Lise on the Issues
Top Three Priorities
For the League of Women Voters of Wellesley Voters Guide
Why are you running for this office? What are your top priorities?
I’m honored to be current Vice Chair of the Select Board, working on behalf of Wellesley residents since 2019. I’m running for re-election to keep our town moving forward with a focus on inclusivity, civility, and resilience, as we continue to address the challenges of COVID and work to become a more welcoming community.
Vibrant business districts invigorated by diverse and attainable housing options that attract newcomers and workers, and accommodate downsizers.
Promote dialogue through Wellesley Civil Discourse Initiative to create greater understanding and connection even when we’re addressing tough questions.
Develop equitable and environmentally sustainable strategies to build resilience as we work to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis here in Wellesley.
Remarks for Sustainable Wellesley's Conversation with the Candidates
Please Introduce Yourself
I’m Lise Olney – I’ve lived in Wellesley for almost 30 years and some of you may know me from my eight years on the board of Sustainable Wellesley. I stepped off that board when I was elected to the Select Board in 2019.
It’s been an honor to serve in town government for three years on the Select Board, eight years as a Town Meeting Member, and five years on the Natural Resources Commission. The issue that drives me has always been how to live with respect for each other and for our natural world.
Representing the Select Board on the Climate Action Committee, I helped develop the Town’s Climate Action Plan that serves as a roadmap for achieving our ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s going to take all of us – working together – to make sure we achieve those goals and I look forward to continued collaboration with everyone in our community to make sure we get there.
1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?
As a member of the Select Board, I proposed the Resolution to Address the Impact of Climate Change which was passed in 2020 by Town Meeting. This resolution embedded emissions reductions as a consideration at every level of our Town government, and set the stage for the emissions reduction goals passed by Town Meeting in 2021. But I recognize that achieving our goals will require action way beyond Wellesley. So I helped develop a regional initiative on gas leaks (the Multi-Town Gas Leaks Initiative) that convenes municipal officials and advocates for an ongoing dialogue with our gas company – National Grid. I’ve also represented the Select Board at the State House in support of environmental legislation to advance our goals. And for many years, I’ve volunteered as a grassroots organizer on state and national campaigns to elect candidates who prioritize the transition to a clean and just energy future.
2. How do you see sustainability and climate change as factors in the development of policy for the Town of Wellesley and what specific initiatives are you planning to help Wellesley meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals?
I believe we have a great opportunity to address overlapping goals for the environment, housing, and economic vibrancy of the town by taking another look at redeveloping two properties directly under Select Board authority – the two parking lots that straddle the railroad tracks in Wellesley Square. We need to consider the greatest and best use of these prime spots in the heart of our town.
I’ve heard concerns that redevelopment might affect nearby neighborhoods, traffic flow, and the look and feel of the town center. But I’ve also seen how towns like ours are figuring this out all over the state – working to address transportation-related emissions and increase housing options, while building stronger town centers. We need to bring more people into our commercial districts to create more vibrancy and I believe that together – with a thoughtful and inclusive process, we can come up with creative solutions.
3. Given that the Select Board is responsible for making appointments to several important town committees, what will you do to ensure that at least some members of these committees will advocate for an environmental perspective on issues under consideration?
Recruiting Wellesley residents to serve on boards and committees is a really important responsibility of the Select Board – and we need to continue to broaden our reach. The Climate Action Committee provided a great model by engaging with people across our community in developing the Climate Action Plan – and some of those folks could be tapped for future appointments. Also, I initiated and now serve on the Town’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force; the Wellesley Freedom Team; and the Wellesley Civil Discourse Initiative – and these are all projects that are engaging people who have never been involved in town government before. As a result, we have a great opportunity to encourage these participants to stay involved and to bring their perspectives – not just to our climate goals – but also to help create a stronger and more welcoming community.