I want to share with you my positions on some of the pressing issues facing Quincy. This is not an exhaustive list but rather an overview of the most frequent discussions I've had with voters while knocking on doors, making phone calls, and attending events around our city. If you have questions about my statements on this page or about my positions on issues not included on this page please do not hesitate to contact me directly by emailing me at Doug@DougGutro.com. I look forward to speaking with you and earning your vote on September 24th.
- Change in Quincy
- Economic Development
- FEMA Flood Maps
- Our Neighborhoods
- Downtown Redevelopment
- Substance Abuse
Quincy Deserves Change
I grew up in Quincy and attended Quincy Public Schools. My wife Sue and I chose to settle here and start a family and our sons Brian and Scott attend Quincy Public Schools today. Quincy is a great city – we wouldn’t have chosen to live here or have named our son Scott Quincy Gutro if we didn’t think that – and I’m running because our city deserves a government as great as its people.
Today, far too many decisions in this city are made without an opportunity for public discourse or resident input. From the downtown redevelopment, to Federal flood maps, to the proposed siting of an Olympic stadium in Marina Bay, or the myriad of projects that have impacted the quality of life in our neighborhoods, the Koch Administration makes decisions and we feel the consequences. I believe Quincy residents deserve a voice on the issues that impact their neighborhood and their wallet.
Quincy deserves leadership that stops leading with the city’s checkbook and reins in spending. This administration’s spending on snow removal, city hall renovations, and the acquisition of residential homes in North Quincy demonstrate its lack of understanding that it is “your money”. I pledge to restore fiscal discipline in city government.
Quincy deserves leadership that gives everyone a fair chance to get a job or promotion, that respects public records and the principals of the open meeting law. From a secretive city hiring process to senior officials illegally burning public records, the current administration has insulted the intelligence of the voters of this city on a regular basis. All city job openings should be posted online. The hiring process for city workers should be the same as the process for selecting a new mayor – open, transparent, and focused on the best candidate for the job, not the most connected. Public records should not only be preserved in accordance with the law, but also readily available and accessible to the public.
Quincy deserves an accountable government. Voters across the city tell me every day that they feel like they are left in the dark by the Mayor’s office, and that when a decision made by his administration backfires there is no accountability. Decisions not to appeal flood maps cost homeowners millions. Public Records illegally burned. Homeowners flooded when a decision was made not to lower a tide gate. In each case, no one was held accountable nor plans instituted to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future. Let’s change that!
A Gutro administration’s first focus will be on restoring faith in city government through transparency, responsiveness, performance, and accountability. On day one as your Mayor, I will not be ordering new carpets for my office – I will be opening the drapes to let the sunlight in.
The City of Quincy’s current plan for economic development faces one major obstacle: there is no plan. The downtown vision that was supported through more than a dozen neighborhood meetings is being circumvented by the Koch Administration and our neighborhoods are being over-developed by projects that aren’t permitted under existing zoning rules. This Administration’s piecemeal approach to economic development is exactly backwards. Today we develop by variance and our neighborhoods suffer.
Under a Gutro Administration, the City of Quincy will work with residents and businesses to develop a smart city-wide economic development plan. We will work together to create a vision that links our economy to strength of our geographic proximity to Boston and public transportation assets. Downtown Quincy is only miles from Downtown Boston, but it and other commercial corridors are a world apart because of the lack of a plan from the current administration. A Gutro administration will focus development around public transit nodes, will establish a plan to revive neighborhood business districts and improve gateways to our city to reestablish our city pride and identity. All while protecting the integrity of our neighborhoods.
Quincy deserves leadership that recognizes and embraces the potential of a city so conveniently located to Downtown Boston while also recognizing that neighborhoods are for living. These will be top priorities of mine.
Benjamin Franklin famously said that nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Taxes are a necessary evil when it comes to running a city - they go toward maintaining our roads and running our schools, protecting public safety and more.
I have heard loud and clear that taxes in our city are a significant burden for the average family. I also recognize that it’s hard to write a check to the city for property taxes when the taxpayers don’t have faith that their money is being spent wisely.
Mayor Koch feels taxes are just fine where they are, and even brags about how he is not taxing at the legal limit as if it is some comfort to already overburdened homeowners. Mayor Koch is aggressively defending his administration’s expenditure of $13.5 million on snow removal – double what Worcester spent and more than Lowell, Framingham and Brockton’s spending combined. Rather than evaluating the emergency management options and associated costs, his approach equates to continuing to write checks when theres no money in the account. We don’t do that in our own budget. Nor should your city government.
Stemming the increase in property taxes requires the vision necessary to leverage our city’s proximity to Boston to spur commercial development that will create new tax revenue while easing the property tax burden on homeowners.
FEMA Flood Maps
In 2012, when flood insurance debate was an emerging issue nationally, I along with my Council colleagues sponsored a seminar entitled: “Living in a Flood Plain.” In 2014, we all learned that Mayor Koch received the new maps and chose not to appeal them. 1,400 new homes were added and 2,700 homeowners moved into a higher risk range.
Whether you have an ocean view and a flood insurance policy or live high atop a hill, the Mayor’s failed response to FEMA’s flood maps cost money from your pocket. His executive decision not to appeal FEMA’s redrawn flood maps not only cost thousands of dollars in increased premiums for policy holders, but it also resulted in decreased property values for their homes. And decreased property values along the water means taxes city-wide have to be increased to make up the difference in revenue. He then, without City Council knowledge or approval, offered affected property owners an elevation certificate, which in most cases bought them nothing more than a mortgage commitment, and cost all tax payers in excess of $600,000.
As troubling as the financial consequences of this action is the fact that his decision not to appeal the maps was made without disclosing the availability of the maps or soliciting input from affected property owners is the most troubling. Can you imagine someone making a decision that impacts your wallet and home value and not asking you for your input? That’s exactly what Mayor Koch did.
My experience at the Federal level has provided me with a front row seat in municipalities across Massachusetts who have adopted best practices on a variety of issues. As Mayor, my first reaction to these flood maps would have been to consult other municipalities to learn what they have done to deal with FEMA’s redrawn flood maps. Had Mayor Koch done this, he would have had to look no further than Marshfield and Scituate. These small towns, with budgets a fraction of Quincy’s, were able to successfully appeal the re-drawn maps and saved millions of dollars for their residents. Boston, Chelsea, and Revere appealed their maps outright as well and while their appeals are not complete, they have protected property owners in their community from the impacts of flood insurance and diminishment of property values.
Instead of appealing these maps, Mayor Koch rubber-stamped them without public input to the detriment of families across our city. Not one of the Mayor’s many professional advisors or engineering firms have been held accountable for this egregious mistake.
As your Mayor I will always work to protect your most important asset: your home and find the best solutions for our city.
Our neighborhoods are one of Quincy’s greatest assets, and as your Mayor I will fight to protect their character and integrity every day I’m on the job. As the only candidate running for Mayor to serve as a City Councilor, I have a deep understanding of neighborhood issues. As a ward councilor, I used to say if you name a street in my ward, I can name someone who lives there and the issues that are important to them. As Mayor, you can rest assured I will keep my finger on the pulse of issues in your neighborhood.
Today, in neighborhoods across Quincy, we see development traditionally not permitted under current zoning being wedged into our neighborhoods and eroding their character. That means taking a hard line on zoning by variance that places commercial properties and apartment high rises where they are out of character and don’t belong. On traffic safety, I will identify accident prone intersections and areas of chronic speeding and put a plan in place with neighborhood input to make them safer. We will review parking rules and push for resident parking programs around MBTA stations. On the City Council, I coauthored a blight law to strengthen our ability to rid vacant and abandoned properties from neighborhoods. Like more than 170 other Massachusetts communities, we will create a pavement management plan based on an engineering analysis of every mile of roadway, and work to improve underground utility replacement as part of road projects. And we will begin the first citywide tree survey to begin to replace the thousands of trees we removed over the past decade.
Being a leader means staying in touch with residents so we are able to be proactive, rather than reactive, to address head on public health crises like substance abuse epidemic or the rat infestation the current administration tried to ignore.
One of the most important jobs of the Mayor is to manage the city in such a way that protects the biggest investment that many of us will ever have: our homes. Protecting property values starts with keeping our neighborhoods safe, clean places to live. I will treat your neighborhood as you do and take that responsibility seriously every single day I’m on the job.
Despite the seemingly endless construction in Quincy Center, much of it conveniently beginning during an election year after years of broken promises, it is time to re-evaluate the investment that the current administration is making with our tax dollars to support private enterprises. We have a public park planned in front of City Hall with no funding source and Quincy Center MBTA station garage closed since 2012 with no plan.
The failure of Streetworks, which most residents saw coming and the City Council called into question a year before its demise, created an opportunity for the City to take a step back an conduct a thorough and rigorous re-examination of the re-development of our downtown. Unfortunately that did not happen.
The kind of development being proposed today deserves greater public scrutiny and shouldn’t be rushed during an election year. If we are changing the vision - which clearly we are - it deserves a full public review.
The Administration’s current plans lack the public spaces, green space, public art and affordable housing we all bought into. There is currently no vision that leverages downtown investment in a way that benefits the City. Quincy Center is ten miles from Boston and ripe for a well thought out and sustainable investment program that harnesses the economic vitality opportunity we are seeing radiate from Boston, Somerville, Cambridge Chelsea and many other communities.
My vision for Quincy Center is one that stops leading with the City’s checkbook, harnesses our history, provides great walkable public spaces, convenient parking and destination retail that will draw Quincy residents back to our center and will once again make us a premiere destination on the south shore. Urban redevelopment is about transformative change that builds great places, protects our downtown’s character, and doesn’t away public spaces with little return.
Substance abuse, and specifically the opioid abuse epidemic, is a topic that many voters across the city speak about when I knock on their doors. Too many parents and grandparents have told me of their struggles with family members grappling with addiction. Too many young people have told me of losing multiple friends to drug abuse. Addicts aren’t bad people who we should turn our backs on as society and ignore. We need to attack this epidemic head on with creative solutions both large and small.
As your City Councillor I introduced an ordinance to require city pharmacies to post drug take back locations at the point of sale in their stores. Statistics show that many addicts had their first experience with opioids when they found an old prescription in the medicine cabinet and decided to experiment. This won’t solve the problem facing Quincy, but it will hopefully make it that much harder for someone to start abusing painkillers.
As your Mayor, I won’t blame Congress for not acting. We will focus on what is within our control. I will bring the best community based models to Quincy and be a strong voice pressuring the Commonwealth to establish community based tools that help us win the fight. Communities like Gloucester, Weymouth, and Stoughton are taking leadership roles on this issue. Quincy can too.
Imagine if the current administration had put the same energy and focus on this epidemic as they did the Olympics. Instead of creating new problems for our city, I want to focus on the problems we already have. While the Olympics may have been a big sensational event it would unnecessarily take focus off of the things that are important for us to do now. Opiate abuse calls for a big response and big solutions. Instead of participating in the Olympics we should have been talking about the need for Communities across the Commonwealth focusing on this epidemic that has touched so many of our lives. My administration will do just that.