Candidate for Councilor at Large, Ward 2
Campaign Website: http://susanalbright.org
Susan Albright grew up in Newton and returned to raise a family. She and her sons attended Newton Schools. Her company, M:ed:Integrate provides health sciences software to medical schools around the world. She served Newton on the School Committee and now City Council, Chair of Zoning and Planning.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Discuss an experience where you made a decision that you now regret.
In my first term, I was among a very small number of aldermen who voted against a CanDo Affordable Housing Project in Upper Falls. Most of my colleagues voted for it. I decided to educate myself on why folks voted for this project. I learned about the severe need for affordable housing, I learned what it meant to create a walkable environment; I learned what density means and when density is the right way to go.
Question 2: Do you support the proposal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in Newton by 2050? Why or why not?
I support the proposal to bring Newton to Carbon Neutral by 2050. The lions share of the greenhouse gas emissions are caused by our homes, cars, and businesses. We must build incentives for residents to trade up to electric cars and electrify our homes and businesses. The city must provide more charging stations. We must encourage and incentivize our business to subsidize T passes for their employees. We need to create walkable villages which also has the benefit of keeping our village shops and restaurants strong. This will not be easy but the goal and the outcome are essential.
Question 3: What is your opinion of the current development proposals such as the Northland and Riverside projects?
Some projects are before the Council's Land Use Committee and therefore inappropriate to speak about until the hearing is closed. In general, we must both increase housing and commerce and preserve our beautiful neighborhoods by channeling growth to appropriate areas with proper planning. Newton cannot maintain strong schools and services without growing our tax base. Creating housing close to jobs must be part of our solutions to mitigate climate change. Our inclusionary zoning ordinance will increase affordable housing. The Council must be strong in its negotiations with developers to assure that Newton benefits from any special permit.
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?
Webster Woods must be purchased with Community Preservation funds. The state will sell the Armory to us for $1 if we provide affordable housing. Will we find a developer willing to partner with us? Can that building be renovated to make it appropriate for housing? These questions need to be answered. I believe we need a public conversation about whether or not our Newton expectations exceed our revenue. Our employees deserve a fair raise and wage, the seniors in Newton need a new senior center, our kids need the best education. The question becomes how can we meet the greatest needs with the budget we have and maintain the Newton we love.