Cecilia Lenk seeks re-election for District B Town Councilor in the Nov. 3 election.
Watertown News asked the candidates a series of questions.
1) What is the biggest issue for your district, and how would you seek to address it?
The major issue in District B is large development projects and related issues of traffic congestion and public transportation. I work hard every day to find good ideas and feasible solutions. In fact, I am pleased to see other candidates voicing my ideas. I am proud of my efforts so far—mandated community meetings, Comprehensive Plan, Design Guidelines, updated zoning, Transportation Management Association. We put in place the groundwork to address these issues in the Comprehensive Plan. Let’s not keep that on the shelf! So many residents devoted many, many hours of their time to creating the Plan. Let’s use all that hard work and focus on the ideas and recommendations in the Plan for economic development, traffic, transportation, housing, and neighborhood preservation.
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?
Since joining the Council, I have been a strong advocate for better communications and increased use of technology. I was instrumental in getting the Council to increased use of email and to digital delivery of all documents. I am so glad other Councilors are recognizing we need to do more. Working together it will happen. We must completely redesign the website. But a new website is not enough. I want to explore hiring at least a part time Communications Manager with the skills to use the website, email, print, social media and whatever is needed to communicate with all residents. I am also part of a group of residents that has met regularly for over a year to find better processes and technologies to expand public participation and dialog on issues. It is critical for us as a community to engage many more residents. I am very interested in experimenting with a variety of technologies and find effective ways for residents to give input on issues.
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?
I will never support a tax override to cover operating costs. I would only support a debt exclusion for a very large capital project. Importantly, the voters of Watertown must vote on any proposal for a debt exclusion. They are the ultimate decision-makers. I strongly believe we must continue to manage the Town’s budget to have money for today and tomorrow—without increasing the tax burden on homeowners. I have served on the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Oversight Committee for six years and will continue to work to figure out how we can best pay for our many needs and stay within our budget. In fact, I have pledged to find a solution to the increasing tax burden that many homeowners tell me is impacting their quality of life.
4) What would you do to help seniors and others struggling to afford to live in Watertown?
I have pledged to find a solution to alleviate the increasing tax burden that many homeowners, including seniors, tell me is impacting their quality of life. I would also like the Council to consider the recommendations on affordable housing outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.
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?
I called for the Council to address the rising number of teardowns and changes caused by increased development in our residential neighborhoods The Residential Design Guidelines and any zoning changes that emerge will take time and must involve the input from residents from all neighborhoods, and include homeowners, renters, and residential property owners. I want both the Guidelines and zoning to emerge from community input and the expertise of our Planning Department and consultant, not just the Council.
6) What do you think will be the next big issue that is not yet on the town’s front burners?
A new high school and extensive upgrades to all school buildings.
7) Tell us about yourself, your family, your life and what qualities would make you a good Town Councilor.
A few fun facts about my truly wonderful life (in no particular order)
- Testified in front of a US Senate Committee on the need to expand the high speed Internet infrastructure.
- I have a large organic garden.
- Once gave a series of talks in Uzbekistan on the Internet.
- As a successful high-tech entrepreneur, have extensive financial expertise from years of managing corporate budgets exceeding $100 million.
- Once shared the stage at the National Academy of Sciences with Arthur C. Clarke.
- My family has three generations living in Watertown.
- On the Alumni Leadership Committee for the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering.
- I love to cook authentic, regional Mexican food and bake bread.
- Have received major grants on using the web for research and learning from National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and US Department of Education.
- My day job is Creative Strategist at FableVision Studios.