Meet the 3 candidates running for 1 spot on the Board of Selectmen for a 6 month term. Last night they introduced themselves and participated in a public question and answer session. Those questions were different from the ones below. You can watch it here. Before any Town election, Sustainable Wellesley asks all Town Board candidates questions and this special election is no exception.
NOTES ABOUT VOTING:
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.
The 4 questions that Sustainable Wellesley asked are below as well as their responses listed in alphabetical order.
1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?
Like many people, I have become more and more concerned about the environment and want to take concrete steps in my own life to live more sustainably. Luckily, I met the leaders of Sustainable Wellesley very early in the formation of the organization and have been supporting their efforts ever since. In 2018 I became the treasurer for Sustainable Wellesley and still hold that position today. As treasurer of Sprague PTO (2010-12), I helped build budgets supporting many green schools initiatives including the purchase of coffee mugs for use at PTO meetings to reduce waste, the establishment of the Sprague Garden, the installation of permanent playground shade structure and tree planting. While treasurer of the Central Council of PTOs (2011-2015), I helped get the word out through all PTO treasurers in town to participate in the incredibly successful “Power to Choose” campaign. As co-president at WHS PTSO (2018-19) I encouraged committees to use sustainable resources available fromWellesley Green Schools including reusable banquet supplies. This spring I was involved in the working group to raise funds for and install a bike pump and rack station in partnership with Wellesley Police Department. In July 2019 I worked closely with Sustainable Wellesley leadership to help build a new website for the organization. At the most recent Annual Town Meeting I supported and spoke in favor of the Voluntary Renewable Energy Program motion.
The choices my family and I make in the daily management of our lives include a focus on sustainability. We chose to live in a central location in town so we could walk to our everyday activities. I walked or cycled to elementary school with my children. My son continues to walk to school almost every day and my daughter took public transportation to her middle/high school in Boston until graduating. We walk into town for the shops, the library, restaurants - everything. I mostly walk to the grocery store with my reusable bags! When we renovated our house in 2003, we took down one invasive tree and planted 50 arborvitaes even though our lot is very small (.06 acre). I have an arborist inspect our two large shade trees every year, our landscaper was happy to stop using a blower and to leave grass clippings on our lawn. We do not use pesticides or fertilizers on our lawn. I use soap nuts for a good deal of our laundry and woolen balls in our dryer. My political campaign uses biodegradable lawn signs. We have a hybrid vehicle and I recently downsized my minivan to a mini. We conducted a home energy audit several years ago, replaced old windows with more energy efficient ones, were evaluated for solar energy, signed up for the food waste program the day it was launched and, more recently, the “Shave the Peak” program. We have programmable thermostats set at levels recommended for sustainable living. We have reduced our meat consumption and increased vegetarian meals.
In our family life, the outdoors holds a very special place for us. Hiking is a favorite family activity, starting with weekend walks around lake Waban when our children were very young and continuing to this day. We have walked or run every town trail together and make hiking and walking a centerpiece of every vacation we take together. My son is an avid catch and release fisher, my husband and daughter are committed runners and frequent cyclists, I walk on town trails several times a week.
I am in my second term on Town meeting and this is my first time running for Town wide office so my track record is primarily limited to personal initiatives.
I feel passionate as a Parent and Grandparent that we must leave an environment that is safe, healthy, and clean for our children and all future generations.
I participate in Wellesley’s “power to choose” program and re-cycling. I am fortunate to have a late model car that automatically shuts off at traffic lights and as soon as I open the door.
I eat organic (whenever possible)) and support TSA’s and locally sourced fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry and meat. Our health is the most precious thing we have and the number of toxins in the environment through everyday pesticides and even the seeming natural gas leaking methane and other toxins is very concerning.
Before I started my current business, I wrote for suburban newspapers all over the Metrowest. I was involved in covering an environmental lawsuit dumping chemicals into wetlands and river that impacted nearby wells and families’ health nearby. I interviewed those most affected by this and watched their struggle in the legal system. I saw first-hand how this affected people. This experience shaped my views of how much lack of concern for the health and safety of people could be impacted by companies, and even municipalities.
For the past 25 years, I have run my own business and have traveled all over the USA and spent a lot of time in California, Texas and had a second office in Chicago for 17 years. I have witnessed what unchecked growth and over development and building unchecked without regard for the long-term impact on the environment.
I have been to Houston many times, and the flooding that took place after the hurricane three years ago has been linked to building homes on flood plains and drainage lands. I am no expert on any of this, only observed this.
We are so fortunate in Wellesley to have a town that early (over 150 years ago) per historical accounts I read took seriously preserving the Town’s beauty, open space, and some degree of planning so every farm wasn’t turned into a tract house development.
First and foremost I work directly with empowering and building the independence and self-esteem of young women of all ages and all cultures. I'm a Black female Head Coach of the most diverse athletic program in Wellesley. Empowering women helps to transform individual lives, societies − and our business. Gender equality, economic development and environmental sustainability are powerful synergies.
At home and at work I teach the 5 R's: refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, recycle. Specifically as a chief purchaser of cheerleading supplies, I do my best to reduce packaging when possible or omit order all together if items can be reused or renewed. I use Reusable bags for shopping and projects. I use recycled paper and plant based paints and adornments for Spirit signs and seasonal events. I influence my teams to recycle our waste properly and to reduce the waste we have. I do not drive so my mode of transportation is usually biking or walking to the high school from my home. When necessary I utilize ride share companies and or carpooling. I encourage others in my groups to consolidate rides in order to save on emissions.
As a resident at Barton Road, I've participated in annual Neighborhood Clean Up Day but everyday I make efforts to keep the grounds near my unit clear of debris. Pride in my yard is one of my passions, so I enjoy keeping a garden and looking out for the animals that share my neighborhood. I recently played adopted mother to a nest of Robin eggs and last year I attempted to save a Mother Turtle's eggs she left behind. I believe that I have a nurturing aura and the wildlife of Wellesley always feel very comfortable in my yard.
I am a regular user of the Wellesley Food Pantry where me and family have an opportunity to eat seasonally, locally, and add more plants to our diet.
Last year with the aid of a generous gift from the Wellesley Municipal Light Department, I switched every bulb at home to LED as well as added outlet energy efficiency plugs around my unit.
In 2011 I was attending MassBay Community College and I was an active member of MASSPIRG Students (Action for a Change). During my time in MASSPIRG I helped expand the following initiatives: Raising $200 for National Hunger Cleanup Day, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (collecting canned food goods), hosting panel of residents from Pine Street Inn to educate MassBay students on how they can help the hungry and homeless in their local communities.
2. How do you see sustainability and the climate crisis as factors in the development of policy for the Town of Wellesley?
The Board Of Selectmen (BOS) is the Town’s executive body and sets policy and strategic direction for the community. The Town can and should consider sustainability and the climate in every policy decision. Within our town government, the BOS can partner with the Sustainable Energy Committee and the Natural Resources Commission among other boards, in developing policies that include climate considerations. Wellesley is fortunate to have a real depth of community organizations interested in the environment and sustainability who join together and meet regularly through the Green Collaborative. The collaborative and its member organizations are a very effective way for the BOS to reach out to and get feedback from the community at large in developing policies.
Outside of the ten square miles of Wellesley is a big country and an even bigger world that may not share our commitment to the environment. I’ve been to China and seen the smoke from factories and the pollution in Beijing.
If we can bring awareness to the citizens of Wellesley we will be taking a big step forward. We can begin by making a difference where we are.
As a town, we already have a great recycling center, and the issues of food and dietary choices can be taught or presented in the schools and through the media and by creating special town initiatives to promote awareness.
Sustainability and energy efficiency will be a part of the building and development of our community. I feel Wellesley can act locally while thinking globally, as we all should. Policy makers are factoring in good health and well-being throughout development of policy.
We should want to use recycled materials or renewable resources when building. We want affordable and clean energy for our entire community. Businesses should receive incentives for their environmentally friendly products or practices. Citizens are being educated more about sustainability and rewarded for their actions to help the environment. Policy may shape the responsibility of individuals to do their share in reducing the carbon footprint in the world.
3. What specific initiatives related to the environment and sustainability should the Board of Selectmen undertake in the upcoming 6 month term?
The Town, through the Sustainable Energy Committee (SEC), has been working toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The SEC uses a multi-pronged approach to achieve this goal, working in the building, waste, and transport sectors. The SEC has applied for a large grant to fund the development of a Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), and should hear in the fall whether or not the application has been successful. In this plan the Town will set new goals aligning with the State’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The BOS has a significant role in supporting the work of the SEC in developing and implementing the CARP, including facilitation of discussions among boards, building consensus, and communicating to our community at large.
The BOS, working in partnership with the Board of Health, Planning Board, Natural Resources Commission, and Wetlands Protection Committee, completed the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program in order to be able to apply for MVP grants to help the Town plan for climate change. Wellesley has already received a grant through this program to complete a planning process and has identified and prioritized action steps to improve resiliency. Again the BOS has a significant role in supporting this work, in particular action point no 1: “Develop and implement an emergency preparedness campaign with a robust communication plan” which will be championed by the Selectmen's communications staff.
The BOS has been working to build consensus on a resolution encouraging all town boards to consider the impact of climate change a priority in decision making. This resolution would lay the groundwork for the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP) mentioned above. Bringing this resolution to Town Meeting in the fall gives the Town Meeting Members an opportunity to discuss the resolution and ask Town Boards to focus attention on this as a priority.
I believe it begins with education and awareness. We must do what is possible to make citizens aware that environmental issues are much broader than just green space and electric cars.
Many people who are health conscious may not even be aware that eating more plant based foods is helping the environment. They may think that one person cannot make a difference in any climate crisis but every person makes a difference. We should encourage everyone to take personal responsibility for the future of our environment no matter how busy they may be.
If I was a member of the Board of Selectmen, I would be undecided at this point until I had all the information regarding a specific initiative and it's direct impact. I will say I am excited about several initiatives related to the environment and sustainability. To list a few, The WMLP Solar Rebate Program and Home Energy seminars for senior citizens. More people are restricted inside their homes due to the covid-19 situation. I would also be excited about the Wellesley Housing Authority collaborating with WMLP to develop a plan to bring residents into the conversations of energy efficiency and energy reduction. Saving money and energy should be a town wide issue.
I also feel maintaining facilities that have been closed should make us look into the emissions and resources and what the impact of COVID has done on long term care of the environment.
4. The Town has a number of major capital projects planned for the next few years. How do you envision sustainability playing a role in these projects as they move forward?
Sustainability is a critical element of capital projects and has been given a high profile in the feasibility studies of both Hunnewell and the Hardy/Upham MSBA project. The most recent School Building Committee meeting focused almost exclusively on sustainability factors including Energy Use Intensity (EUI), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, impact to natural habitat and more. Both new elementary schools will be “Net Zero Ready”. This reflects a desire by town leadership and residents to integrate sustainability into capital development now and on an ongoing basis. The major school building projects, including systems renovations at the middle school, will significantly reduce our energy use and will contribute towards the Town's goal of reducing our carbon footprint.
With the financial implications of COVID 19, building of a town hall annex is on hold for now, but I would support the same commitment to incorporating sustainability into building an annex should that come to pass in the future.
We should have LEED certified buildings whenever possible. Perhaps even look at cost of retrofitting existing buildings through a study. I would look more closely at what the other boards such as Natural Resources, Trails, Wetlands and Recycling and Disposal are recommending to Selectman. I would want to work to balance the desire to have sustainability with the type of project, and its costs and the concerns of current citizens.
Realizing that even before the pandemic, our school and municipal budgets more than doubled since 2013, I would envision the planning process will include looking at the 3 pillars of Sustainability: ECONOMIC, ENVIRONMENTAL, and SOCIAL impact. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet, and profits. In that order I would predict that the Town will gather research that supports safety to students and workers as well as developing and building without destroying the ecosystem or harming the environment. I've made myself familiar with the talk around various projects like the roofs of the Library and specific schools, Annex, the Town Hall interior, the HHU Elementary schools, the Middle School projects, the High School safety projects,Field house, DPW and more. Those major projects along with the Facilities Management Department, athe planning board, and the Board of Selectmen, work collaboratively appreciating each departments uniqueness with a joint desire to ensure Sustainability and energy efficiency are at the forefront of all capital project operations and practices.