Candidate for Councilor at Large, Ward 1
Campaign Website: http://alisonleary.com
Elected to the City Council in November 2013. Vice Chair of Public Facilities & member of Zoning & Planning Committee. Program manager with a social services agency and former Associate Director of the Community Preservation Coalition.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Discuss an experience where you made a decision that you now regret.
I regret voting to put a second question on the November 2018 ballot that would allow between two and four adult use marijuana stores. It would have been cleaner and more straightforward to have only the one question on the ballot which was to ban all adult-use marijuana stores in the city. I also don't believe that governments should necessarily be making the decisions on the number of Marijuana stores. Fewer stores limit consumer choices and make it impossible to spread out store locations. I am glad it did not pass.
Question 2: Do you support the proposal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in Newton by 2050? Why or why not?
Absolutely! At my core, I am an environmentalist and scientific evidence is mounting that the current rates of greenhouse gas emissions are leading to climate change impacts that if not addressed will have profound negative impacts. Recently, the Newton Citizen’s Commission on Energy released the Citizens Climate Action Plan, which is based on extensive quantitative research and analysis and sets targets over a 30 year time frame in order to meet aggressive climate goals. I will be using this document as a guide as we embark on zoning and building code reform and encourage development that meets high standards of efficiency.
Question 3: What is your opinion of the current development proposals such as the Northland and Riverside projects?
Both Riverside and Northland are underutilized asphalt parking lots that contribute to the heat island effect and stormwater runoff. These projects offer opportunities for economic development, more housing choices and critical environmental improvements. I believe they are important in meeting our climate action goals. I am following these projects closely and have been impressed with what has been presented so far. However, since these items are currently before the Council City Council and because we act in a quasi-judicial manner when deciding special permit/site plan approval petitions I will avoid commenting further on these proposals.
Question 4: There are a number of expenses that the City needs to grapple with: union contracts still being negotiated, tight school budgets, NewCAL (a new Senior Center), the acquisition of Webster Woods, possible rehabilitation of the Armory, etc. What are your priorities and why?
I am very aware of the budget constraints on the City. This includes OPEB and retirement obligations as well as a commitment to quality of life goals, including excellent schools, a new senior center and safer streets and sidewalks to name a few. Increasing our commercial tax base is critical to raising more revenue. It is important to foster responsible mixed use development but it must include a robust transportation demand management program to reduce traffic congestion by shifting transportation away from single occupant vehicles and prioritizing different modes of transportation, including walking, biking, transit and shuttle services.