2019 Somerville Mayor

Incumbents are indicated with *

Candidates proceeding to the municipal election on November 5th are indicated with †

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About the Candidate

Policy Proposals

Additional Questions

Joseph A. Curtatone*†
(pdf of answers)

Kenneth Vanbuskirk
(no answers submitted)

Marianne Walles†
(pdf of answers)

About the Candidate

1. How do you move around your community and get to where you need to go?

2. What is a particularly dangerous problem or location in your community for people walking, biking, taking transit, or for people with disabilities that you'd like to see addressed?

3. Why do you think people who care about walking, biking, transit, and mobility issues should vote for you?

Joe_Curtatone.jpg

Joseph A. Curtatone

I do not use public transit as much as I would like. I use my car to drive my four sons to school, sports, and a lot of appointments both in and beyond Somerville and then I get myself to and from work with it. Once at work, I also walk to a lot of local meetings in Somerville. I sometimes take the Red Line but more frequently I take the Orange Line at Assembly, which is near my neighborhood, to Boston for professional and political meetings and events. For instance, I took the Orange Line home after speaking at Michelle Wu’s UnFairHikes Rally on June 30.

Somerville has many dangerous locations that my administration is working systematically to address such as McGrath Hwy, which must be grounded and redone on a human scale, and Powder House Rotary, which must be made safer. But we also need systemic change to ensure safety for all. For this, lower driving speeds are key. My administration dropped the citywide speed limit to 25 mph, added numerous 20 mph safety zones, and we’ve steadily altered our roadways to induce slower speeds. Lower speeds save lives. We must expand traffic calming including through road diets with protected bike lanes.

Because in addition to my deep passion for mobility issues and persistent public (and not so public) advocacy on this, I get things done. I listen, learn, and join with community members to fight like hell for outcomes that rarely come easy. Under my administration, the Green Line Extension is finally under construction. The Assembly Row T stop is open. The Community Path extension is coming. Bike lanes, better lighting, and bright crosswalks cover the city. We are investing in and determined to reach Vision Zero. But we have much more to do. A vote for me will keep the momentum.

Marianne Walles

I generally move around the city by walking, train and driving.

One of the problems I see is the lack of clear pedestrian cross walks in some parts of the city.

I want to make sure that we address safety issues across the city, in particular the areas that have gone unattended.

Top

Policy Proposals

1. How will you ensure implementation of the infrastructure changes needed to slow traffic on your community's streets, and improve crosswalks and intersections to make them safer for people who are walking and using mobility assistive devices?

2. How will you improve the reach, frequency, and quality of public transit in Somerville?

3. How will you ensure fast-tracked implementation of a city-wide network of off-street paths and protected bike lanes on major thoroughfares and connecting streets that are safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities?

Joe_Curtatone.jpg

Joseph A. Curtatone

We have 93 miles of roadway, 6.5M square feet of sidewalks, and 3,200 curb ramps that my administration catalogs and prioritizes for improvements. We’ve developed systems to stretch our limited resources. Accessible ramps and sidewalks now go in with every repaving job. Preemptive maintenance of roads saves money that can go to traffic calming measures like chicanes, bumpouts, and street trees. But we’ve also invested millions to transform east Broadway, Beacon Street, and other roads to bike, ped, and assistive device-friendly corridors, while focusing heavily on traffic calming infrastructure citywide. This takes money, but there was a time when we couldn’t invest. My administration’s recognized sound fiscal management makes that now possible--and expected. As a result, with the construction of the Green Line Extension, my administration is taking this once in a lifetime chance to make major changes to how people move through and use the streets and sidewalks in the neighborhoods where new stations are being built such as Union Square, Gilman Square, Magoun Square, and Ball Square--all toward the goal of supporting safe, multimodal travel.

I don't think it is an overstatement to say that under my administration Somerville has led our region, and indeed is a national leader, in improving the reach, frequency, and quality of public transit, thanks to our creation of the first new T station in 27 years at Assembly Row, and now the construction of the Green Line Extension. When GLX opens in 2021, 85% of Somervillians will be within walking distance of a train station. But bus riders also need fast, reliable transit. So in addition to the long and expensive fight to get the Green Line Extension built, Somerville has also been testing Bus Rapid Transit lanes. We took a first step at this in 2017 by installing a dedicated bus lane along Prospect Street leading into Union Square. The lane has shaved about six minutes off the travel time of the CT2 bus. This summer we will be taking the next step by creating a dedicated bus lane along Broadway in Winter Hill. The lanes will run from Magoun Square to McGrath Highway, which will help streamline the trip for the MBTA's 80 and 101 routes. And in 2020, we hope to add another dedicated bus lane to help buses on the 87 and 88 routes get through traffic in Teele and Davis Squares.

Somerville's Community Path is a great resource that thousands of city and regional residents use, but it ends at Lowell St. In recent years, there was a lot of back and forth over whether the state would help extend the path alongside the Green Line Extension. Along with advocates, I have always advocated that the Community Path be included with GLX, and now we know that it will happen, putting this off-street path all the way through Somerville. The protected lanes on Beacon Street are nearing completion, others have been added more swiftly on Washington St. and Park St., and we are looking at protected lanes on Somerville Ave. and Powder House Blvd. This is part of the process of remaking our streets for multimodal transit, which we have been a regional leader in pursuing. This year we will invest several million in Vision Zero projects while developing a Bike Network Plan that will guide and speed future efforts. As the GLX forces huge changes to our streetscape and layout, Somerville has a whole new set of opportunities to reduce parking and promote biking and walking across our city, and under my administration we will not miss that chance.

Marianne Walles

I would ensure that cross walks are visible. I would also like to increase the amounts of cross walks. There are many parts of the city, especially in school zones where there needs to be more cross walks.

I would advocate for more bus lanes within the city. I would also advocate for improvement to our transit system.

There needs to be more community conversations. Currently, there are many contentious feelings between many groups about the bike lanes.

Top

Additional Questions

Click on the categories below for the complete question asked. Click on any answer with a * for further explanation of the candidate's stance.

Do you support:

1. Vision Zero

1. Vision Zero is an approach which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries and has been adopted by Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, and many other cities across the country. Do you support the principles of Vision Zero policies and funding for their rapid implementation?

click outside popup to close

2. State law allowing automated enforcement

2. One key strategy that has been proven to effectively reduce speeding, improve safety, and remove racial bias in traffic enforcement in other states and countries is automated enforcement (i.e. speed cameras and red light cameras). Do you support S.1376, An Act relative to automated enforcement, which if passed would authorize cities and towns in Massachusetts to opt into the use of automated enforcement? To see the full text of the bill, visit malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S1376

click outside popup to close

3. Bike Network Plan

3. Do you support the implementation of improved bike facilities identified in your community's Bike Network Plan or do you support the creation of a Bike Network Plan if none already exists?

click outside popup to close

4. Age-friendly walking conditions

4. Do you support creating age-friendly walking conditions in your community -- an issue raised by many seniors as critical to their ability to 'age in community'? If yes, how?

click outside popup to close

(more below)

 

Joseph A. Curtatone

Strongly Support

Strongly Support*

Joe_Curtatone.jpg

Joseph A. Curtatone

Somerville has a process in place to review the use of any new surveillance technology, which provides a safeguard against applications with unforeseen consequences. Automated enforcement can be an effective tool in addressing problem intersections and roadways. Yet we also need to consider the potential effects of constant, pervasive enforcement. It is far easier to be surgical in our application of these methods at the local level, provided an additional layer of review is in place. Any state bill should ensure transparency and public input are part of the process.

click outside popup to close

Strongly Support*

Joe_Curtatone.jpg

Joseph A. Curtatone

We are currently drafting a bike network plan for the entire city. The funding for it was part of our recently passed budget.

click outside popup to close

Strongly Support

 

Marianne Walles

Strongly Support*

Marianne Walles

Any loss of life or serious injury is deeply concerning.

click outside popup to close

Strongly Support

Somewhat Support

Strongly Support*

Marianne Walles

I would like to see the pedestrian lights be timed longer, this would allow more time for people to cross the streets. Many of the main intersections the light changes before people are safely across the street.

click outside popup to close

 

Do you support:

5. Restriction of parking for bus-only lanes

5. Do you support the restriction of on-street parking during rush hour in order to create dedicated bus lanes on certain major thoroughfares where bus riders experience significant delays due to traffic congestion?

click outside popup to close

6. New revenue sources

6. Do you support exploring new ways of raising revenue to provide Somerville with more tools to improve conditions for people walking, using mobility assistive devices, biking, and using public transit (e.g. increasing the gas tax, implementing congestion pricing, increasing fees on Uber/Lyft)? If yes, please give examples that interest you.

click outside popup to close

7. Dynamic parking meter pricing

7. Do you support the rollout of dynamic parking meter pricing in business districts, which would increase meter rates during periods of increased demand, to free up on-street parking and reduce cars "cruising" for open spaces?

click outside popup to close

8. Raising residential parking permit fee

8. Do you support raising the annual fee for residential parking permits?

click outside popup to close

9. Reducing/ eliminating MBTA fares

9. Do you support reducing or eliminating MBTA fares for people with low income?

click outside popup to close

 

Joseph A. Curtatone

Strongly Support

Strongly Support*

Joe_Curtatone.jpg

Joseph A. Curtatone

Massachusetts is facing a traffic and transit crisis because the state has refused to properly plan or invest for the infrastructure our economy demands, and has prevented towns and cities from filling the gap. I have joined dozens of local leaders in demanding more tools, leadership, and flexibility from the state. That means raising the gas tax, implementing congestion pricing, increasing fees and regulations on ridesharing companies, and allowing regional ballot initiatives so cities and towns can stop begging the state for leadership and solve problems on their own.

click outside popup to close

Strongly Support

Strongly Support*

Joe_Curtatone.jpg

Joseph A. Curtatone

My city already charges a $40 annual fee for residential parking permits, with exemptions made for seniors and those with valid handicapped placards.

click outside popup to close

Strongly Support

Marianne Walles

Somewhat Support

Somewhat Support

Strongly Oppose*

Marianne Walles

I am concerned about adding more cost to residents.

click outside popup to close

Strongly Oppose*

Marianne Walles

Residents of Somerville continuously face increasing expenses that make it difficult to live here.

click outside popup to close

Strongly Support*

Marianne Walles

For many people the MBTA is the only way to get to jobs and medical care. I would strongly support this.

click outside popup to close

Top

About the Candidate

1. How do you move around your community and get to where you need to go?
Joseph A. Curtatone
I do not use public transit as much as I would like. I use my car to drive my four sons to school, sports, and a lot of appointments both in and beyond Somerville and then I get myself to and from work with it. Once at work, I also walk to a lot of local meetings in Somerville. I sometimes take the Red Line but more frequently I take the Orange Line at Assembly, which is near my neighborhood, to Boston for professional and political meetings and events. For instance, I took the Orange Line home after speaking at Michelle Wu’s UnFairHikes Rally on June 30.
Marianne Walles
I generally move around the city by walking, train and driving.
2. What is a particularly dangerous problem or location in your community for people walking, biking, taking transit, or for people with disabilities that you’d like to see addressed?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Somerville has many dangerous locations that my administration is working systematically to address such as McGrath Hwy, which must be grounded and redone on a human scale, and Powder House Rotary, which must be made safer. But we also need systemic change to ensure safety for all. For this, lower driving speeds are key. My administration dropped the citywide speed limit to 25 mph, added numerous 20 mph safety zones, and we’ve steadily altered our roadways to induce slower speeds. Lower speeds save lives. We must expand traffic calming including through road diets with protected bike lanes.
Marianne Walles
One of the problems I see is the lack of clear pedestrian cross walks in some parts of the city.
3. Why do you think people who care about walking, biking, transit, and mobility issues should vote for you?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Because in addition to my deep passion for mobility issues and persistent public (and not so public) advocacy on this, I get things done. I listen, learn, and join with community members to fight like hell for outcomes that rarely come easy. Under my administration, the Green Line Extension is finally under construction. The Assembly Row T stop is open. The Community Path extension is coming. Bike lanes, better lighting, and bright crosswalks cover the city. We are investing in and determined to reach Vision Zero. But we have much more to do. A vote for me will keep the momentum.
Marianne Walles
I want to make sure that we address safety issues across the city, in particular the areas that have gone unattended.

Policy Proposals

1. How will you ensure implementation of the infrastructure changes needed to slow traffic on your community’s streets, and improve crosswalks and intersections to make them safer for people who are walking and using mobility assistive devices?
Joseph A. Curtatone
We have 93 miles of roadway, 6.5M square feet of sidewalks, and 3,200 curb ramps that my administration catalogs and prioritizes for improvements. We’ve developed systems to stretch our limited resources. Accessible ramps and sidewalks now go in with every repaving job. Preemptive maintenance of roads saves money that can go to traffic calming measures like chicanes, bumpouts, and street trees. But we’ve also invested millions to transform east Broadway, Beacon Street, and other roads to bike, ped, and assistive device-friendly corridors, while focusing heavily on traffic calming infrastructure citywide. This takes money, but there was a time when we couldn’t invest. My administration’s recognized sound fiscal management makes that now possible--and expected. As a result, with the construction of the Green Line Extension, my administration is taking this once in a lifetime chance to make major changes to how people move through and use the streets and sidewalks in the neighborhoods where new stations are being built such as Union Square, Gilman Square, Magoun Square, and Ball Square--all toward the goal of supporting safe, multimodal travel.
Marianne Walles
I would ensure that cross walks are visible. I would also like to increase the amounts of cross walks. There are many parts of the city, especially in school zones where there needs to be more cross walks.
2. How will you improve the reach, frequency, and quality of public transit in Somerville?
Joseph A. Curtatone
I don't think it is an overstatement to say that under my administration Somerville has led our region, and indeed is a national leader, in improving the reach, frequency, and quality of public transit, thanks to our creation of the first new T station in 27 years at Assembly Row, and now the construction of the Green Line Extension. When GLX opens in 2021, 85% of Somervillians will be within walking distance of a train station. But bus riders also need fast, reliable transit. So in addition to the long and expensive fight to get the Green Line Extension built, Somerville has also been testing Bus Rapid Transit lanes. We took a first step at this in 2017 by installing a dedicated bus lane along Prospect Street leading into Union Square. The lane has shaved about six minutes off the travel time of the CT2 bus. This summer we will be taking the next step by creating a dedicated bus lane along Broadway in Winter Hill. The lanes will run from Magoun Square to McGrath Highway, which will help streamline the trip for the MBTA's 80 and 101 routes. And in 2020, we hope to add another dedicated bus lane to help buses on the 87 and 88 routes get through traffic in Teele and Davis Squares.
Marianne Walles
I would advocate for more bus lanes within the city. I would also advocate for improvement to our transit system.
3. How will you ensure fast-tracked implementation of a city-wide network of off-street paths and protected bike lanes on major thoroughfares and connecting streets that are safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Somerville's Community Path is a great resource that thousands of city and regional residents use, but it ends at Lowell St. In recent years, there was a lot of back and forth over whether the state would help extend the path alongside the Green Line Extension. Along with advocates, I have always advocated that the Community Path be included with GLX, and now we know that it will happen, putting this off-street path all the way through Somerville. The protected lanes on Beacon Street are nearing completion, others have been added more swiftly on Washington St. and Park St., and we are looking at protected lanes on Somerville Ave. and Powder House Blvd. This is part of the process of remaking our streets for multimodal transit, which we have been a regional leader in pursuing. This year we will invest several million in Vision Zero projects while developing a Bike Network Plan that will guide and speed future efforts. As the GLX forces huge changes to our streetscape and layout, Somerville has a whole new set of opportunities to reduce parking and promote biking and walking across our city, and under my administration we will not miss that chance.
Marianne Walles
There needs to be more community conversations. Currently, there are many contentious feelings between many groups about the bike lanes.

Additional Questions

1. Vision Zero is an approach which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries and has been adopted by Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, and many other cities across the country. Do you support the principles of Vision Zero policies and funding for their rapid implementation?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
Marianne Walles
Strongly Support
Any loss of life or serious injury is deeply concerning.
2. One key strategy that has been proven to effectively reduce speeding, improve safety, and remove racial bias in traffic enforcement in other states and countries is automated enforcement (i.e. speed cameras and red light cameras). Do you support S.1376, An Act relative to automated enforcement, which if passed would authorize cities and towns in Massachusetts to opt into the use of automated enforcement? To see the full text of the bill, go here.
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
Somerville has a process in place to review the use of any new surveillance technology, which provides a safeguard against applications with unforeseen consequences. Automated enforcement can be an effective tool in addressing problem intersections and roadways. Yet we also need to consider the potential effects of constant, pervasive enforcement. It is far easier to be surgical in our application of these methods at the local level, provided an additional layer of review is in place. Any state bill should ensure transparency and public input are part of the process.
Marianne Walles
Strongly Support
3. Do you support the implementation of improved bike facilities identified in your community’s Bike Network Plan or do you support the creation of a Bike Network Plan if none already exists?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
We are currently drafting a bike network plan for the entire city. The funding for it was part of our recently passed budget.
Marianne Walles
Somewhat Support
4. Do you support creating age-friendly walking conditions in your community -- an issue raised by many seniors as critical to their ability to “age in community”? If yes, how?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
Marianne Walles
Strongly Support
I would like to see the pedestrian lights be timed longer, this would allow more time for people to cross the streets. Many of the main intersections the light changes before people are safely across the street.
5. Do you support the restriction of on-street parking during rush hour in order to create dedicated bus lanes on certain major thoroughfares where bus riders experience significant delays due to traffic congestion?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
Marianne Walles
Somewhat Support
6. Do you support exploring new ways of raising revenue to provide Somerville with more tools to improve conditions for people walking, using mobility assistive devices, biking, and using public transit (e.g. increasing the gas tax, implementing congestion pricing, increasing fees on Uber/Lyft)? If yes, please give examples that interest you.
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
Massachusetts is facing a traffic and transit crisis because the state has refused to properly plan or invest for the infrastructure our economy demands, and has prevented towns and cities from filling the gap. I have joined dozens of local leaders in demanding more tools, leadership, and flexibility from the state. That means raising the gas tax, implementing congestion pricing, increasing fees and regulations on ridesharing companies, and allowing regional ballot initiatives so cities and towns can stop begging the state for leadership and solve problems on their own.
Marianne Walles
Somewhat Support
7. Do you support the rollout of dynamic parking meter pricing in business districts, which would increase meter rates during periods of increased demand, to free up on-street parking and reduce cars “cruising” for open spaces?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
Marianne Walles
Strongly Oppose
I am concerned about adding more cost to residents.
8. Do you support raising the annual fee for residential parking permits?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
My city already charges a $40 annual fee for residential parking permits, with exemptions made for seniors and those with valid handicapped placards.
Marianne Walles
Strongly Oppose
Residents of Somerville continuously face increasing expenses that make it difficult to live here.
9. Do you support reducing or eliminating MBTA fares for people with low income?
Joseph A. Curtatone
Strongly Support
Marianne Walles
Strongly Support
For many people the MBTA is the only way to get to jobs and medical care. I would strongly support this.