Improving City Services
To help others when help is most needed is why I have dedicated my career to working in public service. It is important to me that the City of Waltham support and care for all of its residents regardless of their age, gender, culture or financial status. What is lacking in Waltham today is a coordinated and collaborative effort to make the most of our existing resources, make those programs easy to access for the residents they are intending to serve, and the leadership to identify and fill existing service gaps. My administration will not only actively support existing efforts, but we’ll work to supplement them.
Expanding the role of the city’s Health Department to encompass Waltham’s vital human services will be a cornerstone of my administration. We must make sure no Waltham resident slips through the cracks and we need to eliminate duplication of services to ensure that we are distributing our resources most efficiently. We need all departments working together every day to address the needs of our residents. Not only will internal coordination be prioritized but we will prioritize strong partnerships with our private and not-for-profit human services organizations who are critical to our success. Together we will create a stronger and more comprehensive and effective safety net for our neediest residents.
Our Community: Waltham’s Demographic Profile
Waltham is a diverse community and our diversity is growing. There are more than 60 languages spoken in our Waltham Public Schools and our schools saw a 20% jump in English Language Learners (ELL) over the last two school years. Our residents are a cross section of age and financial status. 12% of our population are elderly and approximately 10% of our residents are living below the poverty line. Our households are almost evenly split between homeowners and renters living in Waltham. Effective human supports are especially important for a community as diverse as Waltham. We must ensure that each and every individual and family has the resources they need to survive and thrive in our community.
My Health & Human Services Agenda: Reshaping our Delivery Model
As Mayor, I will continue to work as a champion for the residents of Waltham and will reshape the city’s Health Department to become an Office of Health and Human Services. No longer will the Health Department’s singular focus be on health inspections. It is capable of doing so much more and providing a much greater benefit to our residents. The Office of Health and Human Services will bring recreation, health, senior, children, veteran, immigrant, nutrition, and disability services and programs under one roof allowing greater coordination and collaboration between departments serving our city. This new office will be empowered to think boldly about laying a sustainable foundation for the health and prosperity of our residents now and in the future. We need a Health and Human Services Department that leads on issues that address the full scope of modern-day health needs of our residents, and to deliver on that goal, we will create a streamlined and comprehensive approach.
Planning Ahead and Building Strong Partnerships
There are many private and non-profit organizations within Waltham who work every day to provide invaluable assistance to the residents of Waltham. These organizations provide housing assistance, job training, healthy lifestyle workshops, access to healthy foods for low income residents, and other critical services to seniors, ELL families, children, veterans, unemployed or underemployed residents, disabled residents, and many others. As mayor, I will make it a priority that the Office of Health and Human Services work with organizations such as Healthy Waltham, Neighbors Who Care, Waltham Family Schools, Waltham Partnership for Youth, WATCH CDC and Latinos en Accion to create a network of support that maximizes resources and helps the city to identify and fill service gaps. Under this model, we will aim to provide a seamless delivery model among and across partner organizations where no resident gets left behind.
Our Office of Health and Human Services will also focus on health and wellness. We will actively collaborate with organizations like Waltham Fields Community Farm and Healthy Waltham, who are working to provide access and education about the nutritional value of fresh, locally grown food product, the need for sustainability and the value of open space. We will ensure that Waltham residents have access to well-maintained open space, hiking trails, parks and recreational opportunities such as Prospect Park and the Western Greenway. We will also look for ways to introduce active living concepts to the city by hosting family fun runs and other initiatives that bring vibrancy and activity to our downtown core and every neighborhood of Waltham.
Effective Management for All Residents
As Mayor, I will work to make sure we have the most effective programs in place to assist our most vulnerable residents. The Director of Health and Human Services will work to create or expand upon successful models of collaboration to enhance services for all Waltham residents.
Making sure our youngest residents are given every opportunity to succeed is of utmost importance. Under my leadership, the city will focus on strengthening the partnerships between human service agencies, city government and our school department to ensure all of our students needs are realized and addressed. We will build upon successful programs such as the Waltham Family School, Breaking Barriers, Inc., Parent Child Home Program, Power Program, YMCA, Waltham Boys and Girls Club, Waltham Partnership for Youth, and our local youth sports leagues to make sure all Waltham children are receiving support before, during and after school. We will work to address transportation gaps that prevent participation of some students in after school sports, tutoring and extracurricular activities. Providing the opportunity to participate in recreational activities, join team sports and explore the arts are all part of a healthy childhood and are opportunities every child should enjoy and we will work to make sure that happens.
As mayor, I will support our veterans by creating partnerships between the Waltham Office for Veteran’s Affairs and workforce training and housing organizations so that our veterans have access to attractive, affordable housing and appropriate job training to put their valuable military skills to work in civilian life. I will work closely with the Disability Services Commission to support our disabled residents and ensure that they have an active voice in Waltham.
Waltham’s seniors helped make our city the exceptional place that it is today and they deserve the utmost respect and the best of services from our community. As a city, we need to be sure we are planning for their needs, which includes addressing the changing housing and transportation needs of our aging population. Under my leadership, city government will work in partnership with organizations such as the Council on Aging and Neighbors Who Care to streamline offerings and fill the gaps in senior programming. Keeping our seniors active and involved in every aspect of our community will be a top priority of my administration.
I will work with our public safety officials to address some of our biggest public health and safety challenges head on. We will establish a dedicated, comprehensive and cross-departmental effort to combat addiction and domestic violence, and we will put more police officers on the streets to make sure that all residents in every neighborhood feel safe and secure in our city.
My administration will work to support a healthy lifestyle for all residents. The Farmers Market offers a dollar for dollar matching program that will double the value of SNAP food dollars up to $10 for low income residents and provides a 10% senior discount. Organizations like Waltham Fields Community Farm and Healthy Waltham are supporting healthy lifestyles and partnering with Waltham schools to teach students about nutrition and the benefits of eating healthy. My administration will support these efforts and work to enhance access to healthy foods for all families – especially our most vulnerable populations.
My Office of Health and Human Services will think boldly about how to operate in new and innovative ways that maximize resources, reach all of our needy residents, and empower the dedicated staff and volunteers providing these critical health and human services that are so important to our city. We will better understand the many agencies whose work falls under the umbrella of health and human services, including their successes and their struggles. We will partner with them to ensure that services are delivered to the people of Waltham in the most effective and impactful ways possible. My goal will be to ensure that Waltham continues to be a welcoming and supportive place to live for all of our residents.
What This Means to You
As is commonly said, A rising tide lifts all boats. Under my leadership, Waltham will offer a health and human services agenda that aims to lift all boats. We will deliver the services necessary to assist our neediest of residents, we will work hard to combat crime, and we will bring the community together in a spirit of volunteerism. We will all feel the city’s pride and prosperity when all residents of Waltham are well cared for and optimistic for the future.