Please provide a brief biographical background on yourself. What should voters know about you?
I’ve lived in Shrewsbury for over 20 years. I grew up in a low-income home and participated in overcoming the obstacles my family faced by helping to pay the bills. I understand deeply how local decisions impact families like mine. I learned about the value of giving back to the community from my family. I’m a proud product of our public schools; in 2015 I became the first in my family to graduate high school. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Assumption College in 2019. I work for the Attorney General’s Office. I serve as the Vice Chair of the Finance Committee and was elected to Town Meeting in 2017. I’m proud to be the only Town Meeting Member to publicly post my voting record, and have been doing so since 2017 to keep constituents informed. You can learn more about my priorities and view my voting record over the years at GarciaForShrewsbury.com. I’ll continue to work collaboratively with community leaders as a member of the Select Board. I would be honored to earn your support in the May 2nd Annual Town Election.
Why are you running?
I’m running for Select Board because I believe that community should be at the forefront of all of our conversations. I want to ensure that others in the community are able to thrive, prosper, feel included and welcomed. I will work to make sure that our local government is being as transparent and accessible as possible, so that there are no doubts about the decisions officials make. One of my top priorities is to collaborate with other town leaders and departments to develop ways for working families to be able to remain in Shrewsbury, including tax relief for seniors and lower-income households. My commitments to residents are as follows: help Shrewsbury continue to be a place for individuals and families to grow; push for a more transparent and accessible local government; be deliberate in our approach to implementing the 2030 Strategic Plan; assure that public services in town have the resources to operate exceptionally; ensure Shrewsbury’s decisions are environmentally conscious and responsible; support our public school system.
The Beal school redevelopment is under consideration. What is your vision for downtown, and how does this project fit into this vision?
On April 13th, the updated site-plan proposal for the redevelopment of 1-7 Maple Ave. was approved by the Planning Board. I’ve been an active and thoughtful listener at the hearings because I really value the feedback from community members and the Planning Board. I’m glad to see that the developers came back with a proposal that was smaller in footprint, and incorporated feedback from the community. I’m also pleased that they changed the configuration of units on the site because I believe it will decrease the number of school-aged-children that could come out of this development. I do wish that this had a larger commercial component than is currently being proposed. My vision for the Town Center is one where we have vibrancy, that is a gathering place for folks to enjoy each other’s company, that offers a variety of activities, businesses, and restaurants for people to frequent, and a place for individuals to call home.
There are a number of housing projects on the horizon in Shrewsbury. What specific criteria would you weigh when considering support for a project?
I’d first focus on affordability: are we creating a town that is welcoming to all? I believe we need to be as proactive as we can to close the gap to meet our 10% affordable housing inventory requirement so as to protect ourselves from future 40B developments that continually skirt around our local zoning. Once we meet this requirement, we can have more control over our future development. Partnering with the Affordable Housing Trust and the Community Preservation Committee is a top priority of mine to help us make progress on our housing affordability challenges. I’d like to make sure we are adequately planning for new growth, and making sure our Town services have the funding needed to operate efficiently. I’d also consider the location of a project: can the existing neighborhood(s) handle the scale of future development? As we revisit the Town’s Housing Production Plan, I’m eager to work collaboratively to strategize how we can best approach these issues, as well as offer solutions that will meet the needs of our growing community.