Town Council candidate Ashli Stempel

  • Greenfield town councilor Ashli Stempel on the Greenfield town common. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Friday, September 08, 2017

GREENFIELD — By running for an at-large seat on the Town Council, Precinct 8 Town Councilor Ashli Stempel is hoping to solidify her role as a representative of the entire town.

Stempel, 31, has served on the council since November 2015. A Greenfield native, she moved back to the area in 2012 after living in Boston for six years.

Over the next year, Stempel hopes to focus on ways to use infrastructure more creatively to increase revenue streams; focus on diversity and inclusiveness on a town level; and anticipate change in Greenfield and prepare for it.

“I think a big issue — and we saw it come before the council — is Greenfield and our feelings toward diversity in town,” she said. “We have neighbors of all different ethnicities and backgrounds, but what I tend to see is ethnic and cultural groups are in silos — maybe we need to work on having more opportunities to bring all cultures and all ethnic backgrounds together and make sure that we really have an inclusive government atmosphere.”

For example, Stempel said, she’d like to organize voting drives in neighborhoods with low voter turnout, and is urging Greenfield Community Energy and Technology — the new quasi-governmental organization bringing low-cost internet to Greenfield — to focus on promoting the service in neighborhoods that are most likely to be below the poverty rate.

While she doesn’t believe the town has been irresponsible with revenue, Stempel said she anticipates higher costs in the future, as infrastructure in town is failing. And while businesses are coming to Greenfield, Stempel said the town needs to find creative solutions due to a lack of commercial space.

“We’re seeing the need for new buildings, so there are a lot of things coming through the pipeline that are going to cost a lot of money,” she said. “If we can be more creative with the infrastructure we have and the space we have available, I think we can find additional revenue streams to help us pay for these things that we absolutely need to do in the future.”

Stempel said one way of doing this is to encourage multi-use buildings that serve multiple generations, such as the new senior/community center. Along with that, Stempel said she hopes to focus on creating creative housing solutions, such as the new “tiny house” development sited for Deerfield Street.

When it comes to the proposed new library and public safety complex, Stempel said public safety and education are two of the most important resources for any community, but added that the proposals should be carefully evaluated. For example, she questioned whether the cost of a new public safety complex would result in a cut to the number of police officers on the street.

“A town budget isn’t just dollars and cents, it’s a moral budget,” she said.

As far as the idea of turning the former First National Bank building into a downtown cultural center, Stempel said she thinks it’s a viable plan that would help bolster downtown, but said it should be executed in a smart way — weighing needs versus wants.

“I always encourage people to see what money is available, how can we do this project smarter, and save money to get the wants done, too,” she said.

Stempel also said that change is inevitable, and would like to see the council and town department heads work together to figure out how to best anticipate change and prepare for it, instead of getting stuck with enormous bills because something went wrong.

“I do feel like our (current) Town Council is getting hit with all these huge costs, so it’s that moral piece — what’s a need, what’s a want, and how can we fit it in over time?” she said.