Candidate for Board of Public Works

town of wellesley

There is one seat for a 3 year term on the Board of Public Works which oversees the Department of Public Works (DPW): Engineering, Park, Highway, Recycling & Disposal, Management Services, Water, and Sewer.

Jeff Wechsler
Candidate for Board of Public Works answers Sustainable Wellesley’s questions below.

What is your track record on sustainability, including any particular interests and experience with sustainable ideas and initiatives?

I try to infuse sustainability throughout my life, and look for pragmatic and cumulative ways to make a difference. Since joining the Environmental Club in high school during it’s inaugural year – I’ve done my best to recycle, reuse, and conserve. My home and my property are as chemical- and pesticide-free as possible. We love and frequently use the town recreation facilities and parks. We’re also Mass Audubon members, and enjoy the properties they protect and care for. I try to be sustainable in my food choices (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.) and choose local and/or organic as much as possible. I am currently involved in a business to streamline the supply chain for small share farmers and to help the good food economy compete with, as well as influence, industrial agriculture. I am extremely interested in alternative energy sources and believe they won’t be so “alternative” in a decade. I’m interested in reducing our carbon footprint and was fascinated and inspired when recently touring a zero-energy home in Newton (thanks, Sustainable Wellesley for telling me about it!). As a car geek, I love electric vehicles, and am excited about the future of transportation. And as someone that commuted on the MBTA for years, I’m excited to see what sustainable and clean mass transit solutions can replace the aging, unreliable, fume-spewing trains that run through our town.

But I know that I can do more, my family can do more, and our community can do more. I know that the choices we make today will directly impact the world that our future generations will inherit, and I want to do my part to make it better.

How do you see sustainability as a factor in the development of policy and strategic goals for the Board of Public Works, given the board’s oversight authority over both the Department of Public Works and the Municipal Light Plant?

One of the reasons I wanted to join the Board of Public Works is because I believe that the choices we make every day regarding our infrastructure have a direct and long-term impact on the environment and the world we live in. I believe sustainability should be an underlying consideration in as many public infrastructure policies and goals as possible. I believe that Wellesley is, and can continue to grow as, a leader in municipal management. Fortunately, we are increasingly seeing that sustainability can be good business. Which means it should become easier over time to balance sustainability goals with financial goals and constraints. I know there will be hard decisions, and people won’t always agree. But my hope is that if we  take a minute, and remember the long-term impact of decisions being made, sustainability will become almost second nature. Similar to how alternative energy will become “energy”, electric cars will become “cars,” zero energy homes will become “homes” and good food will just become “food.” I believe that sustainability goals should eventually become so commonplace they are just “goals”. I look forward to becoming a part of our community leadership and having the opportunity to help our town, our DPW and our MLP balance the demands of sustainability, safety, service, and cost.

What specific policies might the Board of Public Works undertake related to sustainability and environment?

First, an outreach and community involvement suggestion: I think we could as a community inspire our kids through increased exposure to the workings of the DPW and MLP. If our kids take an active interest in recycling, water conservation, maintaining our parks, taking care of our streets, etc. I’m pretty sure that would translate into more families becoming involved, informed, and invested in the policies that determine the sustainability of our town infrastructure.

As for policy, the Board of Public Works is a representative body and is well served when it has input from our town residents as well as the professionals that we trust to make everything work. I expect that superb ideas for our community are already out there, and I look forward to hearing them, studying them, and helping to make smart choices regarding those ideas. For example, I’ve recently heard of community members advocating for waste reduction through programs such as food composting at the RDF. I want to be methodical about getting to know the people we rely on to take care of our infrastructure, get to know our residents, get to know what is already in place, what is already in the works, what has already been considered and what has already been tried. I believe that as I learn from and stay connected to the community, I will be in a good position to help make good policy decisions. If you are a resident who has a policy suggestion or question, please let me, Board members, or the DPW and MLP staff know what it is!

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