Kevin MacDonald is running for District B Town Councilor. The preliminary election is on Thursday, Sept. 17.
Why did you decide to run for District B Town Councilor, is there an issue that drew you in?
To be honest, I did not have any intention of running for Town Council. Over the last few years, as I watched my taxes continue to go up, my neighborhood become threatened by massive development, and how my department has been treated regarding our contract dispute, I realized I had to get involved. I was told by multiple individuals that calls and emails to our sitting Councilor Cecilia Lenk were going unanswered. When I reached out to Councilor Lenk by phone and email I also received no response. Looking back I saw that she had run unopposed and the fact that she never responded to me did not sit well. As I talked with my neighbors and fellow residents I found that people in my district were very frustrated. Between the Arsenal Street developments and the Athena Health projects, this town will be adding over 2000 cars to our streets as well as adding even more traffic lights. The traffic is going to get even worse, and the quiet streets of precinct 5 will become a nightmare of cut throughs. The presentations from the developers used terminology like “Encourage pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit use”, “Discourage vehicle use”, and “shared parking opportunities”. To me that is really saying there’s not going to be enough parking. I fully support incentives for people to find alternate means of transportation but let’s be honest, when it’s snowing, raining, or you have kids in school, people drive their cars. And lets not pretend that riding the 70A MBTA bus is a pleasant experience. My town used to be a town of single, two, and three family homes. Now they are trying to make it into the new Cambridge or Somerville. Sure the tax revenue is appetizing, but the trade off is not worth it.
What is an issue or initiative you think is important to specifically to District B?
District B is going to be completely changed by the development and the communication with the community has been poor. For example, I’m hearing that Beacon Park residents were told that the Hanover Development would provide new trees and landscaping to the Arsenal St. sides of their properties so they would not be staring out their windows at a giant garage, but that it is now ‘not in the budget’. If they said that, they should not get their occupancy permit till it’s done. Residents are told that the new developments will not have direct vehicle access to the Parker Street neighborhood, but what happens if the batting cages get sold? We need to look at what will make our town a nicer place to live. It’s not just about maximizing revenue over the short term. People buy homes here to live and raise families, not for the sole purpose of property value. Condominium complexes are not the answer.
What is your profession or main focus?
I am a firefighter the Watertown Fire Department.
Do you have a family? If so tell us about them.
Yes, I am blessed with an amazing wife named Dawn who works as a charge nurse at Brigham and Womens Hospital and we have 2 sons Cameron (10) and Andrew (7) who attend the Hosmer School.
What townwide issue do you feel is the most important?
I think the biggest issue in the town is the lack of transparency in our government. It appears that all Council business is done behind closed doors in “Executive Session” meetings. Is it not odd that, in May of 2008, the Council votes to give the Town Manager an 11% raise, followed by another 4.5% less than a year later in January, 2009. Then, just 3 months later in April, the Manager announces town wide salary freezes, the elimination of 4 police officer positions, and the elimination of 6 firefighter positions. But yet at the very same meeting, the Council votes 8-1 to give the Town Auditor a 7% raise.
Petitions from citizens get ignored and the only time people are heard is during open forum and for no more than 2 minutes at a time. Having been to these meetings and watching Council members more focused on their laptops than what the people who pay their salary and health insurance have to say is outright disrespectful. The form of government the Charter established has been compromised. The system of checks and balances the Charter established ignored. The people of Watertown worked hard to establish that Charter and when the Council doesn’t follow it, it’s time to replace them.
What experience do you have that would be useful as a Town Councilor?
I was born and raised in District B. In my early twenties I lived in many states across the US for years, then chose to settle and raise my family right back here in District B. My family has been in Watertown for 5 generations and I’m raising the 6th here because I love this town. If elected to Council, I am not allowed to take the salary, nor vote on any Fire Department issues. The only reason I am in this race is to try to make Watertown a better place to live. I work in town and see firsthand how it works and can be improved everyday. I’m not a politician nor have any aspirations to be such. As a member of the Council I would not regard myself as your leader, but rather as a public servant looking out for your concerns. And, if elected, I WILL call you back!
What is something that people may not know about you?
I am a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) referee who is one of just 7 individuals in North America approved to train Judges and Referees for the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC). It can be a stressful job but it is one which requires me to make fair decisions, even in hostile environments. You only get one chance to get it right in officiating, which I think holds true at the ballot box as well!