Clyde Younger is running for Town Council President in the Nov. 3 election.
Watertown News sent the Council President a set of questions about the upcoming election.
1) As Town Council President, how will you balance the needs and wants of the Town Administration with those of Watertown residents?
The imbalance in the city centers on the centralization of power in one person’s hand. I will implement change, in collaboration with the other councilors, to bring this position in line with the Home Rule Charter. Currently, we have a mayor who is beholden to no one other than the Watertown Town Council.
I will lead the Council in exercising its legislative and policy making responsibilities.
The Town Administration is established to serve and meet the needs of Watertown’s Residents and Taxpayers, not dictate.
Most residents I talk to feel that their concerns go unheeded. An example is a petition with 400 signatures on it opposing a certain project. A person turned to a neighbor and stated they have already made up their minds.
It appears the current administration feels revenue growth is solely accomplished through development of large apartments and condominiums. While these block buildings are being done, residents I talk to do not see any stabilization in their tax bills, in terms of their property taxes not increasing or decreasing. I believe most residents are concerned about the quality of life in Watertown and wish to see increased revenue generated for the general fund by bringing into Watertown quality businesses and supporting local small business owners.
Small Businesses nationally employ 50 percent of all workers. Consequently, our emphasis should be on assisting, supporting and emphasizing local businesses. In discussions with local businesses, the perception real or unreal, Watertown has a reputation for being anti-business.
Watertown residents are also concerned about the quality of life in the city, its portability rather than congested streets and wish to see streets and sidewalks repaired, parks, open space and other essential services maintained. We have excellent employees who believe in focusing upon doing their jobs.
It would not hurt to have a “WELCOME TO YOUR TOWN HALL” posted because many people feel intimidated once confronted by a barrier (table) or counter between city employees and their elected and appointed officials.
2) The Council President also sits on the School Committee. What will be your main focus for the Watertown Public Schools if you are elected?
As a member of the Watertown School Committee, I would focus on school building needs as we see a strain on available classroom space due to large housing development in the city. Additional space is required in certain elementary schools. At the high school level, we must address the need for a new high school since I have heard from a reliable source that the state is unwilling to put state taxpayer monies into the current building due to its small footprint.
In addition, curriculum and assessment with the MCAS test being challenged by PARC. It is felt by educators that these two assessment tools test different abilities.
Since only one elementary school ranks 3 ½ stars out of five and all of the other Watertown Schools have 3 stars out of 5. Of importance is discovering if apples to apples are being tested between districts since we have a large special needs population. Over the years we have done an excellent job in Special Education and have always included this cohort in our MCAS assessment.
Another important tool is use of the internet in order to bring to our high school students college and university level studies. We have Harvard, MIT, BC and BU in our backyard. so to speak and can easily partner with these institutions. Our students are better prepared and it also provides a savings to these institutions on remedial assistance to incoming students.
3) Despite having information on the website, and email blasts available from Notify Me, residents complain about not being informed about what’s going on in Watertown. How can the town connect more with residents and get out information about key projects, votes and more?
I would surmise that the website and email reaches about 25 to 30 percent of the population. It would appear that the addition of the Watertown Police Call System would reach everyone with a land line. I realize that many have abandoned landlines; however, this along with an improved website, email and Notify Me would reduce the number of uninformed or misinformed residents of Watertown regarding important projects and votes.
Other means of outreach could be accomplished through the tax and water/sewer bills so that it is one mailing. A notice was sent to all residents by this manner in the past.
We pay for a number of studies and since we allegedly are saving money by going paperless and not providing council attendees’ paper copies of the agenda or sub-committee reports, perhaps it would be appropriate to send out a small quarterly report to the community summarizing the calendar in their tax bills with the calendars of important events of each department.
These additional suggestion, while not all inclusive, would increase transparency in government as well as a better informed constituency.
4) Would you support a tax override or debt exclusion to raise taxes beyond the Prop. 2 1/2 limit? If so, what projects or areas would you want the override or exclusion to fund?
I would suggest and support low-interest bonding for our schools and additional senior and family housing. The city is triple A bond rated; however, if the need exceeds our bonding limits, I would support a tax override or debt exclusion.
5) What would you do to help seniors and others struggling to afford to live in Watertown?
There are 335 on the waiting list; thus, the wait is a year and a half. The only exception appears to be for emergency housing and only if an opening occurs, they will be placed at the top of the list. I believe that many of us are unaware that the Watertown Housing Authority pays a Payment in Lieu of Taxes. Consequently, the residents in our public housing are contributing toward the taxes.
Apparently, we are not going to find a party who wishes to lease the East and North Libraries. I would guess this is partially because of the deteriorating conditions of the buildings. I would have an architect look into the two buildings, see what is required to make them usable for Public Housing.
In addition, the town should determine what is being charged by the developers for the affordable units to ascertain whether they are truly affordable. I believe that we should define the affordable units to be no more than 150 percent of poverty. Likewise, I am in favor of increasing the number of affordable apartment’s requirement to 20 percent of all units.
6) The Residential Design Guideline process to change the zoning for Watertown’s residential neighborhoods recently began. What kinds of rules would you like to see include and which would you not want to see in the guidelines?
Even though the Residential Guidelines are being developed and will be used, I favor a moratorium on further development that has not already been approved. We must pay attention to working on our infrastructure for I fear that we cannot accommodate what we have in place. We discuss that development on one part of our community has an effect on every part of a four square mile area.
In addition, we must consider development in other neighboring cities and towns also affect us. This can be negative or positive, depending on our collaboration and joint planning efforts with adjoining communities.
7) What do you think will be the next big issue that is not yet on the town’s front burners?
The next major issue that may or may not be on the City’s front burner is the development conducted by Athena Health on the Arsenal on the Charles Property. Many neighbors who live close to the property are concerned that the City gave the project the go-ahead without fully considering the provisions of the deed.
Opiate use is already on the front burner and I fully support the efforts of the Health Department in collaboration with the Police Department to destigmatize use and implement effective treatment regimens.
8) Tell us about yourself, your family, your life and what qualities would make you a good Town Councilor.
I am married to Mary Younger and we have one son Michael who started first grade at the Browne School and continued public school attending the West and graduating from Watertown High. Our family has always been committed to public education. Both Mary and I are products of public schools in Colorado.
I grew up in Denver, Colo., and Graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in Sociology. Upon graduation, I was recruited by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which is one of the agencies of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and worked for the USPHS for twenty-five years.
I had assignments at the local, state and regional offices in Boston covering the six New England States and also in the Denver Regional Office. During this period I supervised Medical Doctors and Nurses.
We have been Watertown Residents and Taxpayers since 1967.
Entrepreneur, Private Sector, Burger King Franchisee for eighteen years.
- Experience – former President & School Committee Member of Watertown for 10 years.—Major moving force behind Additions & Renovations of Watertown’s prestigious Library.
- School Committee Member for 13 years; Chairman in 1992 negotiated with School Committee to establish Watertown’s First Senior Citizen’s Center.
- One of the Founding Fathers of the Watertown Education Foundation
- Corporator, Watertown Savings Bank
- Corporator, Mt. Auburn Hospital
- Former Secretary and Board Member Easter Seals of Massachusetts
- Lifetime Honorary Member, Watertown Firefighters IAFF 1347
- Former President of Rotary and Kiwanis of Watertown
- Honorary Member Watertown Sons of Italy
Find our more at http://www.democracy.com/clydeyounger/bio.aspx