Julianne Orsino is a candidate for Ward 3 City Councillor.
These are her answers to questions that Malden Votes sent out to all candidates. They have not been edited or abridged. Here is the PDF version of these answers.
Hello, my name is Julianne Orsino and I am running for the open Ward 3 City Councillor seat. I have a BA in Economics and Psychology and MS in Environmental Studies. I have over 20 years’ experience as a Senior Project Manager and have successfully implemented multi-million-dollar, complex projects globally. Currently, I work for a local non-profit and am thrilled to be a small part of their overall mission!
I have been actively involved in the Malden community since my wife and I moved here 10 years ago. I am the Chair of the Malden Community Preservation Community and am proud of the incredible work the committee has accomplished. As a “fierce community advocate”, I have organized community events, engaged the community in support of vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian safety measures, represented residents on the Complete Streets taskforce, and been a additional voice in our community to our leaders.
As an active resident I have been successful in building strong working relationships with many in city leadership as well as with neighbors and community members. There is much more to share about my background, accomplishments and vision for our great city. I am working hard to reach Ward 3 residents and earn their vote!
I appreciate the opportunity from MaldenVotes to share who I am, my life experiences and why I believe I am the best choice to represent Ward 3 on the City Council. I ask for your vote on November 5th!
Over the past four years, what actions of the city council did you most support or oppose, and why?
Over the years, there are many actions the City Council has taken which I have actively supported or participated in. Examples of these actions are the council approving public comment, the single use plastic bag ban ordinance, the ongoing work around inclusionary zoning, the unanimous council support of the Fellsway/Highland Ave adaptive lights project and of course the creation of the CPC. What has been most remarkable is how well the city council is working together these past 2 years.
As an active community advocate, I have been able to build strong relationships with current city councilors, whether we agree politically or not. This ability to work well with others regardless of political position is an essential skill for the next Ward 3 City Councillor to possess. Ward 3 is in the position to move forward with a solution to the Hospital Site challenge and being able to bring the community and fellow councilors together for the betterment of Malden will be critical to making this happen. This is a strength I bring to the table!
Which social issues do you care about, and why? How would you advocate for those issues?
There are many social issues I care about and actively work on. Social issues surrounding hunger, homelessness and addiction are of particular interest to me. As a city, we are very lucky to have incredible non-profit and faith-based organizations that work tirelessly to address these and other social issues. Over the years, I have provided my support to local organizations such as Bread of Life, Malden Overcoming Addiction and Housing Families. At the national level, there are a many I support. For example, Special Olympics, American Red Cross and Toys for Tots.
I strongly believe the work of local organizations deserve our support since they are key contributors to our community’s social and civic vitality. Elected officials have an opportunity to raise the visibility of these organizations by supporting their activities, providing the opportunity to bring their subject matter expertise into conversations and enable an environment where issues can be raised and discussed openly and without judgement.
By continuing to be an active member of the community as well as Ward 3 City Councillor, I will continue to be a strong and active advocate of these efforts through volunteerism and working well with my peer councillors to pass initiatives that help minimize the impact of these challenging social issues.
What concrete steps can Malden make to address our environmental challenges, whether global or local?
I earned my Master’s degree in Environmental Studies and will work with residents and city officials to lead in the area of environmental improvements. Below are some initial concrete steps Malden can take to address our environmental challenges.
1.) Develop a solid plan to replace and maintain our native tree population. As we look to keep our city green and keep Malden a proud Tree City USA designee, it is imperative that we have a long-term plan to maintain the health of our tree inventory.
2.) Research, communicate and implement more opportunities for alternative energy and energy conservation programs to help homeowners and renters reduce their overall carbon footprint
3.) Investigate opportunities in our municipal and public housing buildings to improve their energy efficiency
4.) Extend the tradition of yearly Ward-based park clean-ups to a yearly city-wide resident/volunteer Malden River clean up.
5.) Continue to work with city leaders, non-profits and state agencies in pursuing opportunities to improve the vitality of Malden River
6.) Specific to Ward 3, it is imperative we build a stronger working relationship with DCR and partner with this state agency to maintain Fellsmere Park as the “jewel of the city,” as it is often referred.
My environmental education, experience and project management background will be a great benefit to my role as Ward 3 City Councillor.
Malden is a diverse city with many marginalized communities. What initiatives would you implement to support these communities?
One of the main reasons we moved to Malden was its diversity. I am a member of LGBTQ+ community with a wife and daughter who are Latina. I have real experience being part of a marginalized community and am thankful for living Massachusetts where our relationship is protected.
All groups should be supported when they come together and celebrate their culture, background and communities. It is also important to create opportunities for all to align in creating a strong inclusive community by enabling information sharing/education on the issues that matter to specific communities, not just providing a seat at the table, but providing real leadership roles. As we continue to -celebrate our diversity, we need to elect leaders who know how to create inclusive environments. Lastly, we must remember that diversity is broad and marginalized communities include many beyond what we typically define. Including communities of differing abilities, ages, mixed backgrounds and socio-economic levels is the best way to become inclusive of all walks of life.
As your Ward 3 City Councillor, I will explore and identify with the various communities, the best communication mechanisms for their community and listen attentively to how they would like to be supported. As someone who has lived the role of “outsider” I understand the importance of having a deep understanding of how we can begin to solution together, make meaningful incremental changes and have the desired impact that will last over time.
How will you address Malden’s affordable housing crisis?
The ability to afford housing is a challenge for many in our city, state and nationally. Malden has become very attractive due to multiple factors (proximity to Boston, accessibility to T and highways, housing price points, education system, diversity in population, etc.). I understand the discipline of Economics well, the law of supply and demand, and the various factors that contribute to determining market price. I also see where we have missed opportunities as a city and where we can address these blind spots.
As chair of the Malden CPC, I proactively reached out to organizations that are involved in affordable housing projects and offered the opportunity for those organizations to speak with the CPC to see if there are funding opportunities. As your Ward 3 City Councillor I will continue to look closely at the current housing vouchers and seize the opportunity to support residents who currently need these to stay in their homes. Addressing the affordable housing needs of those currently living in Malden will be my top priority. We have inadvertently displaced many through gentrification. We have an opportunity to stem that tide.
One such opportunity Malden missed is with the current 2,200 housing units being added by not having any inclusionary zoning ordinances in place. We added many at market rate, ”luxury” units and sped toward gentrification. We need to implement concrete ways to maintain affordability in our city without caving to large apartment complexes that promise few, if any, affordable units. If the city decides to follow the volume recommendations of MAPC and continue to develop an additional 4,000 at market rate housing units, it will be imperative to create a comprehensive plan. I will fight hard against such massive growth that is negatively impacting the cities funding and assessments and recommend we shift our development focus to commercial development as a means of providing much needed tax revenue. The downstream negative impacts we are experiencing now will need to be addressed by the next city councillor. I have a vested interest in doing what is best for Ward 3 and the city of Malden.
As Ward 3’s City Councillor, I will champion and facilitate what will be difficult conversations. I will highlight the barriers in our path and solution a plan for what we must act on. We need to be comprehensive in our approach. We need to address not only affordable housing but also the upstream and downstream impacts. We need to be very purposeful in how we legislate, manage budgets, improve our infrastructure and support the education of our children and more. Questions we need to answer are:
• How to best implement inclusionary zoning in Malden?
• What programs and grants can the city tap into?
• What programs and grants can individuals tap into and we help promote/educate?
• How do we effectively manage expiring housing vouchers?
• How do we help create employment opportunities by building commercial industry and the small business that typically surround those larger businesses?
• What opportunities exist to better manage expenses and existing revenues?
• What loopholes can we close? Where can we be more efficient?
My platform has always presented a holistic strategic approach. The Ward 3 City Councillor must be able to show a vested interest, not conflicts of interest. As a hands-on active member of the community and my 20+ years of senior project management experience of complex projects, I feel confident I can make a positive impact on how we move forward on this and other important topics to our constituents.
What are your long term plans for expanding tax revenue?
I want to see a renewed focus on commercial development. Malden is in the enviable position of having buildings that can support cornerstone commercial development. By attracting mid to large sized commercial enterprises, Malden will be able to support the myriad of small businesses we currently have. We can drive the tax revenue without negatively impacting our state school funding and we can make our public transportation options work for the city, not against it.
By basing our commercial development decisions on data and trends, we can look to build a commercial center that can withstand the peaks and valleys of our economy.
We should be measuring the current impact of the new housing units, the cannabis industry and future tax revenue from the retail spaces about to be filled on Pleasant street are having on the city balance sheet. We must ask questions such as, Has there been an increase in meals tax revenue as expected? What is the projected tax revenue increase from the 5 cannabis licenses available in the city? What will the tax revenue projections be for the many retail spaces on Pleasant and Exchange Street? These are key metrics to determining our tax revenue for the very near future. I have the education and experience to work with other city leaders in answering these questions and creating these and other key performance indicators essential in leading our great city.
Would you implement any changes around our city’s parking systems?
The city has just implemented meters, parking enforcement and is working on implementing a city-wide parking permit program. We should track the success of these initiatives and measure the success using revenue generation and resident feedback. Many great questions are being raised regarding the city-wide parking permit program. I will gather community input in a productive manner and make sure residents concerns are addressed as part of the solution.
Some infrastructure challenges that face our city are degraded roads, lead pipes, and gas leaks. What initiatives would you implement to address these issues?
I believe there may be an opportunity to be more efficient in planning roadwork such as repaving streets per block and mapping lead pipe replacement. I was honored to provide input for data gathering efforts and see it was included in a recent lead pipe presentation. My recommendation was to identify areas with the greatest concentration of children by leveraging data effectively. The recent lead pipe data assessment did just that!
Streets, sidewalks, safe travel these are critical issues that a City Councillor must address. These are matters I have worked hard to implement and support through the years. As your Ward 3 City Councillor I will continue that work and provide greater transparency for the residents, so folks know when to expect to see roadwork in their neighborhood.
What do you think should be done with the Malden hospital site?
The Malden Hospital site has been the focus of community discussion for many years. As an active resident, I have participated in these discussions for years. I support the community vision that has been developed by residents. A reasonably sized housing facility for seniors and veterans with interactive open space that ties into Fellsmere Park. This is a vision. The details and particulars of what the end result would be, requires planning, analysis and strong/collaborative negotiations. This approach is not only the community vision but also addresses a very real affordable housing need that will continue to grow over the next 10 years. This is an opportunity for us to truly address affordable housing and meet the demand of those needed housing options in our city at a specific location.
While we can meet a real demand at this specific location, we must continue to seek ways to have other types of affordable housing through other means like adaptive reuse which does not necessarily take away green space. For example, could we create ordinances that restrict “tenement” housing scenarios and create real Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in areas where they can be accommodated in compliance to code. These units provide opportunities for multi-generational community housing which match the way many of us grew up and is a scenario that still exists today. As your Ward 3 City Councillor, I will tirelessly explore solutions from different sources and be tenacious in driving critical conversations that lead to real action with my colleagues. There are many who have knowledge of the issues. It is important we have city councillors who are working with each other to solve these problems and can bring critical thought in reviewing recommendations from paid analysts.
Now that Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana, would you encourage dispensaries in Malden? What would you do with the revenue?
There is the opportunity for 5 licensed marijuana dispensaries within Malden. I support the current Cannabis Commission and their amazing work in vetting applicants for these licenses. As a City Councillor I will respect the hard work of this commission. When they present their findings to the city council and I will respectfully ask the tough questions if/when needed. The revenue has been set to be distributed between public health and education programs by ordinance. I will work with my colleagues to align the revenue to support programs within that framework.
What is your vision for promoting civic engagement and increasing voter turnout in our city?
Promoting civic engagement and increasing voter turnout are important to me. There needs to be a major catalyst driving people to the polls. This is a journey that is achieved over time, with dedicated effort and requires a variety of methods and willingness to try new ways of engaging. Some ideas I will provide as Ward 3 City Councillor:
• Continuing to be approachable, visible and engaged as part of the community. Attending and volunteering where appropriate at events hosted by community groups
• Sharing and disseminating information regularly through a range of communication channels
• Providing opportunities and safe environments to ask questions and learn about issues and discussions taking place
• Effectively conveying the “Why” it is important to be engaged
• Proactively sharing opportunities how to be involved and the varying degrees of effort required
• Having a variety of office hours (varied by day of week and time of day) to provide the most flexibility to those you serve
• Regularly seeking input and feedback on specific topic
• Seeking to solve problems through a lens that brings forth creativity and leaves no room for placing blame
• Studying multiple languages to better communicate natively with residents.
When leaders are able to demonstrate and communicate the value of civic engagement to constituents and how together we can solve problems and shape the future of Malden, new and existing voters will, volunteer, engage and vote.
How can we increase citizen engagement in city council meetings?
Citizen engagement during city council meetings is important and possible. I supported implementing open comment and am glad this exists today. At the same time, we should not always expect people to come to the elected officials solely during this time. I know individuals who cannot attend due to family, work and health reasons. It is important for the Ward 3 City Councillor to be able to speak directly with the constituents. I will hold regular Ward 3 community meetings at differing times and locations to accommodate the residents of the ward. I will remain available, approachable and attentive to the residents of Ward 3.
Thank you MaldenVotes for the opportunity to answer these extremely thoughtful and relevant questions. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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