I am unopposed in the 2022 Municipal Election, but I still attend campaign forums and respond to questions from interested organizations. Below is a collection of these responses.
Citizens for Lexington Conservation
The subject of this year’s Candidates’ Question, “The Sustainable Residential Incentives Warrant Article,” would reduce the size of new one and two family residential construction projects that could be built without incorporating sustainability features. The article would allow the construction of family homes up to the current maximum gross floor area if they incorporate certain sustainability features. Additions, renovations or other modifications to existing homes would not be affected by this proposed zoning article.
The CLC candidates’ question asks: Do you support this article? Why or why not? If you support the article, indicate whether you think this is a useful and appropriate way to encourage new construction that supports the Town’s sustainability goals. If you are opposed to this article, please explain why you think this article is not an appropriate or useful way to help meet the town’s sustainability goals. If you think the article could be modified in a way that would allow you to support it, please explain how.More CLC info
Yes, I support this article. When the Clean Heat Alliance was developing its Commercial Zoning amendment to provide incentives to reduce fossil-fuel use in the Hartwell Avenue Innovation District during the summer of 2021, I suggested that the next step should be to create a similar set of incentives for new residential construction across the whole town. I am pleased that the alliance was able to move forward and bring this thoughtful zoning amendment to Town Meeting.
Residential fossil fuel use is responsible for about a quarter of Lexington’s CO2 emissions. Some homeowners have begun to transition their homes from being fossil-fuel dependent by installing heat-pump systems like I have done in my own home in 2018. It will, however, take many years to make substantial townwide reductions in the more than 10,000 existing homes. New construction, however, is well suited for eliminating the use of fossil fuels immediately. New homes can be designed and be well sited on the lot for solar energy collection and built to be all-electric avoiding costly refits in the future.
The incentive structure proposed in article 40 is creative and fair. New construction that meets all of the sustainability targets (i.e., tier 2) will continue to be able to be as large as allowed before article 40 is adopted. These size limits are generous relative to those in other communities. New construction that meets only the tier 1 targets can still be built to three quarters of the old size limits.
As the old adage goes “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change requires us all to act. Beginning by not making things worse is the first important step.
League of Women Voters
Because of recent federal legislation, Lexington will be receiving a substantial infusion of funding (ARPA funds) over the next year or so. As a member of the Select Board, what processes would you set in place to determine priorities for using the remainder of the funds? What would some of your own priorities be? How would you envision public input in that process?Lexington Town Election 2022 Voter Guide
My priorities for using ARPA funds are to address the harms caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. At the top of my list is supporting residents who are experiencing food or housing insecurity and providing support for businesses that have suffered financial strain due to the pandemic. In addition, I favor funding programs that strengthen our ability to provide public health services or support delivery of town services more safely in protected or outdoor venues.
The Board is in the process of determining how to create a public process for participatory budgeting in allocation of additional funds. My goals are to make sure that there be a clear process for submission of proposals, for verifying that these projects satisfy the ARPA funding restrictions and that they align with the Board’s stated community goals, and finally that there be a clear process for encouraging and collecting community feedback on the proposals. It is essential that we reach out broadly to the community so that everyone is aware of the process and eligible to participate.
Should there be more funding available, then I would consider using ARPA funds to support eligible non-recurring Town projects. This, however, should be after we are clear that we have satisfied the needs created by the pandemic.
LexPride asked candidates to answer two questions:
What do you see the role of your body (Town Meeting, Select Board, School Committee, Planning Board, Town Moderator) in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in Lexington?
How do you individually, in your capacity as an elected official, plan to act to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in Lexington?More info at LexPride
The Select Board has both a policy creation role and a direct operational role in advancing these issues. We reflect the community values expressed by Town Meeting resolutions asking us to consider these issues in all our actions by embodying them in our goals. As the appointing authority for many committees, we apply these goals in reaching out broadly and appointing members from a broad cross-section of the community. As the chief executive body for the community, we monitor how municipal services are constituted and delivered and guide the Town Manager to continually improve our standing.
I expect to continue acting as I have throughout my tenure on the Board. I will advocate for these issues, and as in the recent community outreach effort on Policing I conducted with Select Board member Doug Lucente, I will devote time to make sure that every member of the community has the opportunity to participate and feels that they are treated fairly and with respect.
CALEX & IGIG Present Candidates Forum 2022 (February 12th, 2022) – Joe’s responses to community questions
Full forum is available here
CAAL and CAAL PAC held their annual candidate forum on Thursday, Feb 3. I am honored to accept the CAAL PAC endorsement for re-election to the Select Board.
LexMedia Coffee with the Candidates
In addition, LexMedia generously held a “coffee with the candidates” session with Suzie Barry and me this past week even though we are running unopposed for re-election to the Select Board. This was a great opportunity to discuss a number of issues facing Lexington.