Q &A from the Campaign Trail

Since May, I have knocked on more than 6000 doors, attended community events, received countless Facebook messages, emails and phone calls. I thought I would address some top questions I get while talking to folks.

How does your past experience make you uniquely qualified to be Mayor of Framingham vs your opponents?

Framingham is my home. I have dedicated much of my adult life to Framingham as a teacher,  volunteer, father, coach, volunteer, selectman and state representative. And I have been studying, teaching, serving and working in and with public policy in municipal and state government for thirty years.

A proud graduate of Framingham Public Schools, I returned home after college to teach social studies and coach lacrosse at Framingham South High School. Framingham voters elected me five times as their State Representative and two terms as their Selectman. My decade in Framingham government was marked by collaboration, transparency and progress.  Working together, we created hundreds of acres of open space — including Cushing, Merchant, Victory and Roosevelt parks, Wittenborg Woods and National Lancers Center — increased our commercial tax base, improved core services, and constructed new schools and municipal buildings.  

I was an adjunct professor at Suffolk Law School. Today my legal practice focuses on real estate, government affairs and public administration.

I am a graduate of Framingham South High School, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the New England School of Law and Loyola University’s International Law Program in Rome.  

In your opinion, what are the 3 biggest issues facing Framingham in the next 5 years and how do you specifically propose to deal with them?

  1. Creating a strategic plan for our future: Strong healthy neighborhoods enrich our daily lives, enhance the overall well-being of our community, nurture our families and bring people together to share common ideals and interests.  

As mayor, I pledge to empower citizens to create a community wide vision for 2027 that will:

  • Review Our Current Practices:  Current zoning, planning, environmental, recreational and related bylaws and municipal practices will be analyzed to determine the strengths we have and the challenges we will meet as we go forward with the creation of Framingham 2027. We will draw upon the expertise of local and statewide experts to assess our strengths and challenges neighborhood by neighborhood and make recommendations for positive changes to our bylaws and municipal practices.
  • Ensure Our Neighborhood Integrity: Encourage Smart Growth economic development policies and strengthen the character, security, vitality and environmental integrity of each of our neighborhoods.
  • Enhance Our Quality of Life: Increase the quality and positive outcomes for our schools, respect and celebrate our diversity, and preserve open spaces and increase recreational opportunities.
  • Preserve Our Essential Services: We need to review government from top to bottom to ensure that we are providing services in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible, eliminating redundancies and waste wherever they exist.  We need to keep Framingham affordable, while maintaining the level of services we expect from our government.
  • Create a Sustainable Future: We must join other communities across the Commonwealth in realizing the economic potential of renewable policies. Cost savings from reduced energy consumption and greater reliance on sustainable energy can provide hundreds of thousands of dollars for other services. New sustainable policies will ensure that Framingham reduces its carbon footprint and its impact on taxpayer’s bottom line.

2. Improving our schools: As your mayor, I will do everything in my power to ensure that our schools are ready for our kids and our kids are ready for our schools.

As Mayor, I pledge to:

  • Provide early childhood education to every child by making high-quality universal pre-K available for all our families;
  • expand after-school learning opportunities for our students by partnering with local businesses and organizations to provide new financial resources, volunteer tutors and mentors, internships and sponsorships to provide after school enrichment to students of all ages;
  • grow available revenue to be used for our children in our schools: by filling our vacant shopping centers; stimulating growth in our commercial centers; and working to grow local businesses and commerce.

3. Addressing abandoned properties:  Our shopping centers should reflect the needs of its surrounding neighborhoods. We need to look at activities for all ages. We need to explore ways to connect our shopping centers to our open spaces, like downtown with Farm Pond and Nobscot Plaza with our working farms. We need to find solutions that not only bring Framingham revenue for our schools, public safety and public works programs, but ones that strengthen the character, security and vitality of our neighborhoods.  

I am committed to convening interested parties, listening to everyone’s ideas, building consensus on a strategic plan, and then rolling up my sleeves to secure the public and private resources to finally make these goals a reality.

The naysayers will say it cannot be done, but my experience in government and in the private sector says otherwise.  During my decade in Framingham government, when we needed more revenue for our schools and municipal services, we collaborated to get the long stalled 9/90 project done — generating jobs and tax revenue for Framingham.  

We need to believe in our collective knowledge and power to make these parcels productive once again for the neighborhoods they serve and our wider community.

With the city government being run by a small group compared to Town Meeting,  what are your plans to ensure that the voices of the public remain to be heard and there is a balance of power?

My pledge is that every segment of our community will be represented on our boards, commissions, committees and municipal positions. I will seek out the best from all corners of our community.

I will create Neighborhood Advisory Groups, a group of volunteer citizens who will work with their District Councilor, boards and commissions, and the Mayor to assure their neighborhood retains its unique characteristics and remains vital.  The preservation, protection and promotion of our neighborhoods is essential to a healthy, vibrant, and thriving Framingham.

My best ideas have come from walking our neighborhoods and listening to residents. I believe the best way to achieve our goals is by listening to one another and working as a team. My years of public service are filled with stories of bringing folks together to improve, invest and invigorate Framingham.

I spend every day walking around our neighborhoods and talking to residents. I answer emails, phone calls and meet with anyone who wishes to meet with me. I will continue to be this accessible as mayor. Constituent services are a top priority to me; we need to make sure our government is accessible and accountable to all. In order to have voices heard, it is important government is not only accessible, but transparent. That means posting all decisions online within a timely manner and publishing the entire budget in an interactive way so folks can see where their tax money is going.  As Mayor, I will also use technology, such as the website, app, social media, to bring the reach of government to people rather than people to government.

There is a constant struggle to have a unified identify in a city that is so large and diverse.  Please comment on what you plan to do to bring Framingham closer together, to increase the sense of community,  and to build a better sense of cohesion amongst the different parts of town.

We live in a great community.

Seeing the revitalized interest in our local government and elections makes me that much more excited for our future. As Mayor, I will work with all of you and our community, civic, religious and business leaders not only to have an annual parade and other community celebrations, but to foster neighborhood block parties and the like in every part of our diverse community. My wife Cecilia, my daughters, and I are all proud to call Framingham our home. There is so much energy and so many great ideas out there!

Please briefly describe how you have been an active, engaged citizen of Framingham up to this point, and how that prepares you to be a well qualified mayor.

During my time in government and since leaving government 17 years ago, I have continued to be an active member of our community: (partial list)

  • Framingham Heart Study (3rd cohort & trustee of Friends)
  • Framingham Lacrosse League (coach & board member)
  • Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (trustee)
  • UMass Club (founding member)
  • New England College of Optometry (corporator)
  • Framingham Democratic Town Committee (member)
  • Brazilian American Association (founding member)
  • Columbus Club (member)
  • Lodge of Elks (member)
  • Flag Day Parade Grande Marshal
  • Metro West Medical Center (Board of Trustees)
  • Framingham Boys & Girls Club (founder)
  • Cushing Hospital Task Force (Chair)

How do you measure your success at the end of your term?

My measure of success would be a Framingham where all of our diverse neighborhoods are vibrant, thriving and proudly displaying our values. A Framingham where you eagerly take friends to dinner in Downtown; consume produce grown at one of our local farms; celebrate and protect our diversity; embrace our local businesses; where everyone’s voice is represented and heard; where all of our students in our schools are reaching their full potential.

Would you appoint elected Councilors to one of Framingham’s boards, commissions and committees?

I have said repeatedly since the beginning of this campaign that I would support an ordinance that prohibits Councilors from serving on multi-member bodies (e.g., Planning and Zoning boards) and that I would not appoint any Councilors to such positions. I believe that our boards, commissions and committees should represent our geographic and demographic diversity, ensuring that all neighborhoods, viewpoints and ideas are heard.