Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status, deserves access to adequate and appropriate healthcare. Individuals should not have to be forced to chose between healthcare and paying for food or rent. Nor should they be forced to rely on an already overworked hospital Emergency Departments to provide them with their primary care.
As a member of the City Council, I will work with the mayor to ensure that the Somervlle Hospital Emergency Department does not shut down, as well as increase access to urgent care centers, free and reduced cost health clinics for those without insurance or cannot afford to pay for healthcare, throughout Somerville. This is a problem cannot and will not be solved overnight or with only a small investment being made. However, with hardwork, dedication, and the support of the community we can and will accomplish this.
The ability to have a roof over your head and four walls surrounding you is a right and not a privilege that only a few should possess. Right now, in the Greater Boston area and Somerville in particular, there is a high demand for housing. This is causing housing prices and rents to skyrocket exponentially. It is driving residents who have lived here for decades out of Somervilley because they cannot afford to remain. It is also preventing many individuals that want to move to Somerville because they cannot afford it.
As a member of the City Council, I will work on this problem. It is a problem that cannot and will not be a “quick fix.” However, it is an achievable goal. In order to achieve this goal, I want to work with the City’s Affordable Housing Trust, Fair Housing Commission, and Office of Housing Stability to bring more affordable housing to Somerville. I will work with them to help bring in new residential developments, as well as ensure that there are enough affordable housing options that the residents of Somerville are not forced out by exorbitant rates, and so future residents can afford to move into Somerville without having to earn at least $85,000 a year.
To accomplish this goal, I will to push to increase the minimum number of affordable housing units in all new constructions by 2.5%. This does not seem like much. However, when you apply that to the over 500,000 new housing units that Somerville needs, a 2.5% increase would create over 12,500 new affordable housing opportunities. That right there is over 12,500 families that will be able to afford to stay or move to Somerville.
Climate change is threatening our communities and our health, and I agree with and support the Mayor’s efforts make Somerville a carbon neutral city. That is why I want to work towards making Somerville a green city and one that serves as an example for other communities not only in Massachusetts and the Northeast, but for the entire nation. It is important that we foster a green attitude not only in everything that the city does, but in what all Somervillians do.
This means, ensuring that our city buildings and all new buildings (including those that undergo major renovation) meet Passive House standards. I will also fight to ensure that all new residential buildings have trees on their lots and that any trees that are displaced or knocked down are replaced at a 1:1.5 ratio.
Improving Somerville also means ensuring that there are a larger number of safe bicycle and pedestrian pathways throughout the City as well increased public transportation options. We have a beautiful city with many attractions and everyone should be able to experience it and not the gridlock that we face now.
As someone who has grown up with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder), I know how hard it is for individuals with disAbilities. Not only must you work even harder to succeed, but access to wonderful programs are not always there. You also have to fight to convince people that you are able to succeed and do the many activities and opportunities that are available in the world. That is why I support the disAbled! We are just as able to do many things.
I have been fortunate to have a wonderful family that has always been there to support me and encourage me, as well as give me the proverbial “swift kick in the rear” when I needed it. However, I know that many are not so lucky. That is why as a City Councilor I want to work with not only my fellow disAbled Somervillians and the organizations that support them and fight on their behalf, but also with the Health Department, the Public Schools Department, and the Recreation Commission to ensure that everyone, regardless of any disAbility that they may or may not have, are able to fully participate and enjoy everything that Somerville has to offer.
As the son and grandson of an immigrants, and as a first generation American, I know how fortunate I am to have been born in the United States. I also know how hard it was for my paternal grandparents to move from Albania to the US and start over with my father and an aunt as small children. They worked hard to pull themselves up from having nothing to eventually raising my father and three aunts, owning their own home, and providing a loving family.
I have also seen the challenges that Hispanics have faced. My grandmother was born in Mexico and she too has had to work extremely hard to accomplish all that she has and to have raised my mother and my two aunts. She has also helped my mother and aunts raise my brothers, cousins, and I. When my grandfather, whose family has been here since the Spanish discovered the Americas, passed away at an early age, my grandmother worked extremely hard to provide her family with a strong family unit. She and my mother and aunts have all worked hard to succeed, and succeed they have.
Between the family stories on both sides of my family, I know how important immigrants are to this country. Not only economically, but socially and culturally as well. That is why I want to work hard for all Somervillians, including our large immigrant population, to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to thrive and succeed.
I am a proud member and supporter of the Bay State Stonewall Democrats!
With over twenty years of Public Safety, Public Health, and Emergency Management experience, I want to work with our Public Safety Departments, the Police and Fire Departments, to improve not only our public safety, but our quality of life as well.
Working with the Police Department
I want to work with Chief Fallon to create a Neighborhood Watch program that will compliment and support his Neighborhood Policing program. We all have a responsibility to look out for our fellow Somervillians. They are our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. We need to be a force multiplier for the Police Department. One way to do this is to create neighborhood watch programs in each of the many neighborhoods in the City. This will not only help unify the city and its neighborhoods, it will also help to reduce the quality of life crimes (i.e., bike thefts, car break-ins, vandalism, etc.) that are occurring. Together we can make our already safe city into an even safer and friendlier community.
Working with the Fire Department
I want to work with Chief Breen in providing quality service and protection to city and its residents. Part of that is ensuring that we have one of the best, if not the best, Emergency Medical Services in the City. To ensure this, I want to work the Chief to ensure that our EMS providers are not just meeting the minimum standards but exceeding them in response time, quality of care, and training.
I also want to work Chief Breen and his team to provide free or low-cost community CPR and first aid training to the residents of Somerville. This training can mean the difference in a member of your family or one of your friends or coworkers living and dying. As a paramedic with almost 20 years in the field, I know how important this is. I have seen both the benefits and consequences of offering or not offering this training.