Candidates in for District B discussed the biggest issues they see for the district and the town and why they are running for the Town Council during Wednesday night’s Candidate Forum hosted by Watertown News.
When asked by moderator Will Twombly about what they thought was the biggest issue was each had their own view.
For challenger Kevin MacDonald, a Watertown Firefighter, traffic was his biggest concern.
“Traffic is a mess, and I keep reading things from the Council and the Comprehensive Plan talking about reducing the amount of parking, and I they think that will alleviate traffic,” MacDonald said. “But it forces people out onto residential streets to park.”
Traffic also weighs on challenger Patty van Dinter’s mind.
“We see it on the East End with athenahealth running out of parking and people parking on the road near the Watertown Yacht Club. In the evenings, the amount of traffic going by on Arsenal Street you can’t go to Target anymore,” van Dinter said. “It’s great to study traffic, but it should have been done before adding more projects.”
Current District B Councilor Cecilia Lenk said she wants to protect the town’s neighborhoods by creating design guidelines for those areas in a process similar to what was done to create the guidelines for the commercial areas of Watertown.
She also thought schools should be a focus, and said she would continue to support the town giving large funding increases to the schools to “make the Watertown Schools the best in the Commonwealth.”
Challenger Lisa Feltner said she has always been concerned with development, and making sure it is done right. To do so, she said, town officials need to work together with developers and include the community in the discussion.
“There is a need for community engagement,” Feltner said. “It only works when the three legs of the stool – the residents, the town and developers – work together well.”
Why They are Running
Feltner said she has learned about the needs and desires of the people of Watertown while serving on the Concerned Citizens Group, and while working at MIT, she learned how to juggle competing priorities.
“I care about the quality of life in Watertown, and this is an opportunity to do things better,” Feltner said.
Lenk said she hopes to continue the work she has done for the past 5-1/2 years.
“I wake up each day and think about what I can do for District B and the town,” Lenk said. “Make fiscally responsible decisions, deliver the best possible services, improve the schools and repair the streets.”
For van Dinter, she got into the race because she thinks many Watertown residents do feel like their concerns are being heard.
“I started all this because I was hearing from neighbors who felt they weren’t being heard,” van Dinter said. “They sit through meetings and nothing would be decided, or the Council would vote against everyone in the room.”
MacDonald said the Council voting down the Firefighters contract got him into the race, but added as a firefighter he could not vote on the contract or WFD issues. When he reached out to the council, particularly Lenk, MacDonald said he did not hear back from her. He promised to change that. He also wants to make sure the Council is being fair to all.
“I feel the Council is out of touch and is selectively enforcing the Town Charter, a document my father helped draft,” MacDonald said.
Follow Watertown News for more stories from the District B Candidate Forum.