2019 Board of Selectmen Candidate Responses

The Board of Selectmen serves as the chief executive board of the Town, and as such, oversees all matters affecting the interest and welfare of the community. The Board exercises the authority vested in the Town not specifically assigned by law to any other board or office.

1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

Jenn Fallon

While my record certainly doesn’t match the one of my esteemed opponent, in my own way I continue to advocate and execute environmental sustainability on a daily basis. For instance, in our household we are consistent recyclers as well as working to raise environmentally aware children. We reinforce turning off lights when not in the room, reducing waste where possible, and having an overall understanding of the amazing beauty of our planet, and the essential stewardship we must offer for it to survive.

As PTO President at Sprague, I assisted Green Schools with their recycling initiative during lunch, thereby reducing bags of garbage as well as purchasing reusable clam shells for cold lunch. As an individual, I helped on the gas leak project in town.
I am particularly interested with the areas in which public health and sustainability intersect: lawn treatments, insect spraying, and turf fields and playgrounds. I’d like to see research done on all of these topics to ensure we keeping our residents and planet as safe as possible.

Lise Olney

Maintaining a healthy and habitable environment has been a driving force in my life and the focus of my work as an advocate and activist. I’ve served for five years as an elected member of the Wellesley Natural Resources Commission and I’ve been a member of the Sustainable Wellesley leadership team for 8 years. I was also co-leader of an interfaith coalition advocating at the state level for the transition to a clean and just energy future for Massachusetts.

On the Natural Resources Commission,
– I’m leading an ongoing initiative to address the persistent problem of gas leaks in Wellesley. This effort included organizing Sustainable Wellesley volunteers to tag 200 leaks around town and coordinating the NRC’s public forum on gas leaks. I’m now co-coordinating a multi-town effort to open a dialogue with National Grid to try to accelerate progress on leak repair.
– I’ve represented the NRC at the State House, testifying on proposed legislation concerning pesticides and plastics.
– I was a leader in the partnership between the NRC, the Town of Wellesley Sustainable Energy Committee, and the Department of Public Works which launched the WasteWise Wellesley campaign to reduce, reuse, and recycle — an effort to save money, reduce litter, and further our town’s commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
– I led the successful initiative to pass a town bag bylaw to reduce plastic litter and encourage residents to switch to environmentally friendly reusable bags.

– I initiated the NRC’s recent Grow Green Wellesley campaign to promote eco-landscaping and reduce pesticide use in cooperation with the Board of Health and Sustainable Wellesley.

2. How do you see sustainability and climate change as factors in the development of policy for the Town of Wellesley?

Jenn Fallon

I believe that sustainability and climate change should be considered as part of all town initiatives, but they will need to be evaluated and prioritized like all other facets like budget, staffing, etc.

Lise Olney

Sustainability and climate change are essential factors in our planning for Wellesley’s future. The town has made progress in mitigating our climate impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions — and much more progress is needed. In addition to mitigation, we also need to work on building resilience as the effects of climate change unfold around us. Our highly democratic form of town government includes many entities with relevant authority and it will take a well-coordinated effort to bring about more ambitious progress on both climate mitigation and resilience.
Sustainability is really an approach that applies to everything we do in town government: valuing and conserving our limited resources, making sure our decisions address current needs while also considering the implications for next generations, and educating ourselves and preparing our town for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Factoring in sustainability often brings about cost savings and other benefits to the town. For example, the Municipal Light Plant estimates that its LED streetlight conversion will save taxpayers more that $100,000 per year, as well as reducing electricity use by 1,025,959 kilowatt hours (equivalent to taking 152 passenger cars off the road). On the NRC, we’ve partnered with the Department of Health on efforts to reduce pesticide use and promote eco-friendly landscaping — which benefits both environmental health and human health.

 

3. What specific initiatives related to the environment and sustainability should the Board of Selectmen undertake in your next term?

Jenn Fallon

As the most experienced in this area, I would look to the NRC and Sustainable Wellesley to guide the Selectman in pursuing the most relevant environmental and sustainability issues.

Lise Olney

The Town should take advantage of the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program. This program encourages cities and towns to prepare for climate change, providing funding for vulnerability assessments and action-oriented resiliency plans. The Selectmen would need coordinate with the Planning Board and others to determine how best to approach this effort.
I would also like to explore whether the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program could provide support for the development of a Climate Action Plan for the town that would include not only planning for resilience but also climate mitigation through reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions. Such an undertaking would involve engaging town residents and coordinating with the town’s Sustainable Energy Committee, the Municipal Light Plant, and many other town entities. The town has already made some great strides in reducing energy use and much more progress is necessary.

Given that the Board of Selectmen is responsible for making appointments to several important town committees, what will you do to ensure that at least some members of these committees will advocate for an environmental perspective on issues under consideration?

Jenn Fallon

Board appointments are among the most crucial duties of the BOS that they must be made by fully understanding a person’s qualifications and the needs and responsibilities of the board to which the appointment is being made. Having a well-rounded board is critical so that all points of view are considered; sustainability and a focus on climate changeis of utmost importance to Wellesley and the larger world, and thus potential appointees would be vetted according to these viewpoints.

Lise Olney

Recruiting Wellesley residents to serve on boards and committees has been one of my responsibilities as a member of the Natural Resources Commission. Wellesley is fortunate to have many residents who are interested in sustainability and the environment, and who are willing to generously volunteer their time by serving the town. I’m confident that we will be able to find residents who are able to represent an environmental perspective on the committees appointed by the Selectmen — many already do.

 

All 2019 Candidate Responses