My philosophy: One of my most deeply held beliefs is that our City government should work towards making Somerville a community that fosters the involvement and interaction of its residents in schools, and in civic and social life, so that they feel empowered with a meaningful ability to influence elected officials on issues that impact them. The following items are a few of the examples of how I implemented my philosophy during my service in office.
ASSEMBLY SQUARE – Today, everyone in Somerville is talking about development at Assembly Square and how it will create jobs and millions in tax revenue. It always wasn’t that way. Back in 1998, Assembly Square was slated for strip mall type development that would have created few jobs and little tax revenue. Bill was opposed to this and at his very first meeting as an Alderman, Bill introduced legislation that led to the comprehensive development plans for Assembly Square. At that time, no one had spoken about the need for a T Stop at Assembly Square to make it an attractive area for people to live in and work in. When Bill called for the City to work to obtain a T Stop at Assembly Square, people said he was crazy. Bill worked with residents and two mayoral administrations toward this goal. Well, we’ve come a long way and the T stop is in operation. Today, we have a waterfront park that all residents can enjoy along the Mystic River. Construction is ongoing and by next spring, we should see the completion of 400 housing units with retail stores on the first floor and a movie theater complex. An office building is in the beginning stages of construction. And, once the T Stop is open, we all should see Assembly Square blossom, as Bill said it would 13 years ago!
RESIDENTIAL TAX BREAK-Before Bill’s election, Somerville resident homeowners received a 17% reduction in their tax bill. Many residents complained about increasing taxes and a fear that they would have to move out of the City because they could no longer afford it. Bill authored the legislation that increased this residential exemption to 30%, making Somerville the first city in Massachusetts to offer this break to residential homeowners. This tax break has saved Somerville homeowners thousands of dollars over the last few years. Last year, Bill again proposed that the residential exemption be increased to 35%. With the support of the Mayor and state delegation, the state approved this additional increase in the residential exemption. And many people have said that if it weren’t for this benefit, they would have been forced to sell their homes years ago.
HELPING SENIORS-Bill introduced legislation calling for the City’s creation of the “Are You OK” program in which seniors are telephoned daily at a set time. If there is no answer after a number of attempts, a person goes to the senior’s residence to investigate. Bill also sponsored a home rule petition calling for the creation of “Senior Safety Zones” in which special traffic and safety laws are applied to areas surrounding senior housing buildings.