Candidate Page – Emily Mitchell, Selectman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click this link to read Emily Mitchell’s caucus statement

Questions of the Selectmen Candidates asked by The Bedford Citizen

1 – Hiring a new town manager after 30 years is an opportunity to take a fresh look at the Town and perhaps change priorities. Do you have new goals that arise at this pivotal point in Bedford’s history? I think Bedford is at an exciting inflection point. Welcoming a new town manager gives us a great opportunity to examine our existing practices and policies, and evaluate what’s working and what might need adjustment or rethinking as we look toward the future.

I’m encouraged by many of the simple but important changes Town Manager Stanton has already made: changing the office hours for Town Hall to include evening hours on Mondays, for example, and recommending the establishment of a Commission on Disability, which will be part of the warrant at Annual Town Meeting on March 25. Both are indicative of a fuller understanding of the needs and concerns of current residents, and align well with the ideas of accessibility and inclusivity that I’ve been talking about throughout my campaign.

I’ve said at several recent campaign events that finding the right balance between tradition and innovation—respecting our precedents from the past, while being unafraid to embrace change for the future—is a critical skill for the Selectmen at this moment. I’ve lived in Bedford long enough to understand and value the things that set us apart as a Town, but I also want Bedford to continue exploring and implementing new ideas to make our hometown more livable.

Many of my goals are ones that are already in progress or part of our Comprehensive Plan: more sidewalks and other options for non-car travel, greater resources for economic development, more housing options for people at different life stages and income levels. My broader goals include improving Town communications, particularly regarding the Town website, and supporting more community arts programs (developing a cultural district, bringing back community theatre in Bedford, etc.).

2 – The oldest and most current complaint in Bedford is about traffic. What opportunities for regional transportation would you welcome? I’d love to have more data on where our local commuters and cut-through commuters are heading when they traverse Bedford’s roads. There are already opportunities for Bedford residents to get to Boston, Cambridge, and other points on the T through buses connecting to Alewife; we can and should advocate for additional services along those existing routes.

I’m intrigued by public/private partnerships such as the Middlesex 3 Transportation Management Association (TMA), which brings commuters from Alewife to businesses along Crosby Drive and Middlesex Turnpike. The REV Bus is another similar service, run by the 128 Business Council and funded by member companies: it provides shuttle buses between Alewife and the Waltham and Lexington business districts, including Hartwell Ave and Maguire Road on our eastern border. There may be other popular office parks or corridors within Bedford and nearby towns (Concord, Westford, Chelmsford, etc.) that could benefit from an option like this. Looking further north, perhaps the Boston Express bus from Nashua could make a stop on Crosby Drive or Burlington Road. These are not solutions the Selectman can enact single-handedly, but they’re conversations we should be having to help alleviate the stress on our local roads.

I’d also like to see further implementation of Bedford’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which would provide connections among sidewalks, trails, and the Minuteman Bikeway for commuters who would prefer to walk or bike to work safely. My husband bikes occasionally to his office in Waltham in the spring and summer along a patchwork route of bikeways, side roads, and main roads, some of which are safer than others. Again, regional partnerships would be important here, to ensure connectivity and continuity along common commuter routes.

There are a few things Bedford can do on its own to try to mitigate rush hour traffic, including implementing traffic-calming measures along major roads and installing modern roundabouts at common chokepoint intersections (such as Page/Old Billerica/Shawsheen on Route 62, or the Wilson Park interchange at Concord/North/Great Rds). The temporary disruptions during construction would be challenging to manage, but the goal of keeping traffic flowing is a critical one.

Final campaign statement: Many thanks to the Bedford Citizen for the opportunity to speak to voters one more time before Election Day on March 9. I’m running for Selectman because I believe in using my skills and time to serve the things I love. Serving Bedford as a Selectman would be a privilege.

As you may have heard, I’ve structured my candidacy around accessibility, livability, and inclusivity.

ACCESSIBILITY: I want to make it easier to find information, to participate in Town Meeting, and to vote and run for office. Even though I ran for and was elected to public office in 2016, I’ve learned so much more about the process of campaigning this year. I’ve met new people, listened to their concerns, and gained new perspectives and new insights on what motivates my fellow residents. I believe in transparency and access to information, and I will work to make it easier for people to find and use the information they need to be active and engaged citizens.

LIVABILITY is a huge umbrella, covering housing, traffic, jobs, public works, and more. The Selectmen have influence, but not always control, over these issues—which is an important, if sometimes frustrating, distinction to understand. We are fortunate to have strong partnerships with regional groups such as the Middlesex 3 Coalition and HATS, as well as an invaluable resource in our Economic Development Director. I look forward to working with Town and regional officials and organizations to fulfill the vision laid out in our Comprehensive Plan.

INCLUSIVITY: I want everyone in Bedford to feel welcome, valued, and heard, no matter their background or how long they’ve been in town. I’m delighted that one of the articles on the warrant for Town Meeting asks voters to establish a Commission on Disability, which speaks to these kinds of issues. I also believe that representation matters: it’s important for Bedford’s leadership to be as reflective as possible of our changing population. I’ve been told that, if elected, I’d be Bedford’s tenth female Selectman, and I’d be honored to continue the legacy of the women who have come before me and who continue to serve.

Bedford is at an inflection point, with a growing population, a new Town Manager, and a concurrent desire to maintain the qualities that have made us an attractive home for nearly 300 years. Finding a balance between respecting our traditions and embracing needed change is something I feel I can do well as a Selectman.

I’ve been an active volunteer in Bedford for nearly twenty years, as a Library Trustee, POMS president, champion of the arts, and vestry warden. I welcome the opportunity to serve our Town in a new way, and I hope you use one of your votes for Selectman to give me that chance. I look forward to strong turnout at the polls on March 9.

Letters to the Editor supporting Emily Mitchell

Emily’s PSA on Bedford TV

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