Each week, the Abington News is asking the three candidates for the board of selectmen a question to help voters better understand them as candidates. Election Day is Saturday, April 24.
This week’s question is: if elected, what goals do you have for yourself in your first term? What will you want voters to judge you on 3 years from now?
I think it is very important when running for office to set out, and communicate a clear, specific agenda. When I first ran for Board of Selectmen 3 years ago, I repeated three specific goals I had for my first term whenever I was asked this question. My answers were, 1) Help lower turnover within the Abington Police Department, and improve working conditions. 2) Improve communications from town hall to the residents, and working boards and committees, and 3) Make affordable housing specifically for the seniors in the community more available. The fact that so many residents trusted me with their vote tells me that these issues were the right ones to be focusing on.
During my first term we commissioned a workplace study done by an outside independent company (MRI) to dive into the workplace environment within the Police Department. Since that study has been done we have seen the turnover and morale of our officers improve dramatically. The town is now in the process of recruiting applicants for a new Police Chief, once appointed, I am confident that the Abington Police Department will only continue to improve, and once again become a destination for transferring trained and experienced Police Officers, and not the training ground for other departments it previously was.
To improve Town Hall communications, among other reasons, we made the difficult decision to not renew the Town Manager at the time’s contract and instead enter into a separation agreement. This decision was not made lightly to move on from a Manager who had six years of experience in the Town of Abington, but I felt it was best for the town as a whole. Since we hired our new Town Manager I have seen communication from town hall not only to the residents, but also to Boards and Committees in town improve exponentially. Boards and Committees have been given more say in the decisions made by the Management team.
Affordable senior housing is still a major issue within the Town of Abington. I wish I could say that after three years this issue has been resolved, but unfortunately as more and more residents in town become eligible for senior housing the demand will continue to grow. What we have done over the past three years to begin to try to alleviate the issue is form an Affordable Housing Trust, and an Affordable Housing Committee to oversee this trust. The purpose of this Committee will be to focus on what solutions we can come up with to help the issue at hand. We have requested from the upcoming State Budget a sum in the amount of $50,000 to hire a consultant to work with the Committee to find feasible solutions, including, but not limited to, possible public/private partnerships to possibly use buildings and or property already owned by the town, such as the former North and Center Schools. This is progress but we still are nowhere near where we need to be. This will remain a top priority moving forward.
These are the things that I believe voters would judge me on come election day.
For the next three years, should I be privileged enough to be reelected, my top priorities will be, 1) Budgeting, 2) Staffing, and 3) Affordable Housing. I outlined in the first question of the series how I would like to address these issues in the coming years. I look forward to being judged by our performance, and in the position three years from now to make my case for another term as a member of the Board of Selectmen.
The citizens’ voices need to be heard and as your next Selectman, I pledge to represent your voice on Gliniewicz Way. I am dedicated to achieving our goal for A Better Future, A Better Abington. As Selectman, I am committed to ensuring our town government is being fiscally responsible with the people’s money, while maintaining the level of services that our residents depend on. We need to keep the tax burden on our citizens as low as possible. I am determined to work alongside town management and our Finance Committee to make certain we maintain fair and balanced budgets.
As Selectmen, I will work to keep our town’s promises to our senior citizens and continue advocating for more affordable senior housing and funding for senior programs. Our senior citizens deserve to have the ability to stay and live in the town they have come to love. My devotion to supporting our Police, Fire and First Responders is unwavering. It will be a goal of mine as a Selectman to fight for the proper funding and resources our brave men and women need to keep our neighborhoods safe. We need to protect those who protect us. Public safety must be a priority for our community leaders and public safety will always be a top priority of mine as your next Selectman.
The strength of Abington’s economy will be essential to the stability of Abington’s town services and lowering the burden on taxpayers. When Abington’s businesses thrive, so does the town. As we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic economic recovery programs will be more important than ever before. Encouraging growth will be one of the areas I will focus on, as your Selectman. I will diligently work alongside town management, our state legislature representation, and our federal representation to bring in economic recovery programs to our Abington businesses. With steadfast leadership our economy can come back from the Covid-19 pandemic better than before and ready to grow in new and inventive ways. While applying for additional economic recovery programs and funds, I will devote a great deal of energy to promote our local businesses. Just as I have supported our businesses on the Board of Health, I will continue to advocate for our local eateries and businesses. Abington must be a business-friendly community.
Selecting a new Police Chief is going to be one of the primary concerns of the new board. Unfortunately, in the past the Abington Police Department has training officers, only to lose those officers to other towns. Abington losing police officers isn’t just a police department issue, it’s a fire department and public safety issue. Abington’s fire and police departments work hand and hand together on emergencies. I am open to hiring a new Chief from within the department or outside of it. I believe our police officers should have some input in the Police Chief search as well. Ultimately, our Town Manager, Scott Lambaise will make the final decision. However Scott Lambaise has stated that he values the input from the Board of Selectmen on the Police Chief search, and I will make it a mission to advocate for input from the officers.
For special projects, I am looking forward to collaborating with the Southfield Redevelopment Authority (Union Point) to establishment development in Abington’s land of the Tri-Town property. Abington zoned our portion of Union Point specifically for commercial business. Developing this land can help lower the tax burden on our citizens. As for the North and Center Schools, I will assist Town management and the School Department to map out a plan for those properties’ future. The longer we don’t do anything with those properties the more challenging the task of re-developing them will be. We have the potential to do great things with our North and Center School properties, so let’s get to work. As I served on the Board of Health, I will continue to advocate for programs, awareness, and acceptance for those struggling with substance abuse and mental health as your selectman. Abington is one town; one family and I will continue to champion for community programs for those that want help. Reaching out with a helping hand can save lives.
Communication is the key to successful governing. The more our governing bodies are transparent and open with public, the better informed and engaged people will be. As Selectman, I will continue to share essential information with our residents, seniors, students, first responders, businesses and town employees through town hall, public forums, and social media. As Selectman I will gladly host coffee hours and meetings at town hall for residents to discuss town issues, concerns, questions, suggestions, and or even to just say hello. I am determined to be your voice and my door will always be open for the great people of Abington.
I hope I will earn your vote on April 24th and your trust to be your voice at town hall. I look forward to meeting all our amazing residents and together achieving A Better Future, A Better Abington.
My goals for the first term begin with rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. Becoming educated and informed about current needs and future plans and projects. I will make it a point to introduce myself to all department heads, meet as many town employees and residents as possible, and to get acclimated with all the other boards and committees. I will be fully present and engaged.
High on the priority list, as I see it from a resident’s view, are:
1. Providing satisfactory or better levels of service, while maintaining a fair property tax rate,
2. Immediately addressing recent developments in the quality and capacity of town water through the ARJWW,
3. Investing in safety, including the hiring of a new police chief, while concurrently providing unwavering support to all police personnel. Supporting our fire fighters and first responders with an updated station that fits today’s varying needs, safety standards, and OSHA regulations.
4. Maintaining Abington’s hometown feel or Green Wave Pride as some may view it! I don’t want to see Abington become overdeveloped in terms of residence or business.
In three years I want the voters to judge me on my efforts and my decisions. I want them to think that all were made in the best interest of the community and the residents and not based on personal interests.