Today, I am formally announcing my candidacy for reelection to the Ward 1 City Council seat.
During the past 16 months, my colleagues on the City Council and I took action on critical issues, including the housing crisis, climate emergency, diversifying participation in municipal government, relief for renters, zoning reforms, and examining the impact of adult-use retail marijuana dispensaries before voting to approve a cap.
I look forward to furthering my work on important issues facing our community, including advocating for affordable and workforce housing; supporting the new Division of Community Care and Climate Action Department; ensuring that all downtown constituencies are heard as plans progress to redesign Main Street; and, with my colleagues, taking action on the extensive recommendations made by the City Council Select Committee to Study Barriers to Serving on City Boards and Commissions.
In Ward 1, I will continue to support affordable housing projects at the former nursing home at 737 Bridge Road, where Valley Community Development Corp. plans 60 apartments, and 196 Cooke Ave., where the city proposes four units. And I will work with neighbors of both sites to make sure they are part of the planning process as these projects progress.
These and other issues important to my constituents will help inform my continuing work on the City Council’s Committee on Finance and Committee on Legislative Matters.
During my first year on the City Council, I was proud to serve on the mayor’s advisory commission that helped determine how to spend $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to assist some of the most vulnerable members of our community in recovering from the pandemic. I am pleased that my priorities were met as 27 percent of the funds went to housing and shelter services and another 25 percent addressed food insecurity. The 61 total grants also will be used to assist nonprofits, support small businesses, finance arts programs, and aid early education, child care, health care and other projects that help reconnect the community.
Additionally, I will work with my colleagues in municipal government and Northampton’s state legislators to ensure that revenue produced by the Fair Share Amendment is used as intended for education and transportation infrastructure. And, in general, I will advocate for increased state aid to bolster the city’s school budget, which is particularly important as our students continue to recover from educational losses resulting from the pandemic.
Another highlight of this City Council term is the approval of an order seeking special legislation to adopt ranked-choice voting in municipal elections. That is the final piece of legislation resulting from recommendations made by the Charter Review Committee that I chaired in 2019, which focused on expanded voting rights and increasing participation in elections.
Offices that will be filled in the Nov. 7 election are two at-large and seven ward seats for City Council; two at-large and seven ward seats for School Committee; three Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School trustees; three Forbes Library trustees; two members of the Community Preservation Committee; and one elector under the Oliver Smith will. If needed, a preliminary election will be held Sept. 19.
Nomination papers for all offices are now available from the city clerk’s office, and must be submitted by July 24 to the Registrar of Voters for certification of signatures.