Select Board Candidates

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PNF

From: 

Do you believe Natick’s current form of local government (representative Town
Meeting with a Town Administrator) is serving the best interests of its residents?
If not, what improvements would you consider?

Natick is changing and we have to understand how the residents’ needs are changing with it. One of the reasons I am running for Select Board is to bring more people to the table and get more voices and perspectives heard in town government. Our current system of government has a tendency to create barriers to that engagement. Who has the time to participate, who gets appointed, and who gets nominated can severely limit how representative our town government truly is. I am open to hearing new perspectives that explore the best possible ways to address these challenges. There may be opportunities to consider our town government structure, including how process improvements within the current structure can better work for all Natick residents.

PNF

From: 

What process should Natick take to determine what changes, if any, are warranted
to its form of government? How will you support identifying, evaluating and
implementing proposed changes?

I would be wholly supportive of a group of residents who were to study this topic and present options, with support, to address the changing needs of our town. If we were to pursue any changes in town government, I would want diverse perspectives represented so that we may learn what folks need for the government to be accessible to them. Any committee that would be designated to research and explore this issue would need to include folks from different communities that call Natick home. Outreach work prior to even designating such a committee would be critical to bring new people into this process, rather than only relying on some of the same people that are usually looked to for these kinds of committees.

PNF

From: 

Fun fact: What’s your favorite place to visit (outside of Natick)?

My family and I like to consider ourselves foodies and when not enjoying the great eateries in Natick, we love grabbing food in downtown Framingham and will drive any place for a great meal!

PNF

From: 

Natick recently formed an Equity Taskforce and the Town is currently working to develop a Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan. What role do you think the Natick Select Board plays in local conversations about social justice?

The Select Board can help set the tone of municipal discourse and has the ability to prioritize certain issues, including issues relating to equity and social justice. But it is the Select Board’s job to also apply both a social justice and equity lens to the broad range of issues before them.

As a Chief Diversity Officer, I know first hand that no real organizational culture change can happen without the chief executive and leadership of an organization being on board and actively leading the charge. The work of the Equity Taskforce and the REMAP process will only take root in Natick if the Select Board champions that work through consistent communication and follow through.

This is one of the principal reasons why I am running. Community partners are already doing some of the work to engage residents in these conversations and the Select Board should be a part of it.

PNF

From: 

As a Select Board Member, how will you personally reach out to and work with BIPOC, the LGBTQIA community and other minority groups in Natick?

As a BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and other minority group person, I’m in a unique position to see, through my sample size of one, the impact of current outreach. If you don’t choose to specifically involve yourself, there is very little, if any, outreach. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The pandemic has had some silver linings. Through tools like Zoom, social media, informational websites, and translation software participation in local government and community events is possible for those navigating childcare, work, language barriers, and new-ness to these systems. I would leverage these tools as well as direct engagement with community events to connect with residents. The first thing I learned in my social work training is to meet the client where they are. It’s up to the Select Board to go to these communities, not the other way around.

PNF

From: 

Fun fact: What is your favorite DPW vehicle?

Recycling truck. All day, everyday! Automated side-arm and environmentalism...always! :)

PNF

From: 

In her last presentation to Town Meeting, Natick's previous Town Administrator shared a bleak financial forecast for the Town if it continued recent spending trends. What is your perspective on the Town's long term fiscal health and its ability to provide consistent or improved municipal services?

In recent history, Natick hasn’t had enough collaboration between town departments. “One Natick” was raised, but critical budgeting decisions are still happening in silos. Long term fiscal health requires collaboration and a sharing of the challenges as well as the opportunities.

PNF

From: 

Would you vote to support putting an operational override on the ballot in Fall 2021? Why or why not?

I support the idea that the public should have the opportunity to vote on an override and believe, given the town’s financials, an override may be needed to continue funding critical services. That said, if elected to the Select Board, I want to be sure that the override we ask the public to consider is balanced and fair. I am concerned about the long-term impact to our children especially those who are most vulnerable -- and the town as a whole if we don’t make smart investments. I also understand the concerns of those worried about increasing taxes. I’m a social worker and my experience tells me that we need to do better connecting people to resources and programs to offset the burden of certain costs. It’s our job as leaders in the community to do so.

PNF

From: 

How will you - as a Select Board Member - work with your colleagues on the Board, the Town Administrator, the Superintendent of Schools, and the School Committee to develop a community-wide budget that supports the priorities of Natick residents?

Collaboration and communication from the start. In order for town departments to work together, they have to have a shared vision. That vision should encompass our values as a community and has to include compromise and a deep understanding of the needs of all of our residents. Important services can’t go by the wayside. We need to prioritize and think creatively about solutions to extend our dollars, and also look at things we’ve invested in the past that may no longer work. These important conversations can only happen when all departments come together, which I believe the Select Board should facilitate.

PNF

From: 

Fun fact: What's your go-to Natick pizza place?

Brooklyn pizza is one of Natick’s great minority owned businesses. Plus my wife is quite partial since she grew up in Brooklyn :)

PNF

From: 

Who are you and why are you running?

My name is Guimel DeCarvalho. I moved my family to Natick six years ago and I have been serving the people of Natick through my work on the Finance Committee, as a founding member of Natick Is United, and recently as an appointed member to the Natick Equity Task Force. I’m running to bring an equity focus to the work of the Select Board. Natick is a beautiful & diverse community in so many ways. I believe that my personal & professional experience and expertise can be particularly helpful for thoughtful decision-making that reflects the needs of all Natick residents.

PNF

From: 

What do you think the role of a Select Board member is and how do you plan to improve Natick in this capacity?

The role of a Select Board member is to represent the values and priorities of the town. The Select Board collaborates with the heads of town departments, community organizations, and our public school system, in responding to the needs of Natick residents. I plan to focus on a strong budget to support excellent schools, infrastructure, and services that meet our town’s needs and bring an equity focus to all of our town’s strategic decision making.

PNF

From: 

Fun fact: What's your favorite Natick park or trail?

My family recently explored the new Navy Yard Field & Playground. The playground equipment is interesting for all different ages, and the open field and paved loop is great for our kiddo to explore. We are also looking forward to the nearby rail trail as a safe way for pedestrians to access the amenities & shops of Natick Center.

350 MetroWest

From: 

There is a Climate Crisis - some towns have declared it a Climate Emergency (although Natick has yet to engage with this). What can the Select Board do to address this, and how do you see that unfolding if you are elected?

Sustainability and environmental justice are so important to our future world, let alone our town. I support all necessary steps to increase our sustainability and reduce our carbon consumption. As a member of the DPW submicommittee on Finance Committee I got the chance to hear the great work we are doing in electric car charging stations, our composting program started by our Sustainability Coordinator Jillian Wilson Martin, the water smart program, and I support investments in things like electric vehicles for our town fleet in stages as our budget allows. These are important to invest in now so they can save us much more later.

English Language Parent Advisory Council (ELPAC)

From: 

The amount of ELL families is increasing every year in our community. How do you think this will impact needs and priorities for Natick in the short, medium and long term?

This is something I have first hand experience with coming to this country at 5 years old, learning English as a second language, and being the translator for my parents so they could participate and engage with my schooling. Thinking about experiences like mine are so important to think about when you are thinking about applying an equity focus to strategic decision making. It’s about thinking about what barriers may be in the way for folks that others may not necessarily think of as barriers. If we really want to integrate and make all communities feel welcome in our town, our future priorities need to take this into account. That may mean investing in translation services, translation software, and then it’s thinking beyond that initial stage. It’s not just language differences you need to think about. It’s experiences, what social capital, what relationships and connections might be missing or might be barriers for participation in our town. This is something I think about as a Vice President of Human Resources,a social worker, and as a Chief Diversity Officer, looking at policies, forms, and procedures and shaping them in a way that makes them the most accessible across government, our businesses, and our community at large.

Natick Resident

From: 

Would you support a study or examination of the need for a police presence in Natick Schools? There seems to be a national trend towards a police-free schools movement, which seeks to shift schools’ disciplinary cultures away from control and punishment and towards a more supportive model.

I know this has been a frequent topic of conversation and it’s important to talk about it. I understand that there are strong feelings on all sides of this issue, and my intent is to address it in a way that balances the interests at stake. I know first hand as a co-located social worker with the Southeast station of the Los Angeles Police Department in Watts, CA that law enforcement is often asked to do too much. Often our society does not invest enough in the support services needed to truly provide a social safety net. Whether it’s investment in mental health services, community activities, educational programs, or conscientious urban planning these social investments have a direct net effect on our physical safety in a community. I also know from many conversations with Natick Police Chief James Hicks and Superintendent Anna Nolin, and as they stated on a Natick Is United Racial Justice Panel this summer, that the mission of Natick’s School Resource officers are to build collaboration, positive experiences and trust, and understand the role of law enforcement as the guardian and helper, rather than the enforcer. It’s important to have this conversation as a community and determine if this is the way we want to achieve those goals.