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My name is Patrick Sheridan and I’m running for Franklin Town Council. My wife Kristen and I have lived in Franklin since 2008. We have three children in the Franklin Public Schools. In the years that I have lived in Franklin I’ve been active in the community. I have volunteered in fundraisers to raise money for the Saint Vincent Paul Society and the Franklin Food pantry. I have volunteered for the Franklin Knights of Columbus to raise money for disabled children. I have taught CCD and coached Flag Football at Beaver Pond. I have also voted in every town election. I actively supported both override attempts for Franklin High School and the CPA (Community Preservation Act) referendum. One of our family’s favorite spots in Franklin is the DelCarte Conservation Area.
Will you support putting the override on the ballot this term? If not, how do you propose addressing the fiscal challenges set out in the FY2021 budget message? https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6896/f/uploads/2020-05-27_fy_2021_budget_message_narrative_final.pdf
Yes! I strongly support an override, especially to help the underfunding of our schools. Franklin’s “NSS” (Net School Spending) is only 11% more than the state requirement. That means that 78% of Massachusetts districts spend more that the 11% Franklin spends including surrounding towns like Bellingham and Milford. I have three children currently attending Franklin Public Schools. The schools have already laid off 100 workers. During the height of Covid-19, the federal government gave additional funds for Covid relief, but this was a very temporary band aid and there is still a large deficit. It has been made very clear during recent Town Council budget meetings, that the way Massachusetts determines state funding is with an equation which factors in Franklin's median income and land value. Therefore this funding must come from local contributions.
How do you propose supporting Franklin’s small businesses? What actions Town Council should take to attract more small businesses to Franklin?
I want to understand the circumstances around why businesses are turning away from our downtown and help to address these concerns. The Town Council has approved funding for a downtown zoning diagnostics analysis for the first time since 2003.I hope to be a part of these discussions and to include the community in this process. I will continue to research what other communities are doing. For example, Arlington has created commercial vacancies. Taunton has created a rebate program to fill downtown vacancies.
What accomplishments are you most proud of during your most recent tenure? Or, if you are a new candidate, what achievements make you most qualified for the position?
I have a degree in political Science and History. I am a Civics teacher, and I am very familiar with how governments work at the Municipal level.
What do you believe the Town Council’s priorities should be for the upcoming term?
I think the priorities of the Town Council for the upcoming term should be: Properly funding the Franklin Public Schools; Increasing conservation land community greenspaces, for example connect the rail trail to the downtown; Preserving and maintaining our lakes, ponds and waterways; Making better use of the current green spaces; Increasing town responsibility in environmental actions to combat climate change, for example moving town vehicles to green vehicles; Increasing community participation in our local government by moving election day to Saturday and opening a poll in each precinct; and Identifying ways to support all our local businesses and help revitalize Downtown Franklin.
In its 2020 update to implementation of the 2013 Master Plan, the Department of Planning & Community Development (DPCD) recommended two goals related to housing in Franklin, the first goal is to provide an appropriate mix of housing alternatives for middle income workers. The second goal is to support development opportunities for low, moderate and middle income households preventing many in Franklin from being able to find affordable housing. Are you in support of these goals? Why or why not?
I support both goals. I believe it is important to keep Franklin economically diverse and accessible to people of different levels of income.
In the FY22 Budget Hearing, the Superintendent of Schools presented data showing Franklin falls in the 22nd percentile statewide for Net School Spending (state aid + local contribution) and 75% of districts in Massachusetts spend more, per pupil, than Franklin. Do you believe Franklin's local contribution to education should increase? Reference: https://www.franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/uploads/fy22_public_budget_hearing_presentation_2.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2kIknw-RiGTdInzDHdBcc4Th8VDGdlug7qYepSxrnoQxUCK_oITKrCiQY
Franklin must contribute more to support our schools. The 22nd percentile is way too low. We can afford to contribute more. Most of our surrounding communities contribute more than we do. Franklin has always taken pride in our schools and our great schools have been a large reason for our increased land values. We should, in turn, support our schools accordingly.
In its 2020 update to implementation of the 2013 Master Plan, the Department of Planning & Community Development, (DPCD) recommended two goals with regard to transportation and infrastructure. Goal one was to improve and maintain the Town’s public roadway system. The second goal is to make the Town more walkable and bikeable by creating and maintaining safe interconnected pedestrian and bicycle routes. Are you in support of this why or why not? How do you propose funding?
I strongly support both goals. It is very important to improve and to maintain the Town’s public roadways. Involving residents in this effort is also important because they can provide valuable insight into where improvement should happen.
Making the Town more walkable and bikeable by creating and maintaining safe interconnected pedestrian and bicycle routes will be one of my top priorities as a town councilor. My family is fortunate to live in a walkable area of town and we enjoy walking to the downtown, town green, local schools and to businesses on Route 140. Our fifth grader bikes safely around the neighborhood with friends. A more walkable and bikeable town also reduces Franklin’s carbon footprint and improves the health of Franklin residents. support connecting the rail trail to downtown. I have spent time walking these trails, and learned about the committee in town working toward this effort from one of my fellow candidates, incumbent Cobi Frangillo, who was providing great insight as to what efforts are being made and what challenges are in front of us. Another walking trail runs perpendicular to the rail trail. If the rail trail is connected to downtown and the other trail is upgraded, that would create a walkable and bikeable trail connecting Bellingham, downtown Franklin, Beaver Pond and Washington Street. This would incentivize more foot traffic in town, including folks from surrounding towns, helping local businesses as well as create more of an appeal for new businesses looking into coming to Franklin. I would also research through my own efforts, and by talking to officials in other cities and towns that have done similar projects, the Federal and State grant programs associated with these types of projects.