RCTV Campaign Speech October 2023
1. GrowthRandolph is becoming a small city and we need to improve our infrastructure as a small city: for our streets, for our water, and for our transportation.
I hear often from people about so many streets that need repaving or repair. We get money from the state for that, and I worked hard to increase our fair share of what's called "Chapter 90" money. For years, we left miles of our roads "unaccepted", which means they don't count when allocating state money. Now the Town will write an annual report on every "unaccepted" road, and for the easy roads, get them onto the "accepted" list. That report is next due in February. We could increase our state allocation from $700,000 to double that and be able to repave a dozen more streets a year that's getting our fair share for infrastructure.
Our water system is healthy but needs to deal with the new issue of "PFAS", a chemical that seeps into our water supply and when the levels are too high, you get a warning in the mail like a couple of years ago. I pushed for two actions on PFAS: 1) a free filtered water supply at the DPW (with a second one going in North Randolph soon); and 2) add PFAS filtering, called GAC, to our existing water treatment plant. Now I'm working with MassDEP to find the sources of PFAS so we can remove them and not have to filter out so much (which could save a quarter-million dollars per year). This is very much an environmental justice issue because it's likely we'll find PFAS in toxic waste sites in Holbrook and Braintree.
On transportation -- We're served ok by the MBTA, but we could do a lot better. I wrote the "bus petition" which passed this year calling for a shuttle bus to bring people from housing areas to transit hubs and downtown. It's in a "feasibility study" now and is due next June. My hope is that hundreds of households can switch from a 2-car to a 1-car family because they can use the shuttle van to commute cutting down traffic and cutting down monthly expenses for people who live far from the MBTA bus lines.
I'm also seeking to expand BAT#12 bus service to North Randolph that bus runs THROUGH North Randolph, but you can't get on or off there unless you're south of Town Hall we can fix that -- that's getting our fair share!
2. GrantsOur Town government is good at applying for state and federal grants when we're eligible for them, but there are many many! grant programs that we COULD be eligible for, but we've never set up Randolph properly to apply for millions and millions of dollars.
For example you can hike on our "Reservoir Walk" from Oak Street on both sides of the reservoir wouldn't it be nice to have a walkway connecting the two halves? I tried to apply for a state grant to do that, with Braintree too, but the state agency said, "Braintree can apply but Randolph can't because you neglected to file an OSRP." She meant "Since 2017, Randolph hasn't written an Open Space and Recreation Plan." So I got that process started by creating the Master Plan Implementation Committee, who will write it with the Planning Department. It should come out later this year, and then we can apply for state grants for open space.
For another example there's a state program called "Gateway Cities" which provides grants for workforce development, bilingual education, small business empowerment, and all sort of other needs of small cities like Randolph. To be eligible, a small city has to have 35,000 residents and the U.S. Census reported that we were 16 people shy of 35,000. Everyone in town had stories of people missed during the 2020 census, so I worked with UMass and our Town Clerk to provide evidence of hundreds of people missed. The U.S. Census officially declared Randolph over 35,000 people in July this year. Now I'm working to get us onto the state lists so we can apply for millions of dollars in small city grants for the next decade.
For a final example -- Starting this year and into next, I want to get Randolph eligible for "Green Community" grants. The state provides millions of dollars for energy efficiency everything from insulating town buildings, to buying electric vehicles for town cars, to providing charging stations for people's electric cars. Most towns on the South Shore have long been eligible we're one of the last holdouts. To get started, we have to produce an "energy audit" of where the town is energy-inefficient -- and then we get $230,000 to fix those. I think this is a "no-brainer" but I need your help so Randolph can become eligible to get our fair share!
Maybe you've heard about all the COVID recovery money from the federal government the next round will focus on "green infrastructure" like my plans for energy efficiency, and shuttle buses, and open space. Billions of dollars will flow from the federal government to state and then to towns but if we don't ask for it, we won't get much! The money is there for the asking but we need to make Randolph eligible, to get our fair share!
3. Good GovernmentGood government means building infrastructure to improve our quality of life, and maximizing grants to get our fair share. But is also means addressing equity and justice issues. I see these issues all around town.
Have you visited the Blue Hills in North Randolph? It goes into Canton, Milton, and Quincy too but they get all sorts of amenities and we don't. There are two beautiful lakes in the Blue Hills Houghton's Pond in Milton, which has a lovely state-maintained beach with a family picnic area. And Ponkapoag Pond in Canton and Randolph which has a golf course and YMCA camp on the Canton side, but hardly any access at all on the Randolph side. That's because the wealthy communities of Canton and Milton pushed for those amenities, while for decades Randolph didn't ask. So now I'm asking and it's working. The state park agency is planning rehab of Ponkapoag Pond costing upwards of $20 million but they barely even included the Randolph side until I spoke up now some of those millions will benefit us. I've started with two "Welcome" signs at the Donovan School and at the baseball fields on High Street yes, you can walk from there with your kids, to Ponkapoag Pond! and there'll be more coming next year.
That sort of "park inequity" is in our municipal parks as well as our state park. I read our "Community Wellness Plan," which outlines how every neighborhood should have access to parks and recreation areas, for physical and mental health as well as just for open "green space." There's a beautiful 35-acre park in South Randolph listed there the Lokitis Conservation Area but it has been closed to the public for decades! And worse, because it's closed, it gets trash dumped there, and DPW won't cut the weeds to allow people to hike in. I pushed last year to "open up our parks" starting with Lokitis you can hike or bike there now from where Highland Avenue intersects Stoughton Street and I've gotten funding for DPW to clean up the trash. We have a dozen other beautiful parks in Randolph but we lock ourselves out! Let's open them up that's good government!
In a diverse community like ours, "language equity" counts too. I was thrilled last November to see our ballots printed in Vietnamese that's because federal rules say that when over 5% of a community speaks that language, the ballot should include it. But everyone knows that there are even more Haitian Creole speakers in Randolph than there are Vietnamese speakers so why aren't our ballots printed in Haitian Creole too? The answer is because Vietnamese is a "federally-protected language" and Haitian Creole is not. So we asked the state to allow us to include Haitian Creole just like we include Vietnamese on our ballots and to pay for most of the costs, like they do for Vietnamese we sent a "Home Rule Petition" to the state legislature earlier this year. I'd like to include both languages on all "vital documents" in Randolph that's good government!
ConclusionI'm so proud that Randolph is the most diverse community in the Commonwealth but that means we have a responsibility to show the rest of the state, and the rest of the country, how government SHOULD work in a diverse community. Vote for me, Jesse Gordon, to continue bringing Randolph our fair share.
ΐ mes amis francophones, je voudrais votre votes
A mis amigos que hablan espaρol, quisiera sus votos tambien.
Vote for Jesse Gordon on November 7, thank you!
|Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon, 52 West St, Randolph MA 02368|
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