Somerville will hold its municipal elections on Tuesday, November 5. Along with School Committee elections, there’s a tight race for the Board of Aldermen this year and your vote makes a difference. Not sure who to vote for? We asked every candidate for alderman – challengers, incumbents and those running unopposed – to answer one direct question in 100 words or less – no easy feat for loquacious politicos. Check out how they responded and see where their priorities lie. And don’t forget to vote!
What will be your top priority or “first order of business” if you are elected (or re-elected) to the Board of Aldermen?
“Ward 1 has a serious rodent problem – and it’s getting worse. Rats are everywhere. This is a public health and quality of life issue and the city is not doing enough to combat this. I’m the only independent candidate running for Alderman in Ward 1 – I don’t owe the administration anything. I’ll use this independence to work with fellow Aldermen to pressure the city to set up a citywide rodent plan to look at novel ways to eradicate rodent infestation. We need new ideas to combat this – not the same tired excuses.”
“My top priority is to ensure everyone in East Somerville has a voice in government. East Somerville is the most diverse area ethnically and economically. The area is undergoing serious change and I want to fight for the interests of all its residents. This means fighting for local jobs and affordability to ensure residents can afford to live here in the future. It means promoting the character of the present neighborhood while still accepting new aspects to the community. My campaign motto is ‘Something old, something new.’ I will promote Somerville old and new as we move forward.”
“I will request that a resident-driven planning and visioning process be convened that will identify unique residential neighborhoods, identify the impact of zoning both new and old on those neighborhoods, and recommend changes that will serve to protect residents. I will also continue to advocate for expansion of the substantial work already undertaken to address long-standing flooding issues in the ward and pursue an aggressive approach to a long-term solution including identification of funding sources. This problem has plagued the Ward for over 100 years. It affects so many Ward 2 residents that it must stay a priority until resolved.”
“My priority is constituent services, which encompasses virtually everything concerning our communities, including public safety. It is incumbent upon me to ensure that every action taken is done for the benefit of residents. Our city is being negatively impacted by multiple public safety issues, specifically, the escalating citywide rodent problem and the recent outbreak of fires, four of which have been ruled as arson with five more categorized as suspicious. I would provide our public safety personnel with the resources needed to combat both of these problems, leaving no stone unturned, so that our citizens and visitors are safe.”
“As Alderman my top priority will be to continue the dialog with the residents of the ward that we started at the beginning of the campaign. For Somerville to be an even better place to live, and remain the place that we love, we need open channels of communication between stakeholders. Residents, property and business owners, developers, city government – we must arrive at common understandings and then establish and implement a policy agenda that allows us to lead the charge on change, and not let the change lead us.”
“I want to work with other aldermen to improve the zoning in the city. There is too much residential development in Somerville that negatively affects the quality of life of our residents. Neighbors aren’t involved enough in the process and often feel that development is being pushed on them without their input and feedback. By identifying proper zones in the city that are conducive to commercial and residential development, we can protect our neighborhoods, increase our tax base and make our city an even better place to live.”
“My first order of business will be to work with the rest of the Board and ISD to put a plan in place to deal with Somerville’s growing rodent issue. Of all the phone calls and emails I receive, this is the most common and the most disturbing. There is no reason why Somerville residents should have to deal with this and a precise plan is needed, so our residents can enjoy their backyards and open space without being in fear.”
“My first order of business as alderman will be to work with all interested parties to tackle the rat problem, and to deal with constituent issues such as parking, permits, streets and trees. My top priority will be to put the residents of Ward 5 first when dealing with real estate development in Ward 5 and Somerville. I will work to protect our neighborhoods, revise the zoning code and build more affordable housing to preserve Somerville’s character and diversity. I will advocate for good commercial development to bring increased tax revenue and local jobs that pay a living wage.”
“My first order of business will be passing the anti ‘pay to play’ ordinance that is in the committee I chair, Legislative Matters. This bill would limit the amount of money developers can give to elected officials for their political campaigns. I believe limiting campaign contributions benefits neighbors by decreasing the power of big money in the local political process.”
“I will focus on the immediate and the possible – the redevelopment of the Powder
House Community School. This is the largest development in Ward 7 and time is running out to ensure all community members are heard and protected. I’ve already reached out to the broader neighborhood to seek input and, if elected, I will engage neighbors individually. Although I respect those who have participated thus far, we cannot ignore those who could not attend public meetings – everyone impacted should be heard. To me, this is symbolic of my approach – respect and inclusion of everyone.”
“I’m running for Alderman because I love Somerville.
It’s a great place and we can make it even better! I have the experience, commitment and leadership skills to get the job done for the people of Ward 7. I’ll engage residents in decision making, to get ahead of the issues that affect our neighborhoods. We need to be pro-active. We need to shape new development, encourage complimentary businesses to locate here and to help match local residents with local jobs. We all need to be involved to get the best results.”
“First, I will offer my decades of experience as an alderman to aid my newly-elected colleagues. I will continue my fight to make the preservation of public safety, along with the provision of quality, free public education, my top city concerns. Together with my BOA colleagues, I will also spearhead the careful monitoring of the city annual budget to get the best return on our local tax dollars. Finally, I will also continue my life-long efforts to bring MBTA train service to Assembly Square, Union Square and beyond, as well implement the SomerVision Master Plan.”
“If I am reelected to the Board of Aldermen, my top priority is to continue to work to
make Somerville a community that helps all of its residents thrive by promoting economic development in areas such as Assembly Square, North Point and the Inner Belt, while preserving our residential neighborhoods from overdevelopment. At the same time, I will continue to work to promote our schools, welcome diversity, promote civility and safe and affordable dwellings, enable participation in local government, support fairness in access to opportunities and services and work for a more sustainable community for present and future residents.”
“I believe that municipal government works better when we listen. That is why I have held more than 125 neighborhood office hours. It’s my way of connecting with you, in your neighborhood, on your time. Real progress is made by working together. If re-elected, my first order of business will be to continue to fight for public transportation, ensuring the orange line at Assembly Square stays on track and working to expand the green line through Route 16. I’ll also work to expand the bike path to Boston, keep our streets clean, neighborhoods safe and promote smart growth development.”
“My first order of business would be to request a comprehensive listing of all major development projects approved and under construction, those proposed, and those who have indicated an initial interest in submitting plans to the city of Somerville. I would take a hard look at the adequacy of our current zoning laws regarding these projects. I would ask for the city’s assessment of overall development cost, expected permitting fees, commercial tax revenue generated, number of temporary and permanent jobs established, linkage fees negotiated, total and affordable housing units promised and how these projects conform with the City’s Master Plan.”
“My top priority will be protecting residents and improving the quality of life in Somerville as development occurs. Residents need to be more involved during planning. When zoning laws need modification, the changes must result in improved quality of life with a better environment and more green spaces. As the new Orange and Green Line stations bring change, our older buildings must be preserved for their valuable function as less expensive space where new businesses and innovators can grow and become established. As new housing is built, low income family, elderly and artist living/work space needs to be included.”
“The number one issue will be jobs for Somerville residents – non-union and union. Non-union should get first preference. We should reward loyal residents who have lived here, bought houses and made Somerville part of their life. Somerville residents have been short out of work at Max Pak and Assembly Row, while work is going to NY, Vermont and NH. I would work with various unions, the Somerville Labor Coalition and Boston Labor Council to try to come up with an ordinance like some cities have. If you’re going to build in our backyard, then play by our rules.”
MARY JO ROSSETTI
“If elected by the people, I will bring with me the same drive and passion I currently employ as chair of the Somerville School Committee. Each one of us has strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing the strengths and leveraging that connection to harness teamwork within a community makes for a successful outcome. Additionally, there are new state grant monies now available and I don’t feel that Somerville has taken enough opportunity to apply for these funds. I do my homework and am not afraid to make decisions. Somerville has much to be proud of, but there is also much to consider.”