Haller cites experience, advocacy
Incumbent faces challenger in District 4
October 4, 2007
By Lee Hammel TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
Reprinted from the Worcester Telegram article
WORCESTER The way Barbara G. Haller sees it,
the District 4 City Council election campaign is about
experience versus rhetoric.
And Ms. Haller has experience not only in being the
three-term incumbent, but in defeating her challenger,
Lynne Simonds, in two elections. Ms. Haller won by 271
votes two years ago, and by 649 votes in 1973, when
Ms. Simonds ran a write-in campaign.
She said, I have a record of accomplishment that
has moved the district forward, a district that
she calls the most vibrant in the city. Retired three
years ago from National Grid (formerly New England Electric)
as supervisor of meter testing, the electrical engineer
promised to continue being a full-time city councilor.
The first accomplishment she lists is successful advocacy
for saving community policing when budget times were tough
this year. Ms. Haller said she is also particularly proud
of the work she has done to get the city administration to
crack down on persistent problem properties, whether
in Housing Court for code violations or criminal court for
Asserting that District 4 has more neighborhood organizations
than any other district in the city, she said she played an
important role in the formation and support of such neighborhood
associations as East Highland Area, Elm Park-Lincoln Estates,
and Chandler Business Association. She prides herself on being
a founding member of Worcester Lead Action Collaborative,
which is channeling $3.8 million into reducing the risk of
lead poisoning in the citys children.
Ms. Haller said three of the five Neighborhood Revitalization
Strategy Areas that channel federal funds into improving neighborhoods
in the city are in District 4.
A VISTA volunteer 40 years ago, Ms. Haller, 58, takes credit
for playing a leadership role in the debate in the city over
services for homeless people. A member of the City Managers
Task Force on Homelessness as well as chairwoman of the City
Councils Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee,
Ms. Haller said parts of District 4 have too many such services.
Of the debate over where such services should be, she said,
It doesnt bother me that its not pretty.
I think these are issues that people have very strong feelings
about and need to be able to express those feelings on all
sides of the issue.
Ms. Haller said, Im not anti-social services.
Im anti-unmanaged social services industry, an industry
that allows for neighborhoods to be overwhelmed, whether by
siting of social services or by the people who have failed
in their programs.
She called for implementing the entire 2005 report of the
Mayors Social Service Task Force, of which she was a
member. The task force called upon social service agencies
to voluntarily adhere to siting guidelines, for the state
to develop a mandatory requirement for the agencies to do
so, and for the city to establish a liaison to ensure that
the agencies adhere to that.
Ms. Haller advocates for managed local control for
social service sitings, programs and accountability: Are they
producing the effect we need to have them produce? It is not
But Ms. Haller said, I am pleased there appears to
be some good progress at the PIP shelter since SMOC took over.
While the People in Peril homelessness shelter is an
obsolete model, she said, the census there is falling
and South Middlesex Opportunity Council seems to be moving
toward their commitment to close the shelter.
The three-term councilor is a big fan of City Manager Michael
V. OBrien, and she and Councilor-at-Large Joseph M.
Petty gave him the highest marks of the 11 councilors in his
annual evaluation this year.
Ms. Haller said there was never a fiscal crisis in the city
government this year, but only open and transparent
government in which residents saw the councilors get
to work solving the potential $21 million deficit of which
Mr. OBrien warned them late last year.
She said the requirement that she and the majority of the
council approved for retired city employees to give up city
health insurance, in favor of Medicare, was a reform
that needed to be done.
Ms. Haller, who is about to become a grandmother for the
second time, said she has voted for the lowest residential
tax rate all five times she had the opportunity.
She said if it were necessary to avoid a downward spiral
of cutting community policing or a fire recruit class, she
would vote to raise taxes instead, but added, Im
very pleased we didnt have to.