Town Council candidate Penny Ricketts

  • Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Friday, September 08, 2017

GREENFIELD — Incumbent Penny Ricketts, who is running for re-election in this fall’s at-large Town Council race, says she brings to the table a willingness to adapt and change her mind, as well as heavy community involvement.

Ricketts, 57, has served on the council for four years — first as a Precinct 5 councilor, then in the at-large seat she currently holds. If she’s re-elected, Ricketts has two major goals — reducing fees for business in Greenfield and setting up a fee system for absentee landlords.

“We really need to start focusing more on abandoned buildings,” Ricketts said, adding a stronger stance needs to be put in writing. “People don’t want to live in the community when there’s eyesores on their street.”

She also wrote a letter to the town’s Licensing Commission asking it to stop charging business for putting tables and chairs outside. She said even though the fee is only $20, it feels like the town is nickel-and-diming businesses.

“Let’s take those fees away and make it easier to do business in Greenfield,” she said.

As far as plans for a new library and public safety complex, which Town Council will likely have to consider in the coming year, Ricketts said it may be best to put the issues to a townwide vote.

“I think the library and our public safety buildings are going to be big issues, I think they’re going to be tough issues for the community because that’s increasing taxes,” she said. “I think getting a price tag on everything we have to take care of right now would be better instead of, ‘We just want a new library and we just want a public safety complex.’ I like the ideas, I just want to make sure it’s really feasible and the locations really gotta work.”

With plans in motion to turn the vacant former First National Bank building into a downtown cultural center, Ricketts said she just can’t wrap her mind around the idea — unless the town receives enough grants or donations to cover the cost.

“As far as the town taking it over, I think it’s too big of a project, I’m not sure I could wrap my mind around us doing anything with it because it’s been tried so many times,” she said.

Instead, Ricketts said she would rather see the empty spaces and upper floors on Main Street filled, and the town focus on infrastructure.

In addition to serving on Town Council, Ricketts also serves on the District Attorney’s Citizen Advisory Board, the Literacy Project Board, the Greenfield Youth Commission, the state’s Brownfields Advisory Group and more. She also served on the town’s Human Rights Commission, as well as the YMCA Board, the Greenfield Community Energy and Technology Advisory Board, the School Committee and the Planning Board.

“I think serving is so important, and it’s how things really get done. The mayor does have power and the DPW and the superintendent all have their power, but the council and the School Committee drive so much more of what happens than people realize,” she said. “I feel like I am also running because I feel like it’s so important to keep strong women in council, a person of color.”