Manisha is an experienced city planner who has worked with dozens of cities and towns across the Commonwealth as well as local governments outside Massachusetts. Throughout her career, her role has included facilitating conversations around change, providing forums for community members to hear each other’s perspectives, and bringing those perspectives together into data-informed policy solutions. Recently, she was a Senior Program Manager at the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, where she provided assistance to cities and towns to plan for and develop affordable housing. For nearly a decade, she was employed at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, where she worked as a consultant for the City of Melrose Office of Planning and Community Development. She assisted the City with developing transit-oriented zoning changes around the three commuter rail stations, which were adopted in 2014. In 2015, she began work on Melrose Forward: A Community Vision and Master Plan. This work has given her insight into the city’s assets, competitive advantages, and challenges. She learned that Melrose is a small city that does a lot with a little. Over the coming years, people in Melrose will weigh options for investing in schools, services, local roads, infrastructure systems, and facilities. Manisha is ready to lead the charge.
As a City Councilor-At-Large, Manisha is currently the Chair of the Finance Committee and the Vice Chair of the Legal and Legislative Committee. She serves as the council representative to the Water and Sewer Rate Committee and the Library Strategic Planning Committee. During her tenure, she’s applied her expertise in city planning to the variety of issues that have come before the City Council, including affordable housing, sewer and water infrastructure, dockless bike sharing, snow removal, recreational marijuana zoning, investing in the city’s school, library, and public safety buildings, climate change and energy efficiency, and the city budget. She presented the "city side" of the budget to Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and at Parent University in the winter and spring of 2019, prior to the Proposition 2 1/2 vote.
When she was elected in November 2017, she was the first person of color ever elected to serve the City of Melrose. In her role as a City Councilor, she was invited to represent Melrose for the Urban Land Institute's UrbanPlan Public Leadership Institute in 2018. She represented Melrose on a national stage as a panelist at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies' inaugural Women's Collective Summit in Washington, DC in July 2019.
Manisha is a champion of Melrose’s “One Community Open to All” motto and prior to her service as a Councilor she was the Vice Chair of the Melrose Human Rights Commission (MHRC). In September 2018 she brought forward a resolution asking her colleagues to endorse Yes on 3 to reaffirm local and state non-discrimination laws prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Councilor Bewtra made the resolution available online and many other cities and towns referenced Melrose’s resolution when adopting their own. She served as the keynote at the city’s first-ever Diwali celebration in 2018. When she served on the MHRC prior to her election, Manisha was involved in many of the Commission’s community events and have assisted with the Commission’s social media presence. She organized a Cultural Proficiency Workshop for the public and the Mayor chose to hire the same trainer to conduct similar workshops for City Hall staff. In 2016, she helped to organize the first Community Iftar dinner during Ramadan. She has hosted families in her home to discuss how to better support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community members. Her voice, informed by her identity as an Indian-American woman and by her training in anti-racism, being an LGBTQ+ ally, and social justice, added a different perspective to conversations among Commissioners and now among the City Council. She knows what it’s like to be a minority and she is also aware of ways in which she is privileged. As a Councilor-At-Large, she brings this unique perspective to build bridges between people in the community.
Manisha's experience in local government and specific knowledge of Melrose gives her an understanding of the nuances of the local decision-making. She is deeply committed to Melrose and values excellent schools and city services, well-cared for facilities and infrastructure, and a welcoming and inclusive community. She has the skills, enthusiasm, and voice to serve Melrose well as the city’s next Mayor, and she will work hard to earn your vote at the municipal primary on September 17, 2019.