Falmouth Dems Host Candidate Forum and Multifamily/Affordable Housing Warrant Article Review

Rosemary Carey, Vice Chair, started the meeting by introducing our first speaker, State Rep. Tami Gouveia, of Acton, who is running as a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor in next year’s election. She has been a representative for three years and finds that her personal life experiences align with many Democratic issues and values.

She is a public health social worker and single mother. She running to lead an equitable recovery from COVID-19 and chart a path toward a more just, sustainable Massachusetts. She knows that the position of Lieutenant Governor is a poorly defined position but just as Vice President’s duties on the federal level, there will be many specific roles for the position when the New Democratic Governor is elected. Click here for details about Rep. Gouveia’s Meet & Greet at Liam Maguires at 5:30PM on November 5.

The second speaker was State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz from the 2nd Suffolk district.  She is running for Democratic candidate for Governor for next year’s election.  The first Hispanic woman elected to the State Senate, she has a clear view of the social and economic gaps found in our state.

She states that it is the role of state government to support residents from birth on in a stronger way than it now does.  “Our systems are broken and we need more urgency on the state level.” She sees Baker as blocking, delaying and watering down change.  For example, students have large debts and much fear about repayment issues. She says that Democrats need to build a grass roots movement to bring about a Democratic Governorship  in our state for the first time in three decades.  “We know how to do things in MA and we just need to find the muscle memory for that.” When asked about her stance on gun violence prevention, she stated that she supports Rep. Linsky’s gun related bills and has proposed one herself to limit gun purchases to 12 a year.

The third speaker was State Senator Diana DiZoglio from the 1st Essex district which includes Methuen and Newburyport as well as other North Shore towns.  She attended Wellesley College via scholarships and has done a number of working class jobs.  She is a strong advocate of civic education and is running for State Auditor.  She calls for more transparency on Beacon Hill, stating that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  She explained that the job of the Auditor is a management one, overseeing 200 people who do the actual auditing work in the state , investigating programs to see money is spent the way it is supposed to be, and that jobs are carried out for the state.

Another candidate for Auditor, Chris Dempsey, spoke about his plans.  He wants the Auditor to take a more proactive, rather than a reactive position, on issues.  Hard questions need to be asked as tougher issues are taken on.  “We must work in real time, not after the fact.” Chris served as Assistant Secretary of Transportation under Governor Deval Patrick and envisions the Auditor position as “Chief Accountability Officer.”

Changing to local issues, our program switched to feature Charlotte Harris of the Falmouth Planning Board.   She noted that there are 6 Planning Board Articles on the Warrant for Town Meeting this Nov. 15.  She explained more about two of the Articles.  The first Article has to do with recodifying the entire set of Zoning Bylaws.  There the effort is to make it easier to understand the Falmouth Zoning Bylaws which are 95 years old and we’re last recodified in 1979.  Updates and improved language are needed to attract developers who want to build in our town and to help residents plan and make choices as well as to make a more livable town going forward.  The Planning Board has spent 4 years on this project of reform and their work needs a 2/3 approval vote in Town Meeting.

The second Article Charlotte Harris spoke about is titled the MRCOD Article known by the Planning Board Committee as “Mr. Cod” . That refers to the Mixed Residential and Commercial Overlay District Article. This is a plan for multi family and affordable housing, including apartments above shops, with green space, off street parking, and walkable areas. This will encourage more of a community space and sense.

Although there is some government money for this kind of thing, private money of developers is needed to get this done.  The Zoning Bylaws have to be more attractive for developers to come in. The projects have to be 25% affordable with rental housing, as well and would be up to 20 units per acre, and would be built by right. The Planning Board is the place to require climate change modifications to housing but these are not mandated in these reformed Bylaws so as to keep them simple and easy to use.

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