Councilor At-Large Q&A: Daniel D’Amico

Daniel D’Amico is running for Town Councilor At-Large.

Tell people about your background — family, professional background, volunteering, government, activism — and how that will help you as a Town Councilor.

I am a lifelong Watertown resident and a first generation American. I have a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from UMass-Boston and am finishing a Master’s in Leadership and Project Management at Boston College. I have worked for almost ten years as an analyst in the insurance industry, including five as a state employee at the Division of Insurance. In 2017, I started my own business, Charles River Soccer Club.

All these experiences will impact how I govern. I plan to use my analytical knowledge to help improve the data collection process in local government. Currently, I work on establishing metrics to measure products that my company brings to market. Similar metrics should be implemented at the municipal level to ensure that we are measuring what we care about. Doing so will allow us to acknowledge our successes, identify potential problems, and develop solutions. I am an entrepreneur and have been coaching soccer for 15 years in Watertown. The soccer community is incredibly diverse and tight knit. Despite our differences, we come together and unite to achieve our goals. This “family” mentality will be essential for Watertown as our demographic changes. We must remember that we are all Watertown. We all call it our home and we must move forward together, united, to take on the challenges we are facing. The pandemic has created some trying and difficult times for residents and along with that for local government, and in other towns elected and hired officials have stepped down.

Why during these challenging times did you decide to run for office? And with a robust group of candidates running in 2021, why do you think Watertown has so many people stepping forward to serve?

I am running because I want to continue working to bring people in my community together. I have done this through 15 years as a soccer coach, and I want to continue to do so as Town Councilor. I believe I bring a unique set of skills (analytical, data background, project management) and experiences (first generation American, Latino, millennial) that are currently missing from the Council but that are important in our community.

It is great to see so many people stepping forward to serve Watertown. I believe there are so many of us running because Watertown is our home, and so many of us feel passionately about it. We may not agree 100% of the time, but like all residents, we all want what is best for our community.

Being a new town manager is difficult enough but following such a long-term and successful Town Manager will be a tough task. What do you look for in the new manager and how will you, as a councilor, help the new Town Manager get established and be successful?

I will look for three things when hiring a new Town Manager: 1) Someone who will continue the fiscal responsibility that has made Watertown the envy of neighboring cities; 2) someone who is forward thinking, technologically strong, and data-driven; and 3) somebody who is a uniter capable of bringing people together and understanding the different perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds that make Watertown great.

Do you think the voters should pass the changes to the Town Charter? Explain why you feel that way.

Yes. The Town Charter process included dozens of meetings that took place over the past 15 months. Many residents participated and the final changes were approved by the entire Town Council. It was a collaborative effort that involved a lot of hard work and community engagement. It looks to address issues such as accountability, transparency, and responsiveness, which many have cited as major concerns.

Police funding and the services provided by the Watertown Police have become a big topic of discussion. Should the funding be increased, decreased or is it just about right? And, would you like to see how the Police in Watertown operate (please explain your answer)?

I do not, and have not, supported defunding the police. As I stated in the budget hearing meeting where this topic was originally discussed, we need to work together to move forward. We should not be demonizing the police force, nor will we ever make progress if we refuse to question leaders and make it known that we expect that they strive for improvement. There is new legislation coming down from the state that our police department will have to abide by. We need to make sure that these new standards are properly implemented, that our officers are given the training needed, and that we work on bridging the divide that exists in our community through respectful and productive dialogue.

What issue in Watertown that might not be getting enough attention would you want to work on as a councilor, and how would you like the Town government to address the issue?

The importance of data collection and metrics when it comes to providing transparency and accountability in local government. If elected, I will use my data expertise to push for Watertown to have a process similar to Albany, Ore. On their website, they have an interactive budget where residents can see exactly how their tax dollars are being spent in an easy-to-read format. They also have four strategic plan goals, each of which has a dozen metrics to measure whether the town is reaching those goals. For example, one metric for their “Better Neighborhoods” goal is to have 100 percent of their streets be deemed ‘Fair’ condition. It is updated annually, and residents can go to the website and see if the government is meeting these goals. By doing so, they create transparency and accountability.

Watertown has taken a lot of steps to become more green and to address climate change. Do you think the Town has done enough, or would you like more to be done — if so what would you like to see?

Watertown has taken great strides to become greener, but more must be done. We are facing a global crisis that will have life altering repercussions for future generations. We are in the process of drafting a Climate and Energy Plan. We must be bold when setting our goals. We should not settle for goals that do not go far enough solely so we can say that we reached them. At the minimum, we should strive to reach the threshold set by the UN and scientists of reducing our emissions by 45 percent by the year 2030. There should also be targets for each goal in the plan so we can measure whether we are on pace to accomplish each goal.

What is something that people may not know about you that residents would find interesting?

I was raised in a trilingual household and when I started at the Cunniff School, I was in ESL classes until the third grade. My dad is from Italy and moved to Watertown in the ‘70s. My mother moved here in the ‘80s from Argentina. Should the Town Charter pass, the Town Council President would be required to give an annual State of the City address. It would be great to be able to supplement that with a Spanish version as our Latin population in town continues to grow.