For 9 years I worked at local nonprofit Community Giving Tree, providing low-income children with clothing & cribs. For 13 years I oversaw a summer program for children. I co-founded Masconomet Education Fdn, raising funds for STEM labs in the public school. When I learned about sewage overflows in the Merrimack River, I wanted to help solve that problem, so I joined the board of the Merrimack River Watershed Council, and became Interim Director in 2019. I am also on the Board of Boxford COA.
First priority is Covid recovery, including access to healthcare, rebuilding our economy, and supporting public education. It also means protecting our seniors.
My next priority is the environment. This means stopping pollution in the Merrimack River and protecting Plum Island from climate change. Statewide, we must protect our clean air and clean water by reducing carbon emissions, promoting clean energy, and supporting green jobs.
Balancing the budget will be an enormous challenge, and must be approached both ways: by increasing revenues and decreasing expenses. One way to increase revenues is the Fair Share Amendment, which would increase the tax rate on those making more than $1 million per year. As for decreasing expenses, legislators must take a hard look at which programs will need to be adjusted due to financial realities; any decision-making must look at ways to minimize the impact on services and local aid.
The housing crisis has been ignored for too long. Instead of relying on 40b, which passively allows builders to identify random tracts of land with only 25% of housing designated as affordable, the state should actively create a plan that works for everyone. Identify areas close to transportation and other services. Join in private-public partnerships with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to create housing on those properties. Make a much higher percentage of such housing affordable.
The first step is to improve public transportation: make it reliable, convert fuel-guzzling trains and buses to electric. Bus routes should be added and timed to coordinate with the train schedule. Funding can come in federal grants, or in bonds. Once a reliable transportation system is in place, we can offset the costs by applying carbon pricing to carbon-emitting vehicles, so that it is more affordable, and environmentally friendly, to take public transportation.
I have over thirty years of small business experience having worked in the construction industry and in real estate. The construction company specialized in underground utilities which has proven useful in working on ways to improve safety following the natural gas explosions that occurred in Lawrence and Andover. It has also proved helpful in addressing the tens of thousands of natural gas leaks that are dangerous and harmful to the environment. I've created hundreds of jobs in the process.
My first priority will be to get businesses up and running again so that we can get our economy back on track. This will create jobs and help alleviate our terribly high unemployment rate. This in turn will return tax revenues to where they were before the pandemic hit. Secondly, I want to push for infrastructure improvements that will create jobs, reduce congestion, and reduce emissions. This should also include water & sewer upgrades that will protect drinking water and the Merrimack River.
The state budget is full of waste and inefficiencies that should be addressed immediately so that we can balance our budget without raising taxes or cutting funding for crucial services. For instance, we spend 3 to 4 times the national average for every mile of road and addressing this will free up money for where it's needed. We should also join neighboring states in legalizing sports betting and make it easier for businesses to operate and grow.
We should make it easier for property owners in our cities to convert old buildings into housing. Incentives for programs like 40R should be improved so that more housing is built in existing cities and near existing public transportation. This helps people live in places where cars are less needed, resulting in less traffic and congestion. This is better than 40B which allows inappropriate developments in small towns. More supply of housing will result in more affordable prices and rents.
Modernizing public transportation with newer subway cars, buses, etc. will improve it and get more people to use it. More usage will result in more revenues which can be put back into these improvements. We should also increase and improve public/private partnerships for things like advertising and food services in or near public transportation. Electrifying buses and trains will reduce emissions while improving living standards for those living in cities.