Councilwoman plans to bring Brandeis closer to Waltham community

January 26, 2018

Waltham Councilwoman Kristine Mackin ’14, elected Nov. 2017, plans on improving relations between Brandeis and the Waltham community while serving as the ward seven representative, which includes Brandeis University and several surrounding neighborhoods.

Mackin is a Brandeis alumni, who graduated with a PhD in biochemistry in 2014. She currently works full time at Decision Resources Group analyzing data on health care and health care providers and synthesizing it into reports.

Elected under the promise of increased transparency and accessibility, Mackin represents Brandeis students and Waltham citizens in ward seven and is focusing on three issues that will likely affect Brandeis students: public transportation, housing and communication between the university and the community. As of the last council session, no resolutions have been passed on Mackin’s three core issues.

Mackin would like to coordinate the transportation services, according to an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. Mackin hopes that by increasing access to public transportation services, traffic congestion in Waltham will decrease. This type of initiative is included in the city council’s current transportation plan, which Mackin is championing.

“Waltham as a whole needs to start to grapple with this traffic problem and it has to be a question of infrastructure and of public transit. And that’s why I hope… we can start coordinating the shuttle service,” Mackin said. “I’d like to see Waltham invest in a program like that and expand it because every person we get on public transit is a car off the road.”

Housing in Waltham is another issue Mackin hopes to tackle in her two-year term as city councilwoman. She hopes to smooth relations between students living off campus and neighboring residents by opening a dialogue between the two groups. Mackin herself has experienced the difficulties of off-campus living as a graduate student studying Biochemistry at Brandeis University.

According to Mackin, housing rates have been rising in Waltham with less available space, and she hopes to be able to expand available housing as well as moderate rates. Mackin would also like to establish a liaison for Brandeis students to contact about Waltham housing rates, codes and rules. Mackin plans to speak with graduate students about the issue of housing in February.

“I think it would really benefit a lot of the students if they had somebody they could pick up the phone and talk to who know the Waltham housing laws and the Waltham housing market,” Mackin said.

Brandeis currently has a website detailing resources for undergraduate off-campus living as well as a Graduate student’s resource page. Graduate students can contact the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Affairs, Steven Weglinski, for housing questions.

Mackin’s third goal is to streamline communication between Brandeis and Waltham, especially regarding service initiatives. She hopes to establish a web interface to simplify coordination between Waltham and Brandeis groups, and in the long term would like to create a new position in the council to act as a coordinator.

“I’d like to take…sort of a holistic look at all of those [community service] programs to try to be more proactive about advertising them to the campus community and be more proactive about seeing where the needs are and what the opportunities are to cooperate,” Mackin said.

As a short term goal, Mackin plans on creating a community calendar and updating the council website with a better search function for easier access to council minutes and resolutions.

The city council is pursuing other initiatives including creating a new high school in Waltham and the development of a new office building in the office park on Wyman street.

Mackin was elected in Nov. 2017 against the incumbent, Joseph Giordano, who was ward seven city councilor for 18 years and ran unopposed for eight, according to Giordano’s Facebook page and Mackin.

The city council usually meets every Monday, and their next meeting is Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. where they will meet in smaller committees. The full council will meet Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Mackin can be contacted at kmackin@mackinward7.com, the city council website and her council phone number at (781) 786-8569.

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