My priority as D-20 Representative is to advocate for the elements that make the the 20th district unique. Those elements are the district's environment, community, and infrastructure. on the environment, there is a fragile balance in D20 between the desires of residents to expand and beautify homes and yards and protecting a landscape rich in forests, wetlands, and animal life. Those elements must be protected while the rights of property owners are recognized. The district is rich in parkland which should be accessible for all but protected from overuse and under-maintenance, Use of the parks needs to be planned for appeal to families, hikers, sports groups and pet owners. For our community, ordinances that protect safety on the roads and in the neighborhoods must be enforced. Our schools - Northeast, Scofield Middle, Villa Maria, the Children's Center, should promote academic excellence and should weave their programs into the life of the district. Infrastructure needs - road paving and more sidewalks - need to be pushed to the forefront of the city budgeting process. Better communication with the state, and more respect for concerns of local residents, is needed where changes in state roads -- High Ridge, Long Ridge, the Merritt Parkway -- impact how we travel and get around. Other infrastructure issues such as sewers and storm water need to be discussed in the context of the larger land area and water quality as well as changes in weather that are impacting our terrain.
As a member of the Board of Education 2000 to 2009, I am aware of how far back the under-funding of school capital needs goes. I am hopeful that the current moment is the right one for us to capture federal and state funding to rebuild, or build new, school buildings recommended by the BOE's Long Term Facility study. I also hope that the BOE will use the current study period to re-examine school locations, student population growth distribution and student academic needs in order to place school buildings so that fewer students have long bus rides, more parents are able to exercise a choice in what school their child attends, and we are able to spend fewer dollars on transportation than currently. If we are to invest large sums in new schools, I hope we don't automatically rely on old patterns to locate them. As a member of the BOR, I will support an aggressive BOE capital plan and will help the BOE advocate for funding sources that don't rely exclusively on the Stamford residents. As previously mentioned, this is the moment to look at the federal and state level and to begin a dialogue with developers to stretch their contributions further than traffic lights and sidewalks into helping us build schools the residents of the new properties can use.
I fully accept feedback from constituents who want their Representative to be present and communicative on social media. In mutiple storms and power outages over the last term, I've done my best to send out important city and Eversource information but understand that this type of communication should be expanded to open up the Board of Representatives agenda to solicit input on items up for discussion, to alert people of public hearings, and to promote online discussion. I am looking forward to the clear end of the pandemic so we can repeat the in-person Town Hall meeting format we were able to use in 2018 and 2019, perhaps streaming those gatherings so more residents can be part of the discussion. The city itself needs to expand its broadband capabilities so that more people can participate in Board of Reps meeting opportunities for public hearings and Public Comment on the monthly agenda. The Board of Representatives needs to continue to try to expand each Rep's ability to communicate by email beyond the one-at-a-time gathering of addresses we now use, and the Board of Representatives needs to join with Stamford Public Schools and the Ferguson Library to make sure that citizen access to the internet and electronic information is more widespread.