Just to get this out of the way, I should say that I know Lisa socially and would consider her a friend. Though our conversations don't generally involve politics (they more often involve me making a dumb joke about kayak-related head injuries or something), I can at least say that she's extremely bright, personable, and would probably make a kick-ass mayor. But I'll try to keep my personal experience with her to the side in my posts here.
Anyway, here's some stuff from the Fitchburg Pride:
Lisa Wong, the former director of the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority, said this morning that she is running for mayor, injecting a new dynamic into the race.Eek! I didn't actually know she was a trained economist. Generally I rank economists alongside astrologers and voodoo priestesses (at least when it comes to economic predictions), but it actually is a useful background to have when it comes to managing city finances. And city finances at the moment are not being managed at all well.
Wong, during an interview this morning, said she feels the city is facing an internal financial crisis and expects that to be her top priority, but also feels the budget strain is overshadowing positive developments in Fitchburg.
"I want to manage the crisis, but help Fitchburg reach its potential," Wong said. "As a trained economist, I will be looking at how to run the city efficiently and effectively."
It's also nice to have someone running who has actually worked to improve the city. We've already got candidates courting the malcontents who just want a change for the sake of change, so it's good to have someone in the race who has actually worked to bring about positive changes and hasn't merely talked about all the things that are wrong.
Wong also did the thing every damn candidate since the beginning of time has done and said she wants to encourage business investment. Yawn...
Wong said she wants to encourage business investment in the city, and also create residential investment in the city.Holy crap, citizen involvement! Relying on people to better their own community instead of just bitching about it. Very nice.
"I'm a proponent of smart growth, meaning growth that is beneficial to the city," Wong said. "We want to make sure anyone who moves to the city is part of the city."
Wong said as successes build, the goal will be to improve the reputation of downtown.I'd argue that downtown Fitchburg is not currently a "vibrant cultural center". It could be, it should be, but at present it just isn't. However, I do agree that the reputation of downtown needs to be improved. For whatever reason, people in Fitchburg seem to spend a lot of time badmouthing it. While there are obviously problems that need to be fixed, half the stuff they focus on as being negative isn't even true (for instance, crime).
"The first thing is creating an identity for downtown for what downtown is," Wong said. "It's a vibrant cultural center."
While we actually do have a decent museum, it's cursed by its location. We also lack any good music venues. While the Common Ground coffeehouse apparently hosts bands, my understanding is that they're Christian bands (which aren't really a big draw for anybody but hardcore Christians). A lot more could be done with downtown to get it towards being as vibrant as Wong would like, and hopefully as mayor she could help to make some of those things happen.
Honestly, even if I didn't know Lisa socially I'd almost certainly support her. She's got brains, ability, a proven track record, and a vision for Fitchburg that's actually positive. We'll see how things progress as her platform comes out, but this development makes me much more hopeful about Fitchburg's future.