What I want in a District 5 councilor

James, who is running for the District 5 Council seat, wanted to hear some of my concerns about the city.

Unfortunately for him, I’m not a typical voter.  But I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this subject in the hopes that other folks will share theirs.

I want someone who understands that District 5 includes Webster Square.  It also includes Mill Street.  It also includes James Street.  It includes Elm Park.  District 5 is big, and it’s more than Tatnuck and West Tatnuck.  District 5 desperately needs someone who represents all of us.

I want someone who feels that parks are non-negotiable.  Parts of District 5 are as urban as Worcester gets.  When parks like Hadwen Park are under threat of road development, we need someone who will be an advocate for the need for green space.  We need someone who understands that park land should never be the first choice — or any choice — when we build or expand schools.

District 5 is blessed with some great parks and woods, and we need someone who will advocate for them, not just when they are threatened by development, but when they are threatened by budget cuts.

I want someone who understands that the airport does not just affect West Tatnuck.  Shocking to some, there are residences, schools, and businesses south of the airport, and many of them would be affected by an access road.  No access road is currently on the table, but it seems like much of the time any discussions about airport impact only mention those who live to the north of the airport.

Speaking of south of the airport, there’s a high school in District 5 called South High School.  I’m sure Doherty needs repairs, as do many other schools.  But it’s a bit galling to continually hear a chorus of councilors requesting repairs for Doherty, and having a D5 councilor remain silent on the subject of South.

I want someone to tell me what the heck is going on at the former Price Chopper site on Mill Street.

We need someone who will advocate for a standard evaluation for the city manager.  We currently have a free-form evaluation of the city manager.  We need some more direction of his work, some goals and objectives to be measured against, and some goals for the coming year.

We need someone who is passionate about the job.  Passion comes in different forms.  We need someone who is excited about making this part of the city better.  We need someone who has great ideas.  We need someone who will be an advocate for us.

It might be too much to ask, or too clichéd, but we need someone who is visionary, not reactionary.  Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • It might sound obvious, but we’ve got a major tree problem in this city.  And we didn’t always.  Did you know that Worcester had one of the best street tree programs in the country about 125 years ago?  I know we’ve got the Worcester Tree Initiative, but we need an even more vocal advocate for trees in this city.  We need someone to ask why we can’t use some of the existing vacant lots not only for urban farms but to grow seedlings.  (Here’s an extra for the winning candidate: you can call my backyard a “vacant lot” and grow American chestnuts therein.)
  • We need someone to advocate for responsible dog ownership through support and education, not by creating bully breeds.
  • We need someone who fully embraces communication and social media, and who is willing to have an honest dialog with constituents.
  • We need someone who truly thinks for him/herself and who’s not beholden to party machines, special interests, etc.