I am Jerry Leone, lifelong resident of Malden, former School Committee member for four years. Of the four candidates, I am the only candidate that graduated from Malden High School and is a Veteran. It would be an honor to have one of your three votes.
I chose to run for office because I wish to offer you a vision of Malden that the City Council of the last few years and especially the last two years has lacked. That is not my vision that is your vision the voters. The one largely described in the Vision Plan of 2008 and then again during the Moratorium Survey or 2017. It is not a Vision of the Mass monied Apartment Developers, or the people at the Metropitan Area Planning Council a group that wishes Malden to continue to build thousands more apartments while telling all our less densely populated and wealthier neighbors they might perhaps build a few hundred more. My vision, I believe is your vision:
I think that we as a City should put any new plan vs the old plan on the ballot to let the citizens decide how it should work. I am not a fan of the current blue bags but I also believe rushing into something new putting the charge on the water bills , makes it easier for future increases and certainly will make it more costly for many residents who do not throw away much trash today. The bags as they exist are at least a user fee that the citizens control their expenses on. I believe a vote providing the existing option and the potential future option should be given to the citizens so it is determined democratically and is not a money raising exercise which I think the current plan may be.
I am not for any new housing in Malden except for Senior and Veteran housing and that should only be built with the idea of taking care of our own existing citizens first. Malden has more affordable housing than any of our existing neighbors by a wide margin. It is time for our neighbors with more wealth like Melrose, Wakefield, Stoneham and Winchester which have almost none to step up and do more. We have more housing density and populations density by three times compared to all those towns. Malden is protected against 40B forced housing development today because we are over 10% affordable not including Section 8 which makes us really about 15% and no other community abutting us is over 8%. Most are below 7% and have a fraction of our section 8 vouchers.
Malden’s average household income has dropped when compared to the State in the last generation while Medford, Melrose, Arlington, Winchester etc have increased. Again simply time for others that have little but can afford more to do their share.
I am all for Community Gardens as long as they are not funded through our general funds but privately and through the CPA funds. General funds must not be used for anything but our basic services of Schools, Public Safety, DPW, Infrastructure and general operations. We must separate our needs from our wants to become healthy again. Too often this Council simply has been unable to do so.
National Grid has shown no thought about selling that site. We should ask them in to discuss what their plans are. IN the meantime I do not think we should spend a lot of wasted time discussing it unless that becomes a reality. No plans weather for Baseball. Soccer etc have made any sense that I have seen and since the City does not own it, the land is terribley contaminated meaning, we can’t put a school or park their ourselves, then we should simply be patient and when and if National Grid comes forward with a plan we should sit and listen and if it makes financial sense for the City, meaning no apartments then yes we should discuss.
Rowes Quarry is an example of a development that should never have occurred in the manner it did and never happen again. It was a development where 50% of the units were supposed to be owner occupied and they never lived up to that promise from day 1. We must reverse the trend of owner occupied to balance the city moving forward and I believe there should be massive disincentives toward rental units and incentives for conversion to owner occupied. I will propose to raise the residential tax incentive to 40% if elected saving the owners of homes in this city who occupy them another $200 to $300 annually in taxes. I would do this to offset at least a portion of the trash fee on the owners of our homes who have invested in this city and particularly those who own and occupy the two and three family homes, that get higher water bills and potentially higher trash fees if that barrel is attached to the water bill.
Eqaul Equity or Equality
I support equality for all people in jobs etc. In a community as diverse as ours is I think the best way to get there is simply to insist that we hire our own residents for most jobs. In a city of 68,000 residents and growing almost all positions can be filled from within the city. As for the School Department where I was a School Committee member I hired and supported Dr Granderson to continue for the position of Superintendent and think that would have sent a message. The School Department moved in the right direction while I was there and I was outspoken in my support for the first African American Superintendent.
I support the City looking into parking stickers for residential area’s that need them. I will only vote for stickers if all residents are treated equally and believe once again it should be a ballot question and implemented in precincts that vote for the stickers. People will say stickers are free but over time I think it will provide the city with and easy path to slide through another tax when times get tough.
I am adamant that if elected we maintain the same or stronger parking requirements for all developments. There is a candidate in Ward Three that believes apartment buildings near the T should not be required to have parking this would be a grave mistake as well over 60% of the people commute to jobs. We do not want apartments where if you change jobs you have to change apartments or worse park on the street. As the City already has hundred year old apartment buildigns without parking and issues stickers to those residents who park in Ward Three and Two etc we cannot discriminate against new building occupants and tell them you cannot have a sticker it would be thrown out of court in a minute.
Plans for Malden River
I support the plans for Malden River and at the Same time believe we must keep the DPW on Malden River to maintain our ownership down there and provide access via a path through our own property. I also am opposed to moving the DPW into anybodys neighborhood as nobody would want to live next to the DPW and it is in a perfect out of the way location today. People not development and developers will always come first when I am elected.
Both Councilor DeMaria and Winslow in the last two years both downtown when they tried to keep the twelve story height limit and at Malden Hospital site when they tried to make way for a mass apartment development plotting behind the scenes to do so showed their hand. I will fight against raising the height and in fact will propose to limit heights on all apartment buildings to four stories and will always fight apartment development except for Senior housing at Hospital Hill. Unlike Councilor DeMaria who eight days after the moratorium went into effect promised to support Fellsmere Housing Group development of over 300 units at the Hospital site.
I support better timing of lights, going back to red yellow signals, even if not regulation, to have four way stops though out the city and to stop right turns on red during those periods. I do not support and will fight any future bump outs, lane diets that bring more auto congestion. I will propose that we re-look at Complete Street projects proposed to back off anyplace where parking or streetscape is lost to cars for bikes. I will adamantly oppose special bike/bus lanes on Salem Street, or Highland Ave which propose to eliminate parking cut down trees etc. Our streets are no more than 45 ft wide and we need more parking not less. I support the Bike path and people using it.
Things for Teenagers to Do
I support the Teen Center, the YMCA and youth sports. If elected I will demand that the Teen Center be open on the weekends which it has never been . It is there to serve teens and it has staffing that must have hours adjusted.
Need for Labor
I think we need to work with the Schools and Business people to provide summer and after school labor while kids are in HS. At the same time I would support the City rather than running the City Summer program as it is would subsidize employers paying for kids . If we could get 100 kids working in real jobs instead of make jobs, as the program is run largely today, we could get the kids valuable experience at half the price with employers paying half an city paying half. Ultimately it would allow the city to double the amount of kids hired and working in the summer. It would also provide the business people to get cheaper labor albeit for a short time but essentially at a training wage. If the young adult does a good job and learns it will then provide the business owner a pool of potential workers they know can be productive and help the students save for college etc.
Encore Mitigation Money
I believe most of this should go to the City Reserves today as we have had the longest upturn in history and the administration has not met the reserve requirement imposed by ordinance of 7.5%. I do not know when that will come but it is likely not in the too distant future. We need to prepare in order not to cut like we did in the last recession, particularly schools, public Safety and DPW.
Two of my three opponents on this stage Demaria and Winslow have never voted against a Mayors budget I will be prepared to do so in order to protect our basic needs over wants like the $2.4 million dollar bike lane to nowhere on Exchange Street that both Councilor DeMaria and Winslow were and are involved with. It is not an attack simply focusing on real priorities.
Since elected Councilor DeMaria and Winslow have only voted on one package of new roads to be done in a city of 120 miles of roads and pipes. That package didn’t happen until this spring when they voted on 27 streets and 2.5 miles of roads. At that pace folks it will take nearly 50 years to complete all the streets in Malden. We are lucky if a road lasts twenty years today. Road ways will be a focus for me. When we have made our reserved requirement I will propose that the Casino million dollar a year be used to fix our roads. Again there are nice to haves but our city is up against it and must focus on the basics.
On election day the citizens of Malden will have a clear decision to make. What I promise you is the following:
I will oppose any new multi unit apartment buildings developments in Malden except and unless they are for Senior housing. I will do this in response to what you the people of Malden stated clearly in your moratorium vote of 2015 and in both the vision survey of 2008 and the moratorium survey of 2017 which has been largely ignored by Councilor DeMaria and Winslow who are on this stage tonight. I will fight for more funding for education, police, fire and infrastructure.
Simply stopping housing development and focusing solely on commercial development will stop the bleeding. Malden has lost more Chapter 70 state aid for education funding than it has picked up in increased taxes from the apartment buildings it has put up in the last decade.
Unlike Councilor DeMaria and Winslow who have blocked and tackled for Developers by trying to keep the 12 story height limits, pushed for mass apartment development on Hospital Hill, and openly support a current candidate who supports MAPC 3800 unit apartment plan, I will fight against further overdevelopment at every turn and just stopping it will make our city better off financially.
I will propose new ordinances which will call for more mitigation fees for multi unit developers and with high fees for apartment development and lower fees for owner occupied condo or housing development. I will insist on a new ordinance which requires a pro forma ten year financial statement showing a 20% positive uplift for Malden for a project to be approved by the planning board . This is simply just common sense no business would approve a plan which cost it more than it brought in.
I will propose regulations which will make converting apartments to condos and ownership easier to drive our owner occupied homes up from under 40% to a more balanced
50% to make our community more stable and to help reduce the massive attrition rates our schools are fighting now because of past misguided development in the city.
I will focus my efforts to truly mitigate traffic by working to increase traffic throughput on the major roadways such as Rt 99, Rt 60 and Commercial Street. Improving signaling but also never allowing for bike lanes, road diets or bump outs to impede its throughput and thus force drivers to look for alternative routes in our neighborhoods I will fight to make sure limited resources are used on priorities such as building our rainy day reserve which has shrunk in the last few years, making sure our infrastructure limited dollars are used to benefit the vast majority meaning car drivers, and fighting to insure public safety funding is not only maintained but increased.
I will push for an annual roads program that is open and transparent. In the last two years only one set of roads have been approved for bonding and that was this past spring and it was only 27 streets over the next five years . In 2018 the City Council while Councilor DeMaria was President did not have roads as an agenda item one time. Yet they spend weeks on 16 years olds voting proposal which was sponsored by Councilor Winslow. They spend a year working on a marijuana ordiance and passed nothing.