Gloria Pascual is one of three candidates running for two Framingham City Council At-Large seats. Below are her answers to a District2Framingham.com questionnaire. Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.
Why are you running for the At-Large City Council seat?
Our city is still new, trying to figure out how things work and how to get things done. The council should reflect the values of the community and the people of the community and it should be focused on putting progress over politics. I’m running to make that happen – to help the City Council get on a more productive course to get the work done, to build bridges, to include more people in the process and work better with the admin. And mayor. To be transparent and make progress. I will make that happen. That’s my track record. I work together to make progress for all the people and to bring all their voices to the table.
What would you like to tell voters about your qualifications?
I earned a Master’s Degree in Applied Sociology from UMASS Boston and a graduate certificate from Boston University. I served as a member of the Framingham Special Education Advisory Committee helping bilingual families navigate the special education system, and then I became Vice President of the Framingham High School PTO. At the same time I was elected to Town Meeting representing Precinct 18 and served as Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Education.
As a Co-Founder of Framingham Families for Racial Equity in Education (FFREE) I led efforts to raise the achievement of all students while eliminating racial inequities. In 2017 I ran for School Committee and won 62% of the vote to represent District 8. I was elected Vice-Chair of the School Committee. I am the Chair of the Racial Equity Subcommittee and serve on the Student Achievement and Accountability Subcommittee.
I have worked in healthcare for over 15 years now, overseeing programs and services delivered by registered nurses and social workers that support the needs of the elderly and people with disabilities across the state. Most recently I have worked as the Director of Volunteer Services, Community Relations, Spiritual Care and the Telecommunications departments at UMASS Memorial Health Care in Marlborough.
What if any are your plans to keep in touch with residents in the district – to seek their input and communicate your votes and other activities?
I would like to advocate and work with the City administration on a two-way communication system. I truly believe that communication is such an important part of having a successful City government for all the residents of Framingham. This system should include all forms of communication, online, email, text, phone and walk-in hours for everyone to learn about what is occuring in our city and for the city to hear from all the residents. This is essential to public participation and involvement. As the Vice Chair of the School Committee I am accessible to anyone via my cell phone 508-283-0564 and email. I mentor several students and clubs in our city. I meet and speak with residents daily on all types of situations from housing, traffic, schools, budgets, access to healthcare, special education, attend parent meetings providing translation and interpreting services. I am always happy to make myself available.
What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? What are you plans to address those?
Politics gets in the way of progress. That’s been a big problem since we’ve become a city. The council can change that by working better with the administration and mayor – focusing on getting things done instead of getting headlines. Also, the City Council votes on all zoning changes and plays a major role in structuring the zoning. The council should be working on zoning that preserves the character of neighborhoods. I am opposed to the kind of tall dense projects developers are trying to push into residential neighborhoods. We need to slow the residential development down and work within a structured plan and vision for our city. We must create a strategic plan that will outline all our areas of opportunities.
How is our city government working? What (if anything) do you believe needs improvement?
When the Town of Framingham voted to become a city on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, we voted for a form of government that will take on bold ideas and make progress in a more timely manner. We have several areas of opportunities here are just two - I see Framingham’s diversity as an underutilized asset. As a City Councilor I plan to inspire and recruit more residents to serve on boards and commissions. With my knowledge and first-hand experience working with many segments of the population, I will bring a broader perspective to the Council. I have expertise in business, education, and healthcare, as well as with students, families, seniors, and people with disabilities. As a fluent Spanish speaker and the only At-Large Candidate who lives on the southside of Framingham, I bring critical skills and a broader perspective to the Council which will help all residents feel better represented.
We have to focus on progress not politics, that’s why the economic development subcommittee should work more closely with the economic development department, the planning board and the citizen participation officer. An action plan should be in place with a timeline.
What if any role does the City Council have to play in dealing with national political issues such as immigration and gun control?
No local government is too small to take part in issues that affect us both locally and nationally, such as working with our legislative delegation to bring ideas from the community to the people who can vote and institute policy at the federal level, like Ed Markey, Katherine Clark, Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Spilka, and Reps. Gentile, Lewis and Robinson.
One of the areas I am very passionate about is reversing climate change and protecting the environment. Our City’s entire leadership team has to work together to protect our open spaces and natural resources and to make Framingham a greener community. As your Councilor At-Large, I will:
- Proactively face the imminent recycling crisis resulting from China’s refusal to accept recyclables. This is happening right now. We have to find new ways to dispose of “recyclables” to protect the environment while we also protect taxpayers from huge cost increases. I plan to advocate for a government-citizen committee to focus on the environment. This group needs to be permanent and work with the Sustainability Coordinator to take on multiple environmental issues.
- Propose a solar policy that when the city repairs any roofs on municipal buildings they include solar panels and/or alternative energy sources on the replacements.
- Consider a policy to introduce hybrid vehicles into the municipal fleet as vehicles are turned over.
- Hold companies responsible for cleaning and repurposing sites that they have polluted.
Traffic and transportation infrastructure are among the most pressing issues facing eastern Massachusetts. Do you have any thoughts about city government’s role in dealing with traffic, transit, and pedestrian/bicyclist issues in the District 2 area specifically and Framingham in general?
One of the greatest concerns of everyday Framingham residents, regardless of how in-tune they are with other issues, is traffic. It is a problem across our city. As your Councilor At-Large, I will: Help educate residents about the public transportation options available in our city. Public transportation options are available but they are not as well known as they could be. Work with our legislators and the Mayor on transportation options for commuters who will be greatly impacted by the Mass Pike Construction.
This will include: Pursuing a construction reduction in Mass Pike tolls, Seeking additional private commuter services, promoting carpooling, advocating for safe bike routes and lanes, seek increased funding to expand the MWRTA bus service on Saturdays and to add service on Sundays. Push for improvements to the Framingham train station working with the Mayor and our legislators. The Framingham train station is a high-volume station that can be difficult to navigate. Our residents need quality transportation especially with upcoming construction on the Mass Pike which will last 10 years. This requires immediate attention and ongoing focus.
What’s the best way for voters to find out more about your candidacy? (Web site, Facebook page, etc.)
What else if anything would you like to tell the residents of District 2?
I was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts alongside four siblings in a diverse community with many resources that I was lucky to benefit from. I learned about community service from my mother who has worked at the local food pantry for decades serving residents and families in need.
At the age of nine, my grandmother came to live with us in Cambridge. She spoke only Spanish. Therefore, my responsibility was to take grandma to all her appointments to interpret and translate for her. Her experience helped me understand the value of a community coming together to lift its people up.
I learned to honor the service of our military from my father who served in Vietnam and my grandfather who served in the United States Army in the Korean War.
I bring fresh ideas and a broad perspective to the Council and I am focused on getting things done. I am running for Councilor At-Large to build greater momentum to help our city evolve and realize its potential.
My platform is bold. It is ambitious. I am confident that we can make great things happen if we focus on the work with a team approach and shared vision. As a new city we are still learning, so we have to be a bit more tolerant and patient but we also need to be accountable and get the work done.
For District 2 I want to make sure the council approves funding in the budget annually to protect the Sudbury River and Lake Cochituate from invasive weed infestations that threaten the health of these incredible natural resources.
District 2, I ask for 1 of your 2 Votes on Tuesday November 5th for City Council At Large.
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