a sense of community in our youth, and reduce recidivism. 14. Promote Participatory Budgeting: Involving the public in city spending is critical to utilizing taxpayer dollars wisely. We must do a better job coordinating the goals of the Master Plan and neighborhood plans to advance long-term goals. Some resources should be subject to direct citizen participation, initiative, and approval. The community’s vision should guide decision-making at all points during the process with citizens having more of a role in proposing and selecting city projects. 15. Increase Public Representation: The City should review the outreach and hiring practices of the school department, City administration, and board appointments to encourage a government workforce and board memberships that are more reflective of the City’s diverse populations. I will support enhanced outreach and training opportunities for eligible candidates. 16. Remain a Welcoming City: Lowell is a diverse community of immigrants. I support adopting a Trust Ordinance to codify the current Lowell Police Department policy of not questioning immigration status when they engage with residents. This policy will protect potential victims and witnesses so that they continue to report crimes and work with law enforcement. The City should also develop a plan to improve engagement with Limited English Proficient speakers to ease access to public services. 17. Keep the Public Safe: Every neighborhood should have safe streets, built on economic security, strong partnerships between community and law enforcement, and resources for treatment and re-entry. Our City must protect and empower women and girls—all women should feel safe in our neighborhoods, whether jogging in a local park or walking home at night. The City should have increased police visibility in neighborhood hotspots and better lighting in parks and on our streets. I am a strong supporter of community policing and believe we must establish neighborhood outreach pipelines for joining the Police Academy: Police officers who are a recognized and trusted presence in the community can receive better cooperation and information.