See the Town Council Candidates’ Stances on Major Issues in Town

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At this past summer’s Annual Meeting of Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment, members were asked to identify their key areas of concern.

Based on the results of that meeting, the following two questions were sent to all candidates running on Nov. 3 for election to the Watertown Town Council:

1. Three major environmental areas in which Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment would like to see the town take an active role are listed below. Please pick one and explain what you would do about it.

– Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

– Enhancing municipal commitments to green practices in such areas as energy efficiency, recycling and renewable energy.

– Caring for Watertown’s natural environment, including addressing Charles River pollution, reducing town-wide use of pesticides and other toxins, and tree conservation.

2. Our members are also concerned about social justice and seek ways to have a local impact. Choose one of the following and describe what you would do to address it.

– Protecting our increasingly diverse community

– Treatment of Drug Addiction

– Affordable Housing and Income Inequality

Watertown Citizens deeply appreciates the effort and thoughtfulness each candidate demonstrated by the responses below.

Mark Sideris, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Council President

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

The area of transportation is where I would like to focus my efforts. We need to carefully look at our roadways, traffic signals and intersections to make the necessary improvements that will enhance multimodal transportation. There has been talk of a “transportation planner” but I would suggest it needs to be more than that. I would advocate for bringing in a consultant or two to help us because it is a much larger issue, which needs to also include the DPW. We also need to make sure that the improvements being made by the new developments are coordinated with the town’s vision for transportation all along these corridors so that we are not going in opposite directions.

2) Treatment of Drug Addiction

The drug addiction problem is an area that I also would choose to focus on. We need to address this issue in a number of ways, as it is getting worse by the day. I would try to focus on educating folks, starting with the schools as a way to help understand the horrible things that can happen when you get hooked on any type of substance. The town also needs to find ways to support and provide services to the people who are affected. This will take a lot of effort, as we are now reacting to the problem. We need to be more proactive in order for us to be effective. I will support what we have already put in place but will work to provide more resources to this effort.

Clyde Younger, Candidate for Election: Town Council President

1) – Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

In order to improve traffic control, the town should synchronize traffic lights to correspond with established speed limits. This would reduce the number of cars sitting in intersections idling, exhausting carbon dioxide and monoxide, adding to greenhouse gas pollution. The town should hire civilians for traffic control during peak commuting periods. Uniform presence should mitigate drivers blocking intersections. The town should explore with the Department of Transportation whether it may be able to obtain a grant to make use of new smart traffic light technology. Piloted in Pittsburgh, this utilizes a buried induction coil to sense the presence of signals that adapt to information received through a central computer. The signals communicate with each other and adapt to changing traffic conditions to reduce the amount of time cars spend idling. The program monitors vehicle  numbers and reduces congestion wherever possible. As new large developments are approved, piloting the smart traffic signals can play an important role in our handling additional traffic.

Regarding public transportation, the council can invite a representative of the MBTA to a meeting in Watertown so the MBTA, our State House Representatives and State Senator can hear concerns of residents; and we in turn, can learn about plans for improving services.

2) Affordable Housing and Income Inequality

First, I would provide a definition of the term affordable housing – is it 150%, 200% or 300% of poverty? For a family of four this can range from $24,250 to $72,750. Guidelines state you should not spend more than 30% of your income before taxes on housing. Fortunately Watertown only requires that a family spend 30% of income on public housing. We have families waiting over a year for public housing. Our current council increased the percent of affordable apartments in new developments from 10% to 12 ½%. I have been unable to obtain the affordable rental leasing market costs for the new developments. However, as area housing prices and property taxes increase, one would assume rental charges are also increasing.

No one is stepping forward to lease the East and North Libraries. We need additional housing to relieve the long list of families waiting for public housing. I believe the town should consider razing the East and North Libraries and build public housing on these two sites. The two buildings could be built using the latest green and energy technology. If housing is not possible, the two sites could be razed and made into small parks.

Michael Dattoli, Candidate for Election: Town Councilor-At-Large

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

Watertown is a high-density area, with a high volume of commuters traveling through our neighborhoods each day. I support the recent proposal to fund a Transportation Management Association (TMA) to provide supplemental transportation services within our community for a fee. Watertown should be investing in innovative approaches to transportation management: improving bike networks and bike sharing programs, maintaining sidewalks that promote pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, expanding and improving local transit, and creating charging stations for electric vehicles.

Watertown leaders must offer solutions to long-haul commuters. Local streets have become mini-highways, with increased congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation initiatives should aim to reduce the number of cars on our roads. I support incentives to local businesses that promote telecommuting to their employees, and simple solutions such as re-timing and synchronization of traffic signals to reduce idling and rapid acceleration/deceleration.

I advocate for a Complete Streets approach to provide safer streets for motorists, pedestrians, public transit users and cyclists. Complete Streets benefits economic activity. Businesses in San Francisco’s Mission district saw a 60% increase in sales when a bike lane was added to one major street. Complete Street initiatives also attract small businesses to an area and contribute to a healthier community.

2) Treatment of Drug Addiction

During my time working with the MA Department of Mental Health and Boston Public Health Commission, I visited correctional facilities and treatment centers providing services to individuals returning to the community. I learned from these experiences that we must create more opportunities for prevention and education, while simultaneously decriminalizing society’s approach to dealing with those suffering from these dependencies.

Arlington and Gloucester Police Departments have begun outreach programs that provide treatment services and crucial resources to those in highest need. People suffering from drug dependency should be identified by local police departments as needing social services, not criminal conviction.

Watertown is faced with the harsh reality that opiate use is not limited to one demographic. As Town Councilor, I will continue to promote prevention, education, and direct treatment efforts to reverse this trend in Watertown. Opiate abuse services have suffered as a result of reduced prevention and education efforts, along with decreased funding for direct services provided through treatment centers. Our community must come together to address these issues.

Additionally, the funding of a Social Services Resource Specialist position will ensure that the needs for services and programs are identified centrally, and that those needs will be appropriately met through referrals and linkages.

Aaron Dushku, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Councilor-At-Large

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

If I am re-elected in 2015, I see the completion of our town’s off-street bicycle paths as a high priority. This project already has ‘wheels in motion,’ but I will monitor the progress vigilantly and participate actively in the discussion. The same goes for several other major transportation projects that impact us: the Arsenal Street Corridor study (started this month), the Mt. Auburn Street reconstruction, and the Fresh Pond Parkway/Mt. Auburn Street intersection. I will advocate for meeting timetables for the projects while also staying true to the goals of cyclist-friendly planning and improved mass transit flow. I will work to ensure that the Watertown TMA’s shuttle service is designed with the needs of our residents in mind. I will not waiver from a long-term vision for Watertown that includes Bus Rapid Transit to the future West Station in Allston.

I will continue to work with our staff and with developers for traffic mitigation measures that prioritize public transit and cyclists. I will continue the work I’ve started to reform the way we treat parking in Watertown. Highest on my list is to develop parking and commuting data reporting requirements for property managers to better inform our policy decisions.

2) Treatment of Drug Addiction

While I am proud of my work to help form an Opioids Task Force and to formulate a town-wide Emergency Action Plan, it is not enough to stop there. We must keep pace with this vicious epidemic. I will work to support our Health and Police Departments as they devise ways to reach out to connect our residents with the services that they need to recover and to further destigmatize the matter in this community. I will continue insisting that the upcoming police patrolmen’s contract include a NARCAN administration policy. Privacy laws limit us to only certain activities, but I will continue to think creatively about ways to offer follow-up to residents who have received NARCAN treatments from our police supervisors or fire department EMT’s. I will work with the WPD to analyze performance data from our on-site clinician so that we can monitor the program’s effectiveness and assess how to optimize the rewards of the position.

Lastly, I believe in the importance of the social service resource specialist and her role in connecting residents with addiction or mental health issues with the resources they require. I will always be a vote in favor of full funding of that position.

Susan Falkoff, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Councilor-At-Large

1) Caring for Watertown’s natural environment, including addressing Charles River pollution, reducing town-wide use of pesticides and other toxins, and tree conservation As a councilor, environmental protection and land use planning have always been my #1 priorities. Some goals for the next term are:

  • Charles River. As a councilor, I can have the greatest impact on the Charles River by supporting good stormwater management practices. I will be sure that Stormwater management figures into the zoning changes we make based on the comprehensive plan, work to implement any recommendations of the Stormwater Advisory Committee, and continue to hold the Public Works Department accountable for detecting and correcting deficiencies in our sewer system.
  • Pesticides. Why do landscapers think that a blank oval of pesticide-dependent grass is the only definition of passive recreation? I have opposed this feature in plans for the new park on Irving Street and will firmly oppose the current plan for a large grass oval at Filippello Park.
  • Trees. I just returned from a 2-day Tree Steward Training program where I learned a great deal about protecting urban trees and why they matter. I will follow up on grant opportunities I learned about, demand better practices during road construction, and improve the coordination between our Tree Warden and the Public Works Department employees who manage planting and ongoing maintenance.

2) Affordable Housing and Income Inequality

The lack of affordable housing options is a great concern that merits more attention if we are to remain the diverse community we value. Here are some thoughts on possible actions:

  • Halt inappropriate teardowns. All over town, comfortable modest homes are being re-developed as multi-unit dwellings with extravagant per-unit costs. I strongly support implementing legal remedies to make this practice more difficult.
  • In 2013, the state completed a Housing Production Plan (HPP) for Watertown. The HPP made recommendations on how we might go from our current 6.5% affordable housing to the state’s goal of 10%. Some ideas for further consideration are:
    •  Allow approval of multi-unit dwellings in some areas without a special permit if the project includes a designated number of affordable units.
    • Reduce our rigid standard for per-unit parking requirements in order to encourage multi-family development in appropriate transit-accessible locations.
    • Pass the Community Preservation Act – a modest surtax that, with matching state funds, would yield additional income to create affordable housing (and protect historic resources and increase open space). This measure failed here once. Could we successfully convince the electorate now that this measure is in our best interest?

Patryce Georgopoulos, Candidate for Election: Town Councilor-At-Large

1) Improving Multimodal Transportation Options and Traffic Control

As our town becomes an even more desirable place to live, work, and establish a business, traffic and transportation issues and traffic control become more acute. The current traffic congestion in Watertown is associated with fast economic growth. Rather than stalling this growth, as it is an indication that Watertown is an active and vibrant community, we must commit ourselves to managing it. I support a multi-faceted approach in which safety of our citizens is paramount. We need to work together to achieve the following:

  1. Insist on the prompt repair of roads and pedestrian ways;
  2. Work with experts to improve the flow of traffic through habitually congested areas;
  3. Adjust the transportation system to take advantage of the new spirit of improving public transportation to enhance the increased frequency and improve the reliability of theMBTA;
  4. Lobby developers and employ zoning to improve the availability of off-street parking;
  5. Work with employers to promote carpooling to reduce the amount of vehicles on the street;
  6. Where feasible, allow for bicycle lanes, but recognize the tradeoffs between such measures and safety of cyclists;
  7. Be in constant touch with our residents to identify and resolve problems associated with traffic congestion and safety.

2) Treatment of Drug Addiction

The Watertown community is plagued by opioid abuse. According to the police and fire department statistics, Watertown has seen 8 deaths since January 2015 and 37 non-fatal over doses. The W.A.T.E.R.TOWN Task Force (Watertown Access to Treatment Education and Resources), whose purpose is to help combat this abuse, has been established. I have participated in Task Force meetings. I am working in collaboration with committee members, service agencies and providers and public safety officials to learn how best to remedy opioid abuse.

The necessary steps include:

  1. Helping, educating and working with victims and their families with recovery and promoting hope, health and healing;
  2. Drawing upon the expertise of care givers, teachers, public safety officials, specialists in addiction who embrace creative and effective solutions in order to enact appropriate measures;
  3. Promoting early intervention through careful screening of middle and high school- aged children and improving the curriculum at these schools to educate the students;
  4. Identifying and disrupting those locations where drug trafficking occurs; and
  5. Working with the various agencies of the Commonwealth to assure coordination of efforts and availability of resources to assist us in combating drug abuse.

Tony Palomba, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Councilor-At-Large

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

The Town Council should support increased use of public transit and greater opportunity for residents to bike and walk to destinations in Watertown. Together these efforts would reduce the use of cars and thus traffic congestion.

I am a member of the Watertown Public Transit Task Force (WPTTF), which advocates for increased and improved MBTA service. Reliable public transit is an environmental and social justice issue. The Town Council should partner with WPTTF and our representatives in the Legislature to pressure the MBTA.

The Town Council should support and fund as necessary the Town’s initiation of a Transportation Management Association (TMA). TMA is a public/private venture that, among other things, provides bus shuttle service to employees of major businesses and to the public in and around Watertown and to and from key MBTA services.

If residents of Watertown select walking and biking, they need streets and sidewalks that are safe and accommodating. The Town Council should increase funding for sidewalk and road repair and maintenance, address safety concerns at major intersections, enforce existing snow removal ordinances, pass a residential snow ordinance, provide bike racks at key business centers, redesign more streets to include bike lanes, and investigate bike-sharing options.

2) Treatment of Drug Addiction

The use of opioids and deaths due to opioid overdoses is a statewide, and Watertown, epidemic. When was the last time nine residents died in 6 months to any disease? Watertown has come together to respond to the crisis. The Town Council, through its Human Services Committee, the Town under the leadership of the Health and Police Departments, Watertown Public Schools, first responders, prevention advocates, service providers, individuals in recovery, clergy and concerned families have formed W.A.T.E.R.town (Watertown Access to Treatment, Education, and Resource on Substance Use Disorders).

The Council should:

  • Support the coalition’s Erase the Stigma Week (10/18 – 10/25) and encourage all residents to attend the educational and awareness activities.
  • Recognize, through a Town Council resolution, that addiction is a treatable, preventable disease that is better described as a substance use disorder.
  • Review, support, and provide funding as needed for implementation of the Town’s “Opioid Action Plan” that includes steps to continue public awareness, increase prevention efforts in schools, and provide reliable treatment resources.
  • Fund the purchase and placement of a second drug drop box in Watertown.
  • Fund the Social Services Resource Specialist as a full-time position.
  • Forcefully advocate for increased funding for treatment facilities.

* Full Disclosure: I am a member of the Steering Committee of Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment.

Bob Erickson, Candidate for Election: Town Councilor, District A

1) Caring for Watertown’s natural environment, including addressing Charles River pollution, reducing town-wide use of pesticides and other toxins and tree conservation As someone who grew up in Watertown and fished as a youngster in the Charles River, all of these areas are of deep concern to me. Accordingly, I will:

  • Encourage the use of alternatives, such as the goats that were used near the new park on Charles River Road, to remediate areas of poison ivy and other poisonous plants instead of potentially hazardous chemicals
  • Advocate for the use of pesticides that are human and pet friendly
  • Periodically check with DCR as to the water quality of the Charles River, request reports of the potential pollution concerns and work to resolve the issues
  • Hold meetings with the Watertown Tree Warden and Trees for Watertown to insure that a reasonable tree replacement policy is applied throughout the town, that ample notice is given to residents when public street trees are removed and hearings will be scheduled as required. I will investigate resident issues with utility companies as to the detrimental cutting of branches.

I will continue to attend Stormwater Task Force meetings and insure that suggestions for homeowners and businesses are available to our residents.

2) Treatment of Drug Addiction

As the past Veterans’ Service Officer for the Town of Watertown, I dealt with numerous cases of addiction issues. Presently, Watertown is experiencing a serious problem with opiate addiction.

I will:

  • Continue to stay involved with the “Watertown Against Substance Abuse” task force, having attended the recent meeting at Saint Patrick’s Church
  • Work to advise friends in town whose family members have substance abuse issues, in obtaining medical assistance and if necessary, sober/halfway residential placement
  • Educate myself on a continual basis as to the scope of the issue in Watertown by consulting with the Watertown Police, Fire and Health Departments, Wayside, Narcotics Anonymous, and numerous other websites I have compiled
  • Continue to carry Narcan (Naloxone) in my automobile and at home in the event that I can help someone who has overdosed
  • Reach out to those with substance abuse issues by use of social media to make them aware that I will assist them in a non-threatening manner for them to acquire the help they need. I like the Gloucester Police Department model whereby they identify and help those with substance abuse problems, not put them in jail.

Angeline B. Kounelis, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Councilor District A

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

The amount of $130,000 has been appropriated for various transportation initiatives inclusive of establishing Transportation Management Assoc. (TMA). The TMA will be responsible for reviewing the implementation of shuttle bus routes to reduce the demand for private vehicles and enhance public transportation.

Effective with the FY 2010 Budget Policy Guideline, I brought forward the request to include consideration for mitigation monies for larger scale projects. Developers must re-invest in improvements to infrastructure and traffic impacts associated with their projects.

My efforts to improve public safety, energy efficiency and recycling include the following:

  • Rallied residents to support receiving State monies for upgrades to the four-way Arlington St. and Nichols Ave. intersection. The long pending signalization at the Grove St. Extension and Greenough Blvd. came to fruition when Rep. Hecht secured State funding.
  • Coolidge Sq. Design and Renovation is queued in the Capital Improvement Program with funds to be determined.
  • Brought forward the Trash Toter System when others said the program was logistically impossible to implement in Watertown.
  • Nineteen LED street lights were installed in Coolidge Sq. that produce energy use savings of approximately 43% per unit.

I share my proven successes as a vision for the future.

2) Protecting our increasingly diverse community

My family moved to East Watertown in 1964; fifty-one blissful years ago. The schools were diverse; Coolidge Sq. was diverse; the houses of worship were diverse; the neighborhoods were diverse before the meaning of the word was known. I am the daughter of Greek immigrants; first generation Greek-American. I have lived the diverse East End experience.

East Enders have strong ethnic bonds that have grown through the decades to form lasting friendships. When my neighbors needed assistance to keep the doors open to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, I offered of myself for their cause. For thirteen months, I worked with my friends to create the window of opportunity that saved their house of worship from suppression.

There were no boundaries associated with ethnicity or diversity, only the common thread of humanity. I offer my own life experience within our community as my commitment for continued interaction with all my neighbors, irrespective of their heritage.

Lisa Feltner, Candidate for Election: Town Councilor, District B

1) Enhancing municipal commitments to green practices in such areas as energy efficiency, recycling and renewable energy I support Smart Growth policies, and think Watertown should seize the opportunity to actively promote sustainable projects and embrace progressive and net-zero energy goals. We could accelerate our commitment to take climate action in buildings, transportation and waste; our progress on reduced emissions and adaptation to climate change should be measured and reported consistently. We should investigate collaboration with neighboring cities.

As a resident who loves to garden, I understand the vital importance of good soil, vibrant plant life, and sustainable water usage. In other communities, there have been successful citizen-led initiatives that have become town-wide programs with the support of local legislators and partners such as school departments, the library, MassDEP, haulers.  I am intrigued by large-scale state efforts, such as Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, as well as municipal efforts by our Cambridge neighbors’ recent successful completion of a compost curbside pilot.

Locally-based composting can be on different scales and there are a range of models and activities that could work for Watertown: community drop-offs, training and demo sites, collection and composting services, to even smaller scale projects such as school community gardens. I would like to see curbside pickup for compostables and community compost site(s).

2) Affordable Housing and Income Inequality

Smart growth policies not only integrate transportation and land use decisions; they empower us to design communities with a strong sense of place.  These policies also create a range of housing opportunities and choices, with community and stakeholder collaboration. The need for affordable housing affects many cities and towns, so it is instructive to look at progress made by Metro West Collaborative Development and the Housing Corporation of Arlington. Although we have raised the threshold from 10% to 12.5% for affordable housing units in new large developments, there are more goals outlined in the Watertown Housing Production plan that should be considered. It would also be beneficial to consider creating incentives to renovate and maintain the older housing stock that already exists in Watertown.

There are different approaches to reaching these goals. They can be citizen-led or Town-led, but what is significant is that they involve effective collaboration between all stakeholders. As a town councilor, I would support various collaboration methods (e.g. as chair of a working group, or in support of a task force led by citizen advocates) in the ongoing effort to improve issues of concern for public life in Watertown.

Cecilia Lenk, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Councilor, District B

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control; Enhancing municipal commitments to green practices in such areas as energy efficiency, recycling and renewable energy; Caring for Watertown’s natural environment, including addressing Charles River pollution, reducing town-wide use of pesticides and other toxins, and tree conservation.

The three environmental areas identified by the Watertown Citizens organization– improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control; enhanced energy efficiency, recycling, and use of renewable energies; and caring for our natural environment– are all areas I am deeply committed to. I have an exemplary record of working to put real solutions in place that address these including: implanting the toter recycling and trash collection; putting in place the Town’s Energy Service (ESCO) contract to dramatically improve energy efficiency in all Town and School buildings; collaborating with DCR and private foundations to improve the parklands and river bank along Charles River Road; supporting the new storm water and erosion control ordinance; and building regional collaborations to manage and solve our transportation and traffic problems. With a degree in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University, I have the engineering, scientific, and technical expertise to tackle these problems effectively. I am committed to finding solutions to storm water runoff; helping Watertown to reduce our energy use and eliminate activities that contribute to climate change; and creating effective alliances with neighboring communities to manage traffic and build innovative transportation systems for the betterment of Watertown.

2) Affordable Housing and Income Inequality

As I have talked to residents throughout District B, I have been extremely concerned by the impact of Watertown’s rising taxes on many homeowners. With the increase in home valuations, many residents are worried that they will no longer be able to afford to stay in their homes. This is a very real problem and one that if re-elected I pledge to address. We need new revenues and fiscally sound financial policies that will allow us to both spend money on education and new services, continuing to improve our streets and roads and aging water and sewer infrastructure, and the many other issues residents have identified, and at the same time assure homeowners are not burdened by taxes and can remain in their homes. I have a proven record at District B Councilor and member of the Budget and Fiscal Oversight Committee of implementing sound fiscal policies and putting in place a Town’s budget that is both responsible and addresses the needs of the community.

Rossella Mercuri – Candidate for Election: Town Councilor District C

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

As Watertown’s population continues to grow and attract more residents, we need to focus on multimodal transportation options and more importantly traffic control. There is no question that traffic is a major issue for residents.  While the town encourages walking and bike transportation, the Town is simply not setup for this at this time. Watertown Square seems to be the area of most concern.

Before we approve any further residential and/or commercial developments, the traffic issues that are present now need to be addressed.  I would like to see a clear plan of action that specifically address the Watertown Square area. All plausible solutions should be considered with input from residents.

2) Treatment of Drug Addiction

Unfortunately, Watertown is not immune to drug addiction.  I believe the Town is taking appropriate measures to address this while working closely with the Police Department and implementing programs such as Erase the Stigma Week.  While these programs are certainly beneficial, we still need more programs and education in the schools and faith-based communities to address drug addiction at an early age.  Family-centered programs can also help improve understanding about the issue and allow families to communicate within the family.

Some programs that can be considered are: Town Hall meetings to raise awareness; collaborating with faith-based communities, social clubs to provide a strong support system; training for adults to identify at risk individuals; Mentor Program for recovering individuals.  I believe the greatest and most important task in combating drug addiction is educating the community, in particular our youth.

Vincent Piccirilli, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Councilor District C

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

Traffic congestion in Watertown has long been a problem. Known as the “Crossroads on the Charles,” we are bounded by history and geography. As a densely populated community, with many homes built before the age of the auto and streets laid out in the 19th century, we can’t build more roads. The problems of choke points at the four river crossings, the dysfunction of the Fresh Pond/Mt Auburn intersection, and the Exit 17 traffic can’t be solved by Watertown alone and require a regional solution.

With the recent passage of the Comprehensive Plan, the Town Council has begun work in three key areas:

  • Reducing the number of cars on the road by making it more attractive to walk, bike, or use mass transit (including a local Transit Management Association) to get to work, school or local businesses. This requires zoning changes, as well as infrastructure improvements like safer sidewalks and the community path.
  • Improving key intersections to ease traffic flow, with better roadway markings (left turn lanes, enhanced crosswalks), smart signals with vehicle sensors, and additional enforcement like “Don’t Block the Box”.
  • Working with neighboring communities, the MBTA, and MassDOT to address metropolitan-wide issues of commuter traffic.

2) Protecting our increasingly diverse community

Throughout our 385-year history, Watertown has always been a very diverse community: ethnically, economically, and religiously.  Each century has seen an influx of newcomers, but we adapted and flourished. Today, our diversity is celebrated as a source of strength and vibrancy, and Watertown is rightly known for its welcoming attitude.

Watertown’s diversity has grown in many ways – in residents with disabilities, in sexual orientation or gender identity, and with increasing numbers of residents of different religious faiths.

While I think we do a great job incorporating newcomers into the fabric of Watertown, there are things the Town Council can do to protect our increasingly diverse community:

  • Enhance training for our police and fire departments to help them deal appropriately with the diverse range of residents in Watertown.
  • Build trust in the immigrant community by instituting a policy of not detaining undocumented residents who are not accused of a crime, or without a criminal warrant.
  • Ensure ongoing funding for the Social Services Resource Specialist to continue to provide assistance to at-risk residents.

Finally, Councilors can and should lead by example and promote tolerance through their words and actions.

Ken Woodland, Candidate for Re-Election: Town Councilor, District D

1) Improving multimodal transportation options and traffic control

One of the most pivotal issues that the Council will address in the coming years is transportation and traffic control. There is no one way to solve these problems and therefore as Councilor I will work on a multifaceted implementation of several policies. First is to start looking into a TMA (Transportation Management Association). An inner town transportation system is crucial to mitigating traffic and providing the connections and services needed by residents. The Town Council has already allocated funds to hire a consultant to start designing and implementing a plan. Next, it is equally important to continue working with the state to increase and expand MBTA services. Additionally, many developments and dense neighborhoods are looking into private shuttle programs and hosting Hubway services for public use. It is also important that Watertown continue to coordinate with surrounding communities when addressing traffic mitigation and flow. Watertown residents are not the only ones using our streets and services, and I believe that the eventual success of these initiatives will go hand-in-hand with taking a more holistic and united approach.

2) Affordable Housing and Income Inequality

I currently represent District D on the Town Council. This west Watertown district runs east to west along Lexington Street to Waltham, and south to north from Newton to Belmont. In that roughly one square mile, there are over 600 low-income housing units. Preserving the quality of these housing units and increasing the overall number of units of affordable housing is a priority for the town and I have pursued these two objectives in many ways. First and foremost, I voted to increase the requirement of affordable units in new developments from 10% to 12.5%. Not only is this important in maintaining an economically diverse community but also puts Watertown in a stronger place to approach the 10% affordable housing threshold that prevents a Chapter 40B option for future developments. Additionally, to maintain quality, I believe it is important to maintain local control for housing units. As such, I have actively worked in opposition to a state initiative that would consolidate housing programs into significantly larger district operations. This initiative would have reduced the overall quality of life for housing residents and I will continue to advocate for local governance.

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