Q&A: Mayoral candidate Roxann Wedegartner


Published: 9/5/2019 10:49:50 PM
Modified: 9/5/2019 10:49:40 PM

Editor’s note: This questionnaire completed by Roxann Wedegartner is the last of three for the candidates running for Greenfield mayor in the Sept. 10 preliminary election. Ones by Brickett Allis ran in Wednesday’s Recorder and Sheila Gilmour was in Thursday’s Recorder. They will also be available on recorder.com.

Address: 85 Hastings St., Greenfield

Education: BS Journalism UMass

Occupation (past/present): Adult workforce development educator

How long have your lived in Greenfield? 39 years

Political Experience: Elected to Greenfield School Committee twice; served six years; chairwoman of the Greenfield School Committee for three years; member Greenfield Planning Board for 16 years, chairwoman for 14 years

What sets you apart from the other candidates? My time serving on the School Committee and the Planning Board as a member and chair of both committees — some 22 years altogether — sets me apart from the other candidates and represents the broader experience we need in a “city CEO.” Education and economic development are two critical parts of what makes our city work — one represents a significant investment in our future, but also a significant part of our budget, and the other one helps us grow our tax base to help offset rising costs to bring us our town services and to maintain our infrastructure. Being on the Planning Board for 16 years allowed me to hear first-hand what businesses are looking for in Greenfield. I know we can work smarter to continue making this city a viable, attractive place to do business. I participated in most of the economic and residential development that helped grow our tax base. Projects approved by the Planning Board during my tenure as chairwoman continue to bring in millions of dollars of tax revenue.

Before serving on the Planning Board, I served on the Greenfield School Committee for six years, three years as chairwoman. As mayor, being a voting member of our School Committee, and understanding the education and funding issues facing us today will not be unfamiliar territory to me. My children were educated in the Greenfield Public Schools. I believe the mayor’s role on the School Committee is one of a guide who represents a holistic approach to partnering with the other School Committee members, the superintendent, and administrative and teaching staff. The mayor also acts as an advocate for our schools as well as a bridge to the relationship between the municipal side and the school side.

If elected, what would be your first order of business?

I want to always remember that being a public servant isn’t about the title I hold but about the people I serve. So I will connect with and utilize the many resources available to us from our citizens, department heads and employees, to Franklin Regional Council of Governments, to Greenfield Community College, to other mayors, and our state and federal elected officials in order to be the best, most informed, and effective mayor possible. My first order of business will be to develop open lines of communication between my office and these resources.

I will meet with department heads and employees to set expectations for a renewed commitment to serving the tax payer through finding greater efficiencies in our operations, to ensure that our Fiscal 2021 budget development process is still on track; to begin plans for promoting Greenfield through contacting potential new businesses, and supporting existing businesses. Next, I would meet with our school department’s administration and teaching staff to discuss our mutual interest in having the best schools in the county. Then I’ll meet with GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernandez to see how we can align our education programs to best educate our students and meet the demand for a talented workforce here.

What would be the most challenging part about being mayor and how would you overcome it?

Running a city of any size anywhere is challenging. We have many challenges ahead of us such as increasing public transportation options, upgrading our sewer and water infrastructure, and others. It will take time to build trusting relationships that will lay the foundation for the hard work of solving our city’s problems, moving forward difficult policy initiatives, working within our financial capabilities, creating change, embracing innovation and authentic collaboration.

Can you give an example of a successful time or project when you collaborated closely with someone who doesn’t share your political beliefs?

Directing the Sustainable Greenfield Master Plan process was a success. It involved working collaboratively with people from all backgrounds to produce a single document that charts a course for Greenfield’s future. The Economic Development Subcommittee meetings were always filled with differing opinions, but we made it work. Today, the master plan is being implemented incrementally and we’re doing great in many areas, particularly saving millions of dollars in energy costs.

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