Kit Collins for Medford City Council
Kit Collins for Medford City Council
What I’ll Fight For
1. Housing affordability and supporting renters
Amid the region-wide surge in housing costs, we need to be proactive about keeping Medford an affordable place to live. This is an issue that touches every neighborhood – whether you're an owner-occupier, a renter, someone aspiring to rent or own for the first time, or someone looking to downsize in place, everyone is feeling the effects of a housing costs going up and up. And as a renter, I want to feel that City Hall is looking out for folks who rent their homes. Most tenants know firsthand the anxiety that comes from the looming threat of rent increases. We can't sit by and let folks be displaced out of our community.
To contend with displacement, gentrification and lack of affordable housing, we need to think short-term and long-term at the same time. I will advocate for increasing the resources of the Office of Community Development: we must treat community development like the priority that it is. And to craft a more sustainable path for the future of Medford, I will work to expedite the creation of an Office of Housing Stability: we need City personnel whose sole mission is ensuring that Medford residents can stay in Medford. I will prioritize passing the Housing Production Plan, and I will work to create an affordable housing trust, to collect and protect funding specific to affordable housing-related projects – from converting existing homes to affordable housing, to creating assistance programs for low- and middle-income homebuyers.
Over 40% of Medford homes are rented, and yet we don’t currently have a renter on City Council. As a renter myself, if elected, I will hold the City accountable to supporting tenants. I will work to establish an annual distribution of information about renters’ rights and resources, including what to do in the event of eviction, to every renter-occupied property in Medford.
2. Making Medford more sustainable and planning for climate resiliency
For the sake of current and future generations of Medford residents, we must act urgently to make our city more sustainable. I support taking bold action to mitigate Medford’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, including a net-zero or carbon-neutral requirement for new developments. I support expanding incentives for property owners in Medford to lower the carbon footprint of their properties; a municipal composting program; evaluating and improving our municipal recycling program; and a commercial ban on plastic bags.
We can’t wait any longer to ensure that Medford is prepared for the adverse effects of climate change – from intense storms, to stormwater flooding, to dangerously high temperatures during summertime months. To protect our population, we must invest in modeling and planning for how our community will be affected by changing weather patterns in both the short-term and long-term futures. I support developing concrete plans for safety and resiliency for all Medford neighborhoods, and a holistic approach to community preservation.
3. Supporting our public schools
Fully funding our public schools is non-negotiable. I graduated from a public high school that was in the midst of a budget crisis; my classmates and I saw firsthand how quickly extracurriculars and whole areas of study can disappear when there isn’t enough funding to go around.
We must strengthen our resolve to set every public school teacher and family up for success – and we must pass a city budget that materially supports that goal. Funding all necessary educational services is the baseline. On top of that, I’ll advocate for a charting a path to fee-free arts programming, sports, and other extracurriculars; expanding mental health and supportive programming for students; and other measures to ensure that school is a safe, affirming and enriching experience for every student.
4. Public safety and community wellness
I have always felt safe and secure here in Medford. We must make sure that the same holds true for every single person in Medford, regardless of their circumstances or background.
If elected, I will work to establish alternative crisis response and mental health crisis response teams, so as to more appropriately and effectively support people in times of urgent need. I support calls to create a civilian oversight board over MPD policies and practices. In addition, I endorse the existing non-cooperation policy between MPD and the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and will support efforts to ban the public use of surveillance technology until a community review and oversight board has been established.
No less importantly, we must make it a priority that every resident’s fundamental needs are met. We will not truly know safety and wellness until we have rooted out food and housing insecurity in every neighborhood, and ensured that every Medford worker has a living wage and just working conditions.
5. Investing in infrastructure
To everyone's detriment, for far too long, we have been under-investing in our roads, sidewalks and public buildings. As a city, we must hold our city services and built environment to a higher standard. As your Councilor, I’ll push for a city budget that truly funds our values. Residents deserve safe and well-maintained roads; sidewalks that are accessible for all pedestrians, whether they walk or roll; and expanded bike lanes and proper bike parking.
So many of our goals for Medford come down to the funding available. And since we’re not there yet, we need to do the hard work of negotiating a path towards a more robust future, and figure out exactly how we’re going to expand the pie. Creating a more business-friendly environment in Medford’s squares, improving our grant-seeking capacity, and renegotiating our Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) agreements with our large nonprofit neighbors are just some of the options on the table. But with so many urgent needs, we can’t afford to just go with the status quo.
6. Transparent and accessible city government
Nobody – regardless of age, background, language spoken at home, political leaning, or documentation status – should feel intimidated to participate in city business, to serve on a committee, or to show up to a meeting to speak their mind. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that this vision has been realized in Medford – and that’s a big problem. City Hall must be a space where every resident can trust that they will be welcomed, listened to, and respected. If elected, I will work to establish and shore up norms and policies to make sure everyone is included in our city government.
We should embrace any measure that increases public participation in city business. I support maintaining Zoom as a way for residents to participate in City Council and School Committee meetings, even after the pandemic. I also support the creation of appropriate roles for MHS students within city government, so that local students can get meaningful experience and exposure to local government.
To be a truly representative and inclusive city government, we must remove all barriers to access and participation. That’s why I want to see all city meetings, mailings, and online resources communicated in every major language spoken in Medford. We must secure funding for translation services at every public meeting, a full translation of the city website, a full-time translator at City Hall; and work towards the creation of an Office of Immigrant Outreach. I will advocate for the establishment of a regular citywide language survey, to ensure that additional language needs are addressed promptly.
Finally, I will hold myself accountable to being a listening ear, a resource, and advocate for Medford residents. If elected, I will hold regular office hours both on Zoom and in public settings, be accessible by phone and email, and offer mentorship to other Medford residents who are interested in seeking public office.
Want to hear more or discuss your own issues and priorities for Medford? Please get in touch to set up a conversation.