Just a few weeks into office, state Rep. Jenny Armini addressed major concerns with sustainability, clean energy, the cost of housing, and mental health in Marblehead.
When it comes to sustainability, Armini understands ” it’s not a task for one person or one organization” but rather, a community-wide effort.
“We have to manage the damage that’s already occurred and that means shoring up our coastal structures. We’re seeing much more fierce weather than we ever have before more often. So, our coastal structures take a beating,” said Armini.
According to Armini, the next step should include reducing the reliance on fossil fuels in the Marblehead Municipal Light Departments’ (MLLD) energy mix.
“Now, that’s obviously not something that I control or have influence on, but it’s certainly something that is important. It’s hugely, hugely important! and I know that our Lightboard is, you know, has the oversight for MLLD and is working really hard on this. So that over time, we have a clean grid,” said Armini.
The next step would be to work on promoting the transition of cars and homes from gas and oil to electric with help from the state to provide tools in the form of carrots and sticks.
“We (State Government) can create incentives to make it easier for people to buy electric cars and appliances. We can make it easier for people to take public transportation by having it be safe, accessible, and affordable,” said Armini.
According to Armini, “It’s up to the government to help provide assistance to make that transition happen. “You know, Marblehead is a town a very, very old town with a very, very old housing stock. And it’s not easy to transition old homes from say oil and gas to electric so you know, the government has to provide the incentives to make that happen so that it is affordable for people to actually do it,” said Armini.
The goal is to get Massachusetts to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The policies moving forward are geared towards reaching that goal.
“In the last session of the legislature, you had a really ambitious climate bill that gave communities more tools and also made a big investment in wind energy. So remember, we’re talking about having Marblehead Municipal Light, decrease its reliance on fossil fuels in the energy mix, but that means there has to be clean energy available to Marblehead to purchase,” she said.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts made a big investment in wind power, to build the wind industry for more clean energy to be available for Marbleheaders to purchase but Armini, agrees with Sustainable Marblehead, that Marblehead should be even more ambitious and try to get to net zero by 2040- 10 years earlier than the state goal.
Per the last climate bill stating that in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the sale of new combustion engines will cease by 2035. Armini believes financial incentives will help both Marblehead and Lynn residents who are struggling financially to adapt their homes and their cars to this new reality. In the transition period until 2035, the state is going to have to create safe, affordable infrastructure to go along with these goals.
When it comes to public transportation, Lynn being a public transportation hub Armini plans on making it a better option, “Our goal is to electrify commuter rail, right, bring back this ferry, have buses going down to Wonderland so that people can feel comfortable making the choice to use public transportation to go to work or a doctor’s appointment or recreation. We have to make public transportation more a better option for people so that maybe they won’t even get behind the wheel of their car. They’ll take the ferry to Boston,” she said.
Since Marblehead doesn’t not have a commuter rail, Armini understands wind is an important transportation hub for Marblehead and Swampscott because as Mabrleheaders travel to Boston, Lynn is the first big transportation hub on your way.
“If we can take advantage of the infrastructure that’s there and build that out, electrify it, make it environmentally friendly because Lynn is an environmental justice corridor. So, it’s super important that the commuter rail is electrified. That we stop belching diesel pollution into the air,” she said.
Along with her sustainability concerns, Armini is very concerned about the cost of housing in Marblehead, “In just the few weeks that you know, the two-plus weeks I’ve been officially in office I have received several phone calls from constituents who are having a very hard time paying for rent, paying their mortgage,” said Armini.
” A lot of these folks are older. They have lived in Marblehead for many decades and they want to continue to live in Marblehead. The waitlist for senior housing is long and people are scared,” she added.
Armini’s solution to the problem would consist of building more housing. ” You know, this is a supply-demand problem, and Marblehead and Swampscott are both beaching communities. So, I think we have to pay special attention when there is an opportunity to build housing to make sure that it’s affordable in part, not all you know, not everything needs to be affordable, but components and really, you know, take advantage of those opportunities when they come,” said Armini.
In the next two years, Armini would like to see Marblehead provide kids with the resources they need to get back up to learning at grade level and to deal with the social and emotional impact of the pandemic.
“We have many kids, many adults too who are struggling with mental health issues and I think as a community, my goal would be to make people in the next two years make people full and safe and, you know, healthy again in every way,” she said.
For that matter, Armini plans on investing more in the Marblehead Counseling Center, that since 1969 has provided services for people struggling regardless of their ability to pay.
“It’s a model that’s worked for a long time now. It just needs more support. To serve more people,” said Armini.
“That’s pretty special. I’m inclined to see us invest more in the Counseling Center. So, that the center can serve even more people than it does today because they have a very long waiting list,” she added.