your recycling bin has seen its last day, do you know who to call to get a new
one? Or how about when a pothole is growing in the middle of your street? Or
maybe you just want to know who’s playing at tonight’s Concert on the Common?
might have gone to high school or maybe you go to church with someone at City
Hall and can get those answers in a flash. But many residents (both new and
longtime) don’t know exactly who to call. And admit it, Waltham is undoubtedly
a “have-to-know-someone” kind of city. Personal relationships are great, of
course, but not all residents in Waltham should have to build those before they
can get a street light repaired.
why as an at-large candidate for Waltham City Council I’m advocating for the
implementation of a 311 Constituent Services system in our city.
it. One simple, three-digit phone number that gets you to a representative
(24/7) who can either answer your question immediately or direct you to the
proper city department. A ticket is created on all calls and your request is
then tracked and is publicly available online until it has been completed.
system can help us create the transparency and accountability at all levels
that I know we sorely need in this city. And the hard data that would then be
available to us over months and years would give us a true guide for building
the city’s budget and allocating proper staffing in each department.
recently visited the City of Somerville where that municipality runs a very
successful 311 program. I was inspired by the efficiency it is helping to
create in that city and the resulting goodwill and pride it creates in its
citizens and its public employees. It makes life easier for all residents and
it has freed up time for city departments to focus on bigger issues and
have to admit that I left Somerville that day also feeling very frustrated by
the prospect of trying to bring this same improvement to Waltham. But I know we
can do it. And I know that all of our residents deserve this type of wise
investment in our future.
does not come without some fears and discomfort. We must fight through those
fears and not be afraid to look beyond our borders for ideas that work. We are
a city of 60,000 with a strong tax base. We must not be afraid to spend
appropriately to improve our services and then have the accountability in place
to assure that we’re getting what we paid for.
We are a
city founded on innovation. And it is time for our city to make innovative
changes again that embrace the future. We must begin the process of tearing
down the barriers that keep many of our neighbors from taking a greater stake
in the building of that more inclusive, efficient and prosperous future for
all. I’m confident that a 311 Constituent Services system will be a strong
start in that process.
Previously published in the Waltham News tribune.