FOR SELECT BOARD: Alexa Singer

Years in Marblehead: 22
Occupation/education: Chief pilot and tenured professor
Appointed positions and/or elected offices: Select Board (Board of Selectmen on the ballot)

What are three reasons/issues as to why you’re running for election?
I am deeply committed to giving back to my community. Sustainability planning is at the top of my agenda, and I look forward to continuing my work on the town’s Climate Action Plan. I am also focused on improving our infrastructure and ensuring Marblehead’s long-term fiscal health.

Strengthening the relationship between citizens and town government—through the excellent delivery of services and effective communication—is vital and something I will continue to work on.

What areas of municipal government do you think the town could give more attention to?
There are several areas of municipal government the town needs to continue focusing on for growth. One is financial planning. I am a vocal advocate for sound fiscal management, especially in the areas of infrastructure, repairs, and replacements. Following recommended best practices for municipal governments and moving forward, relying less on free cash while exercising responsible ways to balance the budget, are critical. This will allow other initiatives to receive he funding necessary for success.

What do you feel will be the biggest issues facing the town in the coronavirus pandemic’s
wake?

It is difficult to predict the real long-term impacts of the current pandemic. One of the biggest issues will likely be weathering the financial storm, which includes inflation, rising energy prices, and supply chain issues. The costs of running a town continue to skyrocket. We need careful and deliberate planning on both sides of the financial ledger. Taking appropriate action and engaging in deliberate and thoughtful planning are key. The Select Board will be faced with making the right choices within these financial constraints.

It is important to remember that families are struggling right now. They are grappling with the same forces to make ends meet. Their burdens are our burdens—they impact the town as a whole. We as a community need to come together, reaching out with compassion, as every one of us grapples with the mental, physical, and economic toll these last couple years.

Do you think the infrastructure override will pass? What are you doing to convince the town to support it? If it doesn’t pass, what will you do?

In 2020 and 2021, the Town of Marblehead asked its citizens to rank their priorities. The single biggest issue was the maintenance of streets and sidewalks. It was overwhelming. In fact, streets and sidewalks earned the most “not satisfied” votes. The override offers a solution to this clear concern for our citizens. It is a thoughtful, multi-year plan to minimize the impact on taxpayers, while simultaneously allowing for a comprehensive approach to control the overall cost of the project. I am confident when the public educates themselves on the ballot question 1, they will recognize the value of the initiative.

Building support requires clear communication with the public. The data and analysis presented at town meeting was an important step in this process. The presentation offered a clear explanation of the timing and financials involved. Information on Question 1 can be found on the town of Marblehead website under June 21, 2022 election information. There you will find the sample ballot, information on the capital improvement projects, as well as the presentations on the new pavement management program. I encourage all voters to review this information. The whole process was dictated by prioritizing citizen’s requests. In the event the override does not pass I will continue to advocate for the needs of the departments and the needs of the town of Marblehead.

Two-plus years into COVID-19, what do you hope the town has learned about the delivery
of services during an emergency like a pandemic?

The continued delivery of services is essential for the town of Marblehead. In an emergency, this requires vigilance and agility, two very important lessons from the pandemic. Operating within a pandemic often demands thoughtful, deliberate action within a tight timeframe. It’s a dynamic situation. Changes in staffing, illnesses, supply chain issues, and other challenges complicate the process. Taking proactive steps to off-set and minimize these negative impacts requires continued coordination between departments and transitioning to remote options, when necessary. This helps ensure that there are no disruptions in services. The town’s elected leadership remains vigilant to unplanned challenges, but we must continue to verify that we have mechanisms in place to deliver services without (or with minimal) disruptions.

How can you as a selectperson ensure that the value of these lessons is not lost over time?

As a selectperson, I will advocate for taking the steps necessary to crystallize and document the lessons learned, so that they can be incorporated into upcoming planning initiatives. Retaining this knowledge in a systematic way allows for future education and training.

The pandemic has also made this a challenging time for local businesses. How would you
rate the town’s performance in supporting the local business community?
What more could be done to ensure that the town remains home to a vibrant collection of local shops, restaurants and other businesses?

Local businesses are an essential part of a thriving town, especially in Marblehead. They
highlight our unique character and provide an opportunity to connect with neighbors and visitors.
Supporting and celebrating our businesses are vital—in and out of a pandemic. That’s why the
town created a series of community consultations and built a recovery plan using the
Massachusetts Local Rapid Recovery Plan (LRRP) Program.

The process began with an assessment. A staggering 97% of our businesses reported being impacted. In July of 2021, the town hosted a public forum to allow employees, business owners, and residents the chance for input and recommendations. The LRRP Program was designed to help support business owners and the community. The plan was customized to address individual economic challenges and the impacts of the pandemic. It included challenges, strategies, and actions. The forum for the final report was held in October of 2021.
You can view the report at:
https://www.marblehead.org/sites/g/files/vyhlif4661/f/uploads/20211021_marblehead_-
final_report-_l-r.pdf

Our challenge now is executing on the recommendations. Supporting outdoor dining options, traffic and parking considerations, coordinating with the Chamber of Commerce, developing strategies to connect business districts and utilizing public owned spaces to bring businesses, artists, and volunteers together. As a selectperson, I will advocate for these recommendations, along with continued communication with the business community to gauge that performance.

As real estate prices continue to soar, Marblehead homes seem to be getting even further out of reach for many of our police officers, teachers and other public servants, to say nothing of those who were raised in town but cannot afford to move back “home.” To what degree is this a problem, and what can be done about it?”

The rising cost of real estate is an enormous concern for Marblehead. Creating affordable housing has to be a goal when opportunities for new construction present themselves. In addition, zoning regulations drive how much and what type of housing can be constructed. As a community, we need to utilize the tools at our disposal and work with the state and zoning board to generate ideas and opportunities.

The high cost of construction and limited land development underpin our challenges. Addressing them requires a multipronged approach. No one solution will fully address the problem. While not housing specific, exploring options for economic development, such as entrepreneurial support, grants, and new sources of revenue and business income, generates tax dollars—other than those levied on real estate, which is a component of housing affordability.

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