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Representing Ward 3 on the City Council has been the greatest honor I ever had. I feel fortunate to live in an extraordinary part of an extraordinary city and be able to work towards progress on behalf of my community.
Ward 3 is a diverse place, but I believe we are united by many common principles. After one term, I am more convinced than ever that positive change is possible when we work together.
Finally, while I try to bring optimism to this job, I believe the City Council can continue to do better. We must constantly try to improve, and I am including some ideas below that I would like to explore to help the Council better serve the public.
p.s. - Join me for my Campaign Kickoff on Tuesday, June 30th!
Progressive Utilities ReformWe should reform our water and sewer rates to make them more progressive and give low-income people a break. To do this, we can explore ideas like tiered fees to reward conservation as well as discounts for low-income seniors.
Modernizing Council RulesWe should revamp the Council's rules and committee system just as the Mayor has overhauled the executive branch. Among the changes I will put forward will be creating a new committee tasked with finding ways to work regionally and to propose more special legislation to the legislature that would benefit Northampton.
Our Local EconomyIt's time for a fresh look at our local economic challenges. We must take sensible steps like improving downtown parking, but also not shy away from big ideas. For example, we can explore a self-financing municipal broadband network, as Council President Dwight has suggested and other communities have done.
We must also strengthen our creative economy. I will work to ensure the new Center for the Arts enjoys a stronger partnership with the city, and look for new opportunities to allow the arts to prosper here.
AffordabilityThis is possibly our greatest challenge as a city. We need to take a serious look at the entire range of affordability. No single solution will emerge, but we cannot ignore the problem. Northampton loses something special when people are squeezed out because the city is unaffordable to those of modest means.
Our SchoolsThe mission of a public school is not just to sustain high test scores, but to help our kids grow intellectually and spiritually as human beings, and to inspire a love of learning that will support them throughout their lives.
To this end, I will continue to advocate for a progressive tax code that takes the burden off middle-income families and the poor, while funding our schools.
Revitalize Pleasant StreetPleasant Street is a vital gateway to downtown Northampton, and in many ways our second Main Street. It should be a central focus of economic and community development in Northampton. I will be an advocate for this effort at every step of the process.
Traffic andAs Chair of the Transportation and Parking Commission, I work with the Department of Public Works, Police Department and Planning to improve pedestrian safety in the City. A lot of work remains to be done, however. We need a comprehensive plan on this subject, specifically with regards to the gateways to our City such as on Bridge St, King St, and Pleasant St.
Environmental LeadershipI believe we can continue to make progress on issues of energy and sustainability in Northampton, despite the obstacles imposed on us by other levels of government.
Let's expand opportunities for solar energy, and explore ways to reduce waste. If we approach this challenge correctly, our efforts will also save residents money.
Dr. Melvin Hershkowitz
Madeline Weaver Blanchette
Megan Rubiner Zinn
|Council President Bill Dwight||Marilyn Richards|
Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra
I have proudly represented Ward 3 on the Northampton City Council since January 2014.
I was born in Springfield in 1980 and went to public schools in the Valley, graduating from UMass in 2002. My mother and father were married at St. Mary's Church and lived for a number of years on Isabella Street. When my parents separated, my mother Laurel moved to Amherst, where I grew up. My grandfather Jim Smith was a public school teacher in Holyoke for 25 years and lived in Easthampton with my grandmother Audrey who transcribed textbooks into braille for visually impaired students.
I genuinely believe in and value public service, and I think government has a responsibility to work in the public interest. In my professional life, I worked for many years with nonprofit organizations such as Common Cause on issues of campaign finance reform, ethics and government transparency. I continue to do that kind of work today as an independent consultant.
Before joining the City Council, I was a board member of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association and the Northampton Living Wage Coalition (now Living Wage Western Mass.) I live on Day Avenue.
Around Ward 3
|STAYING IN TOUCH - Made myself available to Ward 3 residents by phone, email and by going door to door. I also held many different issue forums and informal coffee hours.||
At one of a series of "Coffee with your Councilor" constituent meetings.
|OUR STREETS - Advocated for the repaving of Pomeroy Terrace and other streets in Ward 3. Worked with residents on issues from broken streetlights and drainage problems to new signage to improve traffic conditions.|
|LOCAL ISSUES - Intervened with Pan-Am Railways when it flouted anti-idling laws along North Street and worked to try and solve the problem.|
|CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM - Wrote a first of its kind ordinance to cut the amount of money in local politics in half.||
Speaking about campaign finance reform at City Hall.
|SICK TIME FOR WORKERS - I voted against pay raises for the City Council and the Mayor, but I also wrote an order that would make Northampton the first city in the Commonwealth to accept the state's new Earned Sick Time legislation for other municipal workers. The debate continues about how best to implement this change.|
|FOUGHT FRACKING PIPELINE - Wrote the first resolution in a Massachusetts city against a proposed fracked gas pipeline that would run through Western Mass, but do nothing to guarantee lower energy prices for residents.|
Affordability and Utilities
|STORMWATER FIXES - Amended the stormwater ordinance to stop unfair billing of some property owners and to take the burden off people with smaller properties.||
Local democracy in action!
|NEW HOUSING - Strengthened affordable housing standards in our zoning code. I also fought for the Valley CDC Lumber Yard project on lower Pleasant Street.|
ELECTRICITY - Testified before the State Department of Public Utilities to allow Northampton residents to opt into an electricity aggregation program to save money.
Traffic and Pedestrian Issues
|TRAFFIC CALMING - As Chair of the Transportation and Parking Commission, I worked on traffic calming and improving pedestrian safety citywide.||
At a public forum about Ward 3 infrastructure.
|ACCESSIBILITY - Toughened the fine for illegally parking in handicapped parking spaces.|
PUBLIC TRANSIT - Testified at a PVTA hearing for the expansion of bus service connecting downtown, the Senior Center and Walter Salvo House to the Survival Center, River Valley Market, and other destinations.
Please be in touch with any thoughts or concerns you may have!
The O'Donnell Campaign Committee
PO Box 1554
Northampton, MA 01061
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