Candidates for Select Board Member – Hanna Switlekowski and Susan J. Price

Jump to Hanna Switlekowski

Susan J. Price –

Many thanks to the Sustainable Sharon Coalition for all of its hard work to benefit the Town of Sharon including supporting the Complete Streets and Green Community programs, the move to weekly recycling and Black Earth composting, and participating in Imagine Sharon.

I have been learning about and immersed in the topic of sustainability for decades because of my academic, professional, and volunteer experience in city and regional planning. I earned a BS in Urban and Regional Studies and a Master of Regional Planning degree from Cornell University. I am a member in good standing of the American Institute of Certified Planners and the American Planning Association.

My desire to serve on the Select Board has been fueled by my gratifying experiences in the town and region. I have served Sharon in many formal capacities already, including on the Planning Board (5 years), as Sharon’s Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and Three Rivers Interlocal Council (TRIC) Representative (over 10 years), on the subregional Suburban Mobility Working Group (2 years), and the Town Planner for the preparation of the new Master Plan: Imagine Sharon.

Sustainability is central to planning. For Sharon, it begins with vigorous protection of the natural assets of our town, including Lake Massapoag, our drinking water, our town wells, and the priority and protected open spaces. The 2019 Master Plan and the 2019 Open Space and Recreation Plan both recommend the preservation of the Rattlesnake Hill property. It would be ideal if the state purchased it to add to Borderland. Still, the town is negotiating to try to purchase the land primarily using Community Preservation funding. The town also would benefit from access to connected open and recreation spaces, and the preservation of our farms for their rural character and local food supply. I am very supportive of creative approaches to all of these objectives.

Sustainability can be improved through the use of clean and renewable energy resources. Sharon has already adopted the stretch energy code for building. I met with George Aronson of the Energy Advisory Committee to learn about the near and long term recommendations for solar panels on municipal properties. Also, the town can consider innovations such as those in MAPC’s new white paper on clean heating and cooling options for municipal facilities. Sharon should be a leader in these initiatives. 

In planning for the safety of our future and the potential impacts of climate change, Sharon has a relatively new hazard mitigation plan and updated stormwater regulations. The town has the opportunity to apply for a municipal vulnerability preparedness grant. I am ready to assist with this effort. In addition, I met twice with Sharon’s Civil Defense leaders to understand how they are prepared to help with emergency management in any crisis. 

Transportation and mobility must also be designed with sustainability principles. I would like to help lead Sharon’s ambitions to create a more walkable, bikeable, and accessible community by providing more bike lanes, sidewalks, and opportunities to access public transit and microtransit for those of all abilities.

In terms of future construction, I support revitalization of existing developed areas, and compact and infill development. It is also important to manage the use of materials and resources and promote efficiency in construction. The town should maintain and update its facilities and infrastructure in a timely manner. 

I fully endorse the Master Plan recommendations that all major decisions in town be considered through the lens of environmental sustainability (for example, to examine whether the proposal advances the town’s sustainability policies, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves air quality, improves water quality, contributes to groundwater recharge, or conserves natural resources), as well as through a community health lens and responsible financial lens.

Future generations in Sharon should enjoy their quality of life in a town where they can live, work, and play, choose from some variety in housing opportunities so residents can age in community, have the option to buy local food, utilize flexible work spaces, and benefit from community engagement. Local government should continue to coordinate with neighboring communities and the region. Because of my knowledge and experience over the last 30 years, I feel I am in a unique position to help the Select Board be an effective partner with the Sustainable Sharon Coalition.

 

 

Hanna Switlekowski – 

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself as a candidate for Sharon Select Board and share my views on sustainability in our community. 

The mission of Sustainable Sharon is “to inspire, educate and catalyze our community so that, together, we can intentionally connect and protect the planet.”  I include the mission statement because I feel very connected to it personally, as sustainability and climate change are issues that I have worked on, and continue to work on, throughout my educational studies and professional career.

Working on Beacon Hill, I have listened to constituents, including the advocates of No Sharon Pipeline, and researched and advocated for environmental policies that affect our community, including the Clean Energy Future Bill. I understand firsthand the policymaking process and how to partner with environmental stakeholders. 

Since joining the Sharon Finance Committee in 2015, I’m proud to have voted for initiatives that promote sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint in Sharon, such as the recent plastic bag ban. Many of the citizen petition-based articles I have voted on were brought forth by members of Sustainable Sharon members. At the next town meeting, scheduled for November 4, voters will once again decide on environmental issues affecting our community. I recently voted in favor of the plan to expand our solar energy capacity by entering into long-term leases for solar power projects at three sites in town. Additionally, I voted to preserve our natural resources at Rattlesnake Hill, a top-priority habitat in Massachusetts. The acquisition will come at no additional cost to property taxpayers. 

In our community, I believe that we should be looking to minimize our carbon footprint everyday. One way to achieve that goal should be increased carpooling, biking, walkability and use of public transportation. As a daily commuter on the train, I see a higher volume of traffic and congestion as more residents are trying to use this form of transportation. We must make it easier for residents to access the train, whether through carpooling initiatives, increased bike racks and bike lanes, and look at the potential for electric charging stations and electric scooter or bike-sharing programs similar to other communities. 

Climate change is occurring rapidly, and we need to be ready to mitigate and adapt as a community. We must ensure that future economic development in the town is sustainable in every way possible from lighting to water flow. We need to keep looking for ways to protect, preserve and manage our water supply. As more major rain and snow events occur, storm waters are becoming an increased concern. We need to look at our basins and drains, partnering with water management to minimize flooding on roadways and evaluate the ways to reuse and recycle the rainwater.

In inspiring our community to get engaged in sustainability, I would love to see a townwide expansion of the “adopt our streets program,” which the youth of Sustainable Sharon have started. Participating in the lake cleanup events this year, I certainly see the need to continue our efforts in keeping Sharon “a beautiful place to naturally live.”

As a student at Brandeis University, I participated in green initiatives including a recycling grab ‘n’ go collection at the end of each academic year, where students dropped off unwanted items that others could take for future use. I also participated in a food reusable container program, which encouraged student to bring a washable container in place of using Styrofoam trays or paper goods during meals. 

I mention these initiatives specifically because our community can do something about expanding our recycling and reusing. Massachusetts currently has a goal of reducing solid waste disposal largely by 2030, and I believe it is imperative that we take a look at how we can reduce our waste habits to ensure that we are in line, or even ahead of the state’s guidelines. One way is to improve our recycling and composting efforts as a town. I would explore how to expand the curbside composting program to be accessible to all residents. 

We need to think more consciously about our daily habits in reducing our waste. It’s not just about having a recycling bin in your driveway and putting items into it weekly. We need to better promote how to properly recycle items. 

If elected, I would like to work in partnership with Sustainable Sharon and the town on a recycling collection for citizens re-use. Similar to the Brandeis program, it could be for unwanted household items, clothing and other goods. Working with the school committee, our schools can look into phasing out completely disposable, compostable trays and switching to reusable, washable food containers and utensils. 

There is so much potential in how we reduce, reuse and recycle as a community.  

I look forward to the opportunity to engage in conversation and meet on October 16! 

 

 

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