Meet the Candidates: Ward 3 Alderman

On September 11, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

The candidates for the primary election on September 24 for Alderman for Ward 3 were each asked four questions and invited to describe themselves and their vision for how best to serve their ward as Board of Alderman members. Their responses are presented here in alphabetical order, based on their last names.

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Suzanne W. Bremer

Question #1 – What do you see as the role of the Alderman representing their ward?

The role of the Ward Alderman is to see to it that city services are provided to the residents of the ward and their concerns addressed.  This is best done by listening, providing information, and leading the process that arrives at thoughtful, workable solutions to the issues confronting both the ward and the city.

Question #2 – What is your opinion on all the new construction developments across the city?

Future development must compliment the size, scale, look and feel of the existing neighborhood. Here in Ward 3 we’ve had a battle over the development of the site of the former Boys & Girls Club.  This is the first development proposed under the Commercial Corridor Development 55 feet (CCD 55) zoning designation passed by the Board of Aldermen last year.  The project pitted many of the residents who abut the property against the developer, the Somerville Community Corporation, and it wasn’t pretty – parking, traffic, green space, destiny – every urban ill was discussed in great detail, and with much passion.  The Board is wise to be revisiting the CCD 55 designation. Four-story (45 feet) tall buildings would be a better fit for the Union Square corridor.  I’m also concerned that the focus has been on residential and retail development, not on developing the commercial/reach and development space the city needs to expand the tax base.

Question #3 – What is the most pressing issue now facing your ward?

The most pressing issue facing Ward 3 is the development of Union Square and how it will impact the surrounding community.  We face a crucial period in our Ward, and we need to get it right.  The Green Line extension must create economic development without destroying communal ties, attract businesses that work for us while letting us work for them, and keep Somerville the home we know and love.  We must lead the charge on these changes, and not let the changes lead us. We need to make absolutely sure that we can safely cross the streets in Union Square, that our narrow, residential streets are not further clogged with traffic, that local businesses can still succeed and that housing remains affordable.

Question #4 – What is your opinion of the present administration and how it responds to residents’ concerns?

The current administration has taken Somerville to a new level of excellence in municipal management.  SomerSat, and ResiSat, data driven management systems allow City Hall to consistently focus resources where most needed. The Connect CTY mass notification and 311 – One Call to City Hall programs greatly facility communications between the city and residents.  The challenge now is to bring these innovations to the ward level – to use the office of the Ward Alderman as a clearinghouse for ward and neighborhood specific information and concerns.

Bio:

A librarian with degrees from Boston University and Simmons College, I began my career in a corporate setting, then started my own information technology business, was webmaster for the City of Newton and then directed a $1.5 million project at Tufts University.  Jane Peyrouse and I moved into our house in Union Square more than 20 years ago, and are proud to be raising our children in this dynamic, diverse neighborhood. In 2007, I ran for mayor.  The major plank in my platform was the city’s need for a long-range, comprehensive plan.  18 months after the election, the city undertook SomerVision, which created just such a plan. Recently, as president of the board, I successfully lead the Community Action Agency of Somerville through a major crisis.  Please visit my web site at www.SuzanneforSomerville.org.

Somerville is changing and it falls to us to lead this change.  For Somerville to be an even better place to live while keeping Somerville the place we love, we need a strong, independent voice at City Hall.  I want that voice to be our voice. I want our voice to determine the changes that are coming, and for our shared values of respect and fair play to shape Somerville’s future.

The best way forward is for us to go together. I’m a librarian, and as your Alderman, I’ll do what librarians always do – I’ll listen to your questions, understand your hopes and concerns and work with you to find answers to the challenges ahead. Together, we’ll build a better Somerville.

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Stephen A. Delani

Question #1 – What do you see as the role of the Alderman representing their ward?

I believe the primary role of any alderman is to represent the best interest of all its constituents. They need to be a voice in city government. The have to be one of the checks and balance between what is wanted and what is needed for their ward and for the city. They should oversea the spending of the city budget and try to reduce it annually and pass on the savings in lower property taxes for its residents.

Question #2 – What is your opinion on all the new construction developments across the city?

In the areas of Assembly row, I am in favor of this as long as it creates jobs and tax revenue for the city. I am concerned about overdeveloping residential areas. I have some concerns that the developers are not following or have received permission to bypass the Green space law. I also have issues when zoning has been changed. I believe there needs to be an oversight committee to ensure all laws are being adhered to. We need to be careful not to over develop neighborhoods; we need to protect the community.

Question #3 – What is the most pressing issue now facing your ward?

The most pressing issue in ward 3 right now is Health concerns regarding the drastic increase in rodents. I believe this has to become the primary focus of the health and DPW departments.

Question #4 – What is your opinion of the present administration and how it responds to residents’ concerns?

I believe the current administration is doing an overall good job in regards to residents’ concerns but there is always room to improve.

Bio:

I have been a resident since 1995 when I married my wonderful wife Virginia; my boys TJ & Nick are graduates of Somerville High. Virginia & I love this city so much that we bought our home in 2004. I have worked in retail since 1991; I have held numerous positions from a seasonal associate at Caldor many years ago to a local store manager of a national chain.  I have had many years of experience in running a multimillion dollar local business operation as well as balancing budgets. I believe that a city is like a business within the community and ought to be run like one, rather than routinely passing on its expenses to its residents and spending beyond its means.  As you can see, I am pro-Business, and will certainly support lower taxes and fees for Somerville residents. I believe the more prosperous businesses we encourage to locate in Somerville; this in turn will create more tax revenue for Somerville as well as bring more Jobs to this wonderful city.

The reason I am running again is exactly the same as I represented 2 years ago when I ran against Alderman Taylor.  I am not part of the current political process nor do I work for the city. That being said if I am elected, I will not rubber stamp anything.  I do not owe anyone any favors. Here is my commitment to you the voter: I will support those proposals which will benefit my ward, create Jobs and revenue for the City of Somerville and benefit you the voter.

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Matthew T. Desmond

Question #1 – What do you see as the role of the Alderman representing their ward?

Quite simply, it’s to represent the best interests of the residents.  When deciding how to vote on an issue, a ward alderman should ask themselves “What affect does this have on the people of my ward?  Does this put an unfair burden on them or benefit them in any way?”

Question #2 – What is your opinion on all the new construction developments across the city?

Each development project needs to be scrutinized on how it impacts the neighborhood it’s in.  In areas like Assembly Square, we can afford to be a bit more liberal with density.  In residential areas like Ward 3, we need to be more conservative.

Question #3 – What is the most pressing issue now facing your ward?

Unbridled development is the major concern in Ward 3.  There are a few developers grabbing every piece of real estate as soon as they become available, which causes a myriad of problems.  If these few developers get in favor with the ward alderman, the average guy doesn’t have a shot.

Question #4 – What is your opinion of the present administration and how it responds to residents’ concerns?

This administration has done a great job of moving Somerville forward, while still managing the city very efficiently.  However, I believe that it’s time to step back and be very careful about what our next steps are.  We need to make decisions based on lessons we’ve learned.

Bio:

My name is Matthew Desmond.  I live on Highland Avenue with my wife Kristen, and our one-year-old son, Thomas.  I’ve lived in Somerville for 34 of my 35 years, and in Ward 3 for 28 of those years.  I attended Somerville Public Schools and am a graduate of Somerville High School.  I have been giving back to Somerville for over 15 years, not only as the high school basketball and baseball coach, but as a volunteer coaching Little League, Pop Warner, and Youth Basketball; for the past 11 years as a volunteer for The Brian Higgins Foundation for special needs children, and for the last 3 years at the Somerville Youth Development and Boxing Club, as a tutor and mentor for our most at-risk children.

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Robert J. McWatters

Question #1 – What do you see as the role of the Alderman representing their ward?

I think that the most important role for an Alderman is constituent services for all of the residents of Ward three.  It is important to understand the issues, the impact the Ward and be able to effectively advocate on behalf of all the taxpayers and residents.  If I am elected I will represent and serve the entire Ward in an effective manner through leadership and hard work.

Question #2 – What is your opinion on all the new construction developments across the city?

I have no issue with Smart growth and transit orient development as long as it doesn’t adversely impact the neighborhoods.  Development that is purely speculative without proper neighborhood meetings and planning is something I would oppose.

Question #3 – What is the most pressing issue now facing your ward?

The biggest issue for Ward three and the City in my opinion is public safety with all fires erupting in the city.  There have been two fires in Ward three and the residents are very worried and nervous.  I am concerned about the safety of our fire fighters and residents who have been adversely impacted by fires and placed in harms way.

Question #4 – What is your opinion of the present administration and how it responds to residents’ concerns?

In my opinion the administration has done an effective job with addressing residents concerns.  However, there is always room for improvement but overall I think they have responded to the  issues in a timely manner.

Bio:

I am a life long resident of Somerville.  I attended Don Bosco Technical High School. I have a BA in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters degree in Public administration from Northeastern University.

Currently I am a Probation Officer in the Cambridge District Court and have been for 28 years. I also work part-time as the Clerk to Committees for the Board of Alderman and have for 18 years. I also serve as a member of the advisory panel for the Little Sisters of the poor and have for the last 12 years.

I am single and I have a 23 year old son who resides and works in New York City for Boston Consulting Group.

 

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