Medford City Council
Below are some of the frequently asked questions John has been asked.
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What aspects of your time in office are you most proud of? What goals have you accomplished?
I am proud of my accomplishments that supported new infrastructure, created transparency, and addressed our outdated zoning and traffic needs.
As your city councilor, I:
Have your positions on any issues evolved since your election?
I wouldn’t say that my position has evolved on affordable housing, but I have given this issue a much higher priority than when I was first elected. Like many parents, I wonder where my three young sons will live when they are on their own. If they choose to be in Medford, it could be a financial burden that they cannot shoulder. Now more than ever, with the spike in rents and real estate prices, the lack of affordable units limits not just our children and grandchildren but all those that would consider calling Medford home.
What social issues do you care about and why? How would you advocate for those issues?
When I think about the wide array of social issues that affect our community, I feel most concerned with ones that can have a negative impact on our most vulnerable populations- our senior citizens and children. Some of my concerns include rising housing costs, access to healthcare, education, equality, and the environment.
Fortunately, as a member of the Medford City Council, I have been able to advocate for such issues. Some of my accomplishments include:
What concrete steps can Medford make to address our environmental challenges whether global or local?
I am proud to say that I was the only city councilor to support Municipal Energy Aggregation when it was first presented. In addition, I led to the charge for the Plastic Bag Ordinance and have supported other energy sustaining initiatives. These include the use of solar power at the Andrews Middle School and LED streetlights throughout our community. As a daily commuter and supporter of public transit, I fought against a reduction of bus services that was recently imposed and, thankfully, reversed.
Additional steps should be taken to increase funding to grow Medford’s tree canopy and require developers to add green space to future developments.
Medford is a diverse city with many marginalized communities. What initiatives would you implement to support these communities?
I proposed and implemented a plan that brought the monthly Medford Police Department’s Community Service meetings directly to our neighborhoods. These new neighborhood meetings, which were previously held at police headquarters, cultivate engagement between residents and the Medford Police Department by providing an opportunity for citizens to meet the men and women who patrol their neighborhoods. This type of community engagement promotes collaboration, which is a key component for strong and vibrant neighborhoods and our community as a whole.
I am an advocate for the Gender Equity Ordinance that is currently before the City Council. Medford is fortunate to have many groups, like the Medford Family Network and the Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, that actively perform outreach to those in marginalized communities. Both as a member of the City Council and a community member, I have always supported efforts of such organizations both financially and through volunteering.
How will you address Medford’s affordable housing crisis?
I was the chair of the subcommittee that created Medford’s first Inclusionary Housing Ordinance that increased the required number of units that a developer must set aside as affordable units. While this is a concrete step, I feel that we need to do more. The creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which could provide financial support for rental, homeownership and mixed-use projects as well as housing for the disabled, is one idea that we need to pursue.
What are your long-term plans for expanding tax revenue?
The Chevalier Theater has been instrumental in revitalizing Medford Square. Meals tax receipts have increased significantly over the last year. I supported the funding, through the CPA, to pay for air conditioning of the Chevalier Theater. Air conditioning will allow the theater to remain open over the summer which will bring diners and visitors to the square year-round.
A complete zoning review by a zoning consultant may provide opportunities to provide new types of businesses in Medford which could expand the tax revenue. For example, a zoning change could allow a hotel in a section of the city that might not be currently zoned for such use. Additional businesses create jobs and revenue.
Would you implement any changes around our parking systems?
I am open to changes about our parking program. We need to balance the needs of our local retailers with the resources of the Medford Police Department along with what is fair and equitable to our residents. Medford is not alone in dealing with our parking issues. Our neighboring communities are dealing with this as well. The Chief of Police is reviewing a parking study that was performed in the South Medford and Hillside neighborhoods. Upon his recommendations, parking changes may be evaluated.
Some infrastructure challenges that face our city are degraded roads, lead pipes, and gas leaks. What initiatives would you implement to address these issues?
When I was on the School Committee, I proposed that the committee visit each school to better understand and prioritize what repairs and maintenance needed to be done. I propose that the DPW do the same regarding our streets and sidewalks so we can prioritize paving and sidewalk replacement needs. To be successful, the DPW needs additional employees and resources and I will continue to advocate for such.
The city should continue to work with National Grid to determine the age of our gas pipes and prioritize replacements, as needed. We should work with the water department to assess what water pipes need repair or replacement. We should also work with the MWRA to promote the Lead Service Line replacement program they offer.
What do you think should be done with the Malden hospital site?
Medford owns a small portion of land on the Malden Hospital site and has valid concerns about future development. Medford residents who abut the hospital worry that development will cause problems regarding traffic, noise, air pollution, and other quality of life issues. I would like to see the area used predominately for green space and a small senior living and/or assisted living community.
I started the Malden Hospital sub-committee so we can monitor developments regarding the hospital site. Over the past year, we have worked with the Malden City Council and the Friends of Fellsmere Heights voicing our concerns about protecting the integrity of the North Medford neighborhood.
Now that Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana, would you encourage dispensaries in Medford? What would you do with the revenue?
By law Medford is required to develop an ordinance regarding recreational marijuana which will include where dispensaries can be located. There has been a strong interest for dispensaries in Medford and we will follow state law regarding where they can be located. I would use revenue generated from marijuana sales for outreach and education to our children about the effects of marijuana.
What is your vision for promoting civic engagement and increasing voter turnout in our city?
Since the implementation of the 24/7 on demand access to government meetings began, I have heard from many residents who say they watch the meetings now that they are more accessible. I will also continue to advocate for the posting of all city council and school committee documents online so that they are more accessible to everyone.
Medford needs to do a better job advertising elections. This could be accomplished by “A” frame (sandwich board) signs in front of all polling locations and government buildings weeks before the election, as well as more social media outreach.
How can we increase citizen engagement in city council meetings?
As an elected official, I have always welcomed and encouraged residents to participate in City Council meetings. Not everyone can or wants to attend meetings, which is why I am accessible by phone, email or text so I can hear a resident’s concern and be his/her representative. Future rollout of additional capabilities of the legislative software will provide more information about happenings in city government which will hopefully spur more interest in City Council meetings.
What is your stand on city charter review?
Our City Charter has not been reviewed in over 30 years and I am a strong proponent of Charter Review. I voted in favor of Charter Review when it came before the City Council.