Some of the hardest working people in the country live in Quincy, and they deserve a complete city. I want Quincy to have the cultural, intellectual, and functional amenities that even the smaller towns around Boston have. Yes, Quincy is full of character, and we can be tough and we can be rough, but we are also smart, creative, funny, and interesting.
Though Quincy is going through a revitalization, we forgot to include innovation. Luxury apartments and destination restaurants are good, but we can do more. I am going to talk about my hopes for Ward One and Quincy as a whole. I'm going to lay out areas I think the city should prioritize. The impact of these ideas are far beyond lifestyle and culture; each one of these ideas will have a positive effect on our local economy by keeping local dollars in Quincy and attracting outside consumers. This will lead to the need for services and products and that will lead to jobs. If we add local jobs an local spending we can increase government revenue with out raising or adding new taxes.
I won't pretend I can accomplish all of these goals, but I want you to get to see my vision for bringing a richer experience to our community. Some of my ideas include:
1. Maker Spaces. I am an administrator at MIT. My department has deployed dozens of fabrication laboratories, known as fab labs, around the world. Outside MIT, the fab lab phenomenon has spread to about 1,000 labs worldwide. These labs, along with other types of maker spaces (Artisans Asylum, Boston Makers, etc), allow their communities access to shared digital fabrication tools and guidance. Not only does this experience allow people to create, express, innovate, and invent, it is a vital tool in education. Just the process of creating something personal and unique gives the user knowledge of electronics, design, programming, carpentry, chemistry, etc. Once you learn how to create in a place like this your new skills and knowledge are solidified by mentoring the community members behind you. This phenomenon is going viral across the globe, as an integral part of modern STEM education, and Quincy should jump in to develop and embrace this. Our citizens should have access to 3d printers, laser cutters, and milling machines and we should do it now.
2. Arts and Science activities: I want Quincy to have bands, theaters, art galleries, concerts, etc. Although Boston is only a few miles away, we can have a local scene too. I want to support the creative people of Quincy and facilitate, in coordination with the Arts Council, an increase in cultural activities throughout the city. Science Fairs, Arts Fests, Community Theatre, Poetry Jams, Shakespeare in the Park...these are all enriching activities the city could help foster. I want it to be a reflection of Quincy as it is today, and see it influenced by the diverse backgrounds of our citizenry. As city councilor, I would support and facilitate private and/or public initiatives to cultivate a thriving culture of local arts and science.
3. Small Business Incubation I am so proud and excited that so many small businesses are doing well in Quincy. I believe every day should be like "small business Saturday" here. Small businesses give the neighborhoods unique character and superior service. If elected, I will do whatever I can to continue to make Quincy a good place to operate a business by helping to streamline requests and eliminate obsolete or needless regulations. I not only want to support the current small businesses but make fertile the ground for new and unique business concerns.
1. Let's fix this snow plan. Quincy spends a lot of money on snow removal services. I think it can be done better. When the schools are reopened after a storm, parents and kids should be confident that they will be able to traverse the sidewalks around a school without falling or gripping the chain link fence for dear life. I will call for a complete review of our snow plan, the bidding and procurement process for outside contractors, and move to hire a consultant from a place that has a better plan than ours to help us evaluate. I am not against us spending the money on this service, but all of our citizens, on small streets and big streets, should feel that they are getting their tax dollars' worth.
2. Broadband. Why is fiber not in Quincy? Is anyone else tired of begging Comcast for a decent deal on broadband? Not only do I think Quincy should be working to bring competition to Quincy, I think we should also think ahead and consider providing broadband to all, or at least subsidized for residents who can't afford it. Last Spring, Verizon announced they were finally going to bring Fios to Boston, but had no plans to wire surrounding towns. We as a city, both at a government and private level should be doing all we can to bring more options to Quincy. Access to the internet is no longer optional or luxurious. Fast, reliable internet has become a necessary utility like water, gas, and power.
3. Public Transportation. As a daily user of the MBTA, I know as well as anyone in Quincy that we are often treated like cattle by the service. Just recently the MBTA announced they will be upgrading all four MBTA stations in Quincy-- at the same time! It is vital that the mayor and city council make the MBTA abide by construction timelines and plans that work for the affected citizens in Quincy. We need to be the priority, not the MBTA cashflow problems. The city needs to ensure that the MBTA treats the riders from Quincy with more respect and openly communicate a timeline and plans. As city councilor, I would insist upon constant updates from the MBTA and I would communicate them directly to you. And though we can't expect all our new Redline cars until 2023, I would push for there to be more frequent and reliable service during rush hours.
4. Updating old systems. We recently saw a water main burst through the street. Many of our water lines are over a century old. While it's important that Quincy's development continue, we must not forget that our underlying systems need to be updated and maintained. We cannot put these projects aside while concentrating on new development. If elected, I would make sure the bones of the city are prioritized as much as our new attractions.
1. School support I am very proud that my children will attend Quincy Public Schools. Quincy ranks high among urban school districts with extremely low dropout rate and a graduation rate at 90%. My daughter attends Atherton Hough and I love the school and, more importantly, my daughter loves it. As a city council member I would have an open door for any educator in Quincy who would like to chat about any additional support needed to help them keep up the great work.
2. Sanctuary City. It is my opinion, as well as the opinion of many others, that Quincy should declare itself a 'sanctuary city' like many great cities in this country and around the world. A 'sanctuary city' simply means the police department will conduct business as usual--arrest people who break our laws but not act as immigration agents. According to census data, nearly 30% of Quincy is foreign born. With a rich tradition of hard-working immigrants, I think we should be on the right side of history here. Besides being the right thing to do, we want people to feel safe communicating and interacting with the police, whether as a victim, a witness, or a concerned citizen. This makes it a public safety issue for us all, we want everyone to feel safe calling for help. We do not want our great police force used to supplement the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
3. Police Department citizen advisory board. Our great police force has seen it's share of issues in recent years, including a shooting in Raynham, expensive HR and legal issues, a lieutenant accused of defrauding the city, and shift schedules that leave our officers overworked and without enough rest. I want our police force to stay safe and feel supported by the city, and our citizens deserve our officers to be at their best. I am suggesting a civilian advisory board, reporting to the mayor, city council, and police leadership, formed as an ombudsman style committee. This committee would be available to citizens and officers alike to take reports of problematic policies and behaviors, investigate situations where police leadership may have a conflict of interest, make recommendations and file independent reports.
Health and environment
1. Quincy Medical Center. I am not satisfied being the largest city in Massachusetts without a hospital. I am most definitely not satisfied with a satellite emergency room that can't handle trauma, high-risk labor, or other serious urgent injury. It is also never clear just how long we can count on this facility staying open. We are a city of nearly 100,00, bad things will happen from time to time. I want our citizens to have the comfort of knowing that on the worst day of their life, they or their loved one can be in a world-class ER in just a few moments. I don't want our first-responders to worry that if they are injured in the line of duty that they may or may not get to Boston or South Shore in time. We are a city, and we need to act like it. Cities have hospitals and emergency rooms. If elected, I would call for a feasibility study to upgrade the satellite ER to be able to handle more serious emergencies, and move to make it a permanent service to the community.
2. Environment and sustainability. I am firmly against the proposed compressor station in Weymouth. The governments and residents of Weymouth, Quincy, and Braintree have all come out against this project and the regulating agency and Spectra have so far disregarded these objections. The Fore River Residents against the Compressor Station has a great website up with lot of helpful information, suggestions, and contacts. It is a great one-stop guide to this situation. I am happy to see various members of the city council already supportive of this group and I suggest we all do more to raise awareness and resist this potentially dangerous threat to our environment.
I'm calling for a discussion on whether Quincy can join countries, states, and municipalities around the world and ban single-use plastic bags. Ward One is a coastal community and we should be leading this charge. They are horrible for the environment in general, and especially near the ocean and waterways.
I would also advocate to expand the rain barrel promotion and include other possible suppliers. I believe we should make these as affordable as possible to cut down on the use of our water supply for yard irrigation. Quincy should also facilitate connections between home-owners and installers. I would also support having events where local artisans can show residents how to make their own rain barrels. These DIY barrels are customized by the owners to complement residence aesthetic and allow for variety and improved landscape.
Recently, Quincy has acted to remediate lead contamination in local schools. Quincy is not a young city, and this is a reality we need to deal with aggressively. To that end, I would also propose free lead test kits for all homeowners and land lords so that citizens can self-report possible lead contamination. From there, the city can follow up and find out where lead is suspected to be leaking into the water supply. If the lead is being introduced after the water enters the house, homeowners will be advised to contact a plumber for remediation. If the lead is being introduced before it reaches the property, the city will work to replace the necessary lines.
3. Waste-not. I would propose legislation that would make it illegal for large retail concerns in Quincy to throw out large quantitiies of usable merchandise. This is an obscene practice that takes place all over the country and it should not be allowed in Quincy. There is at least one large retailer in Quincy, that I know of, which routinely throws unopened, unused, product into their trash compactor if it does not sell. These items should be donated to pre-approved charities like Habitat for Humanity, Father Bill's, Quincy Schools, Community Centers, or other women's or homeless shelters and the retailers should be given tax considerations in return.