Charles J. Chisholm Candidate for Ward 6 Alderman Responses 2015

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1) If elected, what steps will you take to keep residents in Ward 6 informed about the municipal decisions, issues, and proposed changes that affect them: legislation and budgetary matters, proposed development, decisions by City officials, issues that surface from the community, etc.

CC: I would like to continue the quarterly newsletter employed by the previous alderman. I am open to suggestions .

a) What steps, if any, should the City take -- and what steps will you take, if elected -- to provide access to information and services to Somerville residents who have limited English proficiency?

CC: On the question of access for those of limited English proficiency, I would need to research the issue.

2) What kinds of changes would you like to see in the nature and density of businesses and/or residences in Davis Square, and how should the City encourage those changes?

CC: Development should be acceptable to the neighborhood and projects like the initial one on Summer Street should not go forward.

a) What do you want to see at 240 Elm Street (the former Social Security Building)? What can you do as an elected official to make sure this building is stabilized and occupied by a business that people in the neighborhood will support and patronize?

CC: I would like to see a supermarket at that location (240 Elm). The City should threaten to declare it a public safety hazard and raze the building. Political influence should be curtailed when the public’s interest is at risk.

b) What is your vision for the West Branch Library and what will you do to ensure that the upcoming reconstruction happens and properly serves our community?

CC: I believe that any plan for that library should encompass handicapped access .

3) What kinds of changes, if any, would you like to see in the way Davis Square accommodates pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicular traffic?

CC: Vehicular traffic would be abated if the T were a free transit system, as could financially be feasible under the Fair Share amendment, if adopted. Visiting drivers are not aware of where the crosswalks are, because they are brick and not marked with neither white nor yellow paint, hence, they are dangerous for pedestrians.

4) What steps would you advocate that the City take to ensure that Somerville residents benefit from the employment opportunities created by development/construction projects that receive public funding support and the businesses that come to occupy those sites? What kinds of incentives will you advocate offering to other businesses that hire Somerville residents?

CC: Somerville residents should be hired, not by virtue of where they live but by the strength of their qualifications. I believe we should strive to have a satellite campus of Bunker Hill Community College built on the grounds of the current Foss Park to accommodate residents with six months to a year certificate programs so they can qualify for these positions.

5) If market forces alone shape residential development, we'll likely see a lot more high-end studios, one bedroom, and two bedroom units, that are too small and too expensive for Somerville families with middle-school-age or older children. If these families can't find affordable multi-bedroom housing, they will likely have to leave the city, adversely impacting community stability and our middle and high school systems. What steps will you advocate to ensure preservation and expansion of the supply of family-size housing that is affordable to low and middle-income households?

CC: I support increasing the participation of elderly citizens in the tax deferral program, I support reductions in tax obligations for owners who offer reasonable rents, and I will support any recommendations that would help alleviate to upward pressure on rents. As a tenant myself, I have seen my rent double in a short period of time. I can relate to the fright people feel when their ability to stay in their home is threatened.

6) What should the City do to capitalize on the benefits of the Green Line extension, and what should it do to avoid or mitigate the adverse impacts on Ward 6 and other neighborhoods that it passes through?

CC: The best way to maximize benefits is to make the system free. To mitigate the adverse effects of the trains passing, some sound barriers might be necessary .

7) What steps will you advocate to make Somerville an even more environment-friendly city? Your answer can address energy use, pollution, waste, water management, greenspaces, trees, etc.

CC: I think businesses which dump grease or oil into the sewer systems should be prosecuted, green spaces should be properly maintained and more trees should be planted.

8) What should the City do to reduce the number of drug overdoses by Somerville residents? What can the City do to address problem drinking?

CC: We should cooperate with Atty. General Maura Healey’s plan to address this issue and support the legislation she has proposed in this regard. Colleges like Tufts want to relax laws regarding student drinking in an effort to curb binge drinking. I think more effort to explain the health risks to students is necessary, as well as fire safety and street crossing prudence.

9) Why are you running for Alderman? What issues or concerned compelled you to run? What would you like to accomplish if elected?

CC: I am running for alderman to help ward six residents deal with our changing neighborhood and solve their individual problems. I believe that my independence from special interests campaign donations insures that neighborhood interests will prevail over developers’ or businesses’ profits.

10) What kind of political or community activism have you engaged in over the past few years?

CC: I have hosted fund raising for the LGBT Asylum Project for Ugandan refugees fleeing state sponsored violence against them and their families. I also have supported the DSCC in their efforts to unseat the Republican majority in the United States Senate..

11) What else about your candidacy makes you a logical choice for a progressive voter?

CC: My website traces my long history of fighting for civil rights in the freedom schools, of fighting for the LGBT community of which I am a proud member by creating gay-straight alliances across America, of fighting for labor rights as a union official and of fighting for decent schools. My record as a School Committee member and a Ward Alderman suggest that I not only believe in the principles of the progressive democrats, but I make those ideals into reality.