2019-10-28 00:33:45

USPS Letter Carrier William Lynch is challenging District 7 City Council incumbent and small business owner Margareth Shepard for the council seat in Framingham. The pair debated Sunday at the Framingham library.

FRAMINGHAM – Conducting a city-wide traffic study, promoting the use of alternative transportation and revitalizing downtown were a few of the ideas the city council candidates for District 7 discussed Sunday at a candidates debate at the Framingham Public Library.

USPS Letter Carrier William Lynch is challenging District 7 City Council incumbent and small business owner Margareth Shepard for the council seat.

This isn’t the first time Lynch and Shepard are facing off for the seat – they competed against each other during the city’s inaugural election in 2017.

Shepard is the owner of Golden Cleaners, a cleaning service company located at 169 Arthur St.

Lynch is also treasurer for his local union, the National Association of Letter Carries BR 334.

Sunday’s debate was sponsored by the Framingham League of Women Voters and The MetroWest Daily News.

Highlights of what was asked and discussed:

Q: What is the most important issue facing your district and what is the most important issue facing the city.

Shepard said the main problems facing her district is the same major issues facing the city as a whole – public transportation and traffic.

“I propose the city have a study for the entire traffic in the city to solve particular area issues … We need to understand how we (can) change the city,” she said.

Lynch said the biggest issue is the lack of public involvement from the many residents who live there.

“Typically, our district has a low voter turnout – pretty much all of south Framingham has a low voter turnout,” he said. “We keep talking about how we want to keep people involved, so we need to really reach out and make it more accessible,” he said.

City-wide, traffic is the biggest concern, Lynch said.

Q: Framingham is designated as a Green Community and the city was recently awarded a $222,000 grant to fund a variety of energy conservation measures across 18 municipal facilities. Given the significant infrastructure needs not covered by this grant, how would you suggest priorities for these projects be determined?

Lynch said he didn’t know what the priorities are, but suggested the city get a variety of city departments together to determine the best way forward.

“We get questions all the time: ‘What would you do with this money if you had it?’ It’s not something I can answer because that should be a collaborative issue. There is no one person that should be able to answer that.”

He noted, however, that he was embarrassed by the lack of progress made to outfit the city’s buildings with solar panels.

Shepard said it’s hard to determine how to prioritize green projects when the city has many needs.

Shepard said she would work with different departments and environmental organizations in the city to determine how they could determine the best steps.

Q: Revitalizing downtown appears to be a top priority for Framingham residents. What is your vision of a revitalized downtown and how would you make that vision a reality?

Shepard said the city needs to do a better job supporting small businesses for the onslaught of new residents that are going to be moving into the apartments downtown and throughout the city.

Lynch said he would like to see downtown as more of a hotbed of activity and an area people actually enjoyed going through.

Lynch said one of the biggest reasons that isn’t the case now is because of traffic and parking issues.

“It’s such a pain the butt to get down there during business hours,” he said.

He suggested the city promote more alternative forms of transportation, such as electric scooters and electric bikes.

Q: Framingham is the home to an estimated 12,000 Hispanic and Latino/Latina residents. Many struggle with common challenges, such as language barrier, and federal immigration policies. Name one concrete step that city government could take to better serve these residents.

Lynch said that city government could do a better job of distributing information out to residents. He noted that the city relies heavily on social media to inform residents about what is going on, but that many residents don’t use social media at all.

He also noted that much of the time, flyers are only written in one or two languages. From his count, 19 different languages are spoken in the city.

“What we need to do reach out via actual printed material that’s delivered to them,” he said.

Shepard noted that as a city councilor she was able to create a task force charged with writing a draft of a welcoming immigrants ordinance.

“Language barrier is just one of the factors,” she said. “We need to empower the community and approve legislation that guarantees their safe,” she said.

The city election is Nov. 5.

Cesareo Contreras can be reached at 508-626-3957 or ccontreras@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @cesareo_r.


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