District A Councilor Candidate Q&A: Bob Erickson

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Bob Erickson, candidate for District A Town Councilor.

Bob Erickson, candidate for District A Town Councilor.

Bob Erickson is running for District A Town Councilor in the Nov. 3 election.

Watertown News asked candidates a series of questions.

1) What is the biggest issue for your district, and how would you seek to address it?

The biggest issue for District A is development and the attendant concerns about traffic, height of project and size, congestion, air pollution, parking, impact on daily living, future impact Watertown should seek to attract the best developers, as it is a very desirable community at this point, so it is very important to encourage development, however they must abide by the guidelines in the adopted Comprehensive Plan and the adopted Design Standards

I would support only development that is a good fit for the neighborhood and minimizes collateral issues which would negatively impact the quality of life.

I support the Comprehensive Plan and the Design Standards and encourage their being put into practice.

I would continue to attend all neighborhood focus groups on any local project and work hand in hand with neighbors in listening to their concerns and make developers aware of these concerns to successfully insert cogent, practical suggestions into the final development.

I would continually be available and respond to any and all neighborhood concerns regarding any construction project in District A.

2) 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?

Development of Town of Watertown Facebook and Twitter pages. Hold training sessions for residents on the use of the existing town website.

As the former Town of Watertown Webmaster, I want to be involved in advising the town on updating of the website. The website has now been in place for over 6 years, long past the average time for the industry standard to update websites.

Support the creation of a town-wide comprehensive calendar which incorporates all meetings of interest in Watertown and put it online I would encourage the Town Manager to direct all departments to keep current all their content and that all meetings, etc are posted on the website and e-mail, phone, regular mail as necessary may be used to insure the widest dissemination of information Watertown’s website developer CivicPlus states that any municipal website should “ carry on a conversation with its citizens ”. We need to remember that and remind all department managers of this.

Departments could create group e-mail lists to notify for meetings, etc. All town meetings should be posted on a centrally located paper-posted bulletin board in the Watertown Public Library for all to refer to, especially those without a computer or without internet access.

3) 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?

Yes, If there was a pressing need I would consider, after listening to pros and cons of any serious potential project. I would consider, as possible projects, a new high school, street paving, replacement of old sewer lines, and expansion of the Watertown Senior Center.

4) What would you do to help seniors and others struggling to afford to live in Watertown?

As a former Treasurer and Board of Directors member of the Marshall Home Fund, an organization dedicated to supporting Watertown citizens over the age of 55, I have a deep abiding interest in assisting senior citizens. I would support any and all ideas that would assist our seniors with a better quality of life.

Additionally, as the retired Watertown Veterans’ Service Officer, I had the honor of assisting many World War Two and Korean War veterans and their spouses in obtaining services through agencies/departments such as: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Mass Health, Watertown Housing Authority, Watertown Senior Center.

I would recommend expansion of the Senior Center to provide better services to our seniors to prevent isolation of senior citizens I would work to develop a centralized database of seniors to include address, phone, e-mail, closest relative, etc. Armed with this information, I would work with police/fire to periodically schedule wellness checks and keep them informed about meetings, benefits, where to go for help, etc.

I would hold periodic meetings at the Coolidge Apartments inviting seniors and multiple agencies to present information about benefits and encourage these agencies to do intake on those seniors with questions and follow-up.

5) 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?

Want to see:

  • Keep teardowns to a minimum if possible
  • No outrageous house paint colors
  • Limit on Height
  • Caution of any changes in the historical neighborhoods which is inappropriate to the neighborhood

Not want to see:

  • Avoid too much of “must do” as opposed to “suggestions”… residents may not appreciate the town government telling them what to do with their homes
  • Guidelines getting too specific, might be considered too intrusive
  • Implementation without considerable input from residents
  • Any rules which would have a wide-ranging negative impact on changing the character of any neighborhood

6) What do you think will be the next big issue that is not yet on the town’s front burners?

Increasing demographic of student population.

7) Tell us about yourself, your family, your life and what qualities would make you a good Town Councilor.

  • Born and raised in Watertown, attended Watertown schools
  • Retired United State Army veteran – teamwork was essential to insure success
  • Boston College business school graduate
  • Department Manager 15 years Town of Watertown – prepared fifteen budgets, Veterans’ Service
    Officer, Information Technology Department, Webmaster
  • Marshall Home Fund – former Treasurer and Board of Directors
  • Past member of the Big Brother Association
  • Professional
  • Dedicated
  • Good listener
  • Proactive supporter of any issue concerning District A
  • Team player – will work collaboratively with other Town Councilors for the best quality of life for all Watertown residents
  • Will listen to and support all small businesses in Coolidge Square and throughout District A

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