PROVINCETOWN — Leslie Sandberg has ideas to address the town’s housing crisis: dedicate to housing a portion of the short-term rental tax that currently goes into the general fund and possibly some of the marijuana dispensary fees as well.
She has an idea for how get voters to approve a new police station: scrap the old plan, go back to the original amount the town approved, $8.6 million, and see if a station can be practically built at that price. Trying to get approval for the same $12.5-million design that failed by nine votes in 2019 is not going to work, she said.
“Voters said it was too large,” she said. “I don’t think it’s good government to push something down people’s throats.”
She named the housing crisis, climate change, and post-pandemic recovery as important focuses for the select board.
Sandberg, 58, a native of Minnesota, said her two opponents have similar priorities.
“I think the difference is, I can get it done,” she said. “I’m not doing this because I think it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard. But I care.”
Sandberg, a full-time Provincetown resident since 2015, got a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University in 1985 and a master’s in public policy and broadcasting from American University in Washington D.C. in 1991. She had stage-four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 23.
She worked for NBC News and then as a media affairs coordinator with a company called Wireless Data Systems, which helped Bill Clinton deliver paid air-time messages to the major networks.
When her sister became severely ill, she returned to Minnesota to help the family and there began work as press secretary for that state’s Attorney General Hubert Horatio “Skip” Humphrey III. She then worked for his successor, Mike Hatch, spending 10 years in the A.G.’s office. During that time, she came out in Minneapolis’s Lavender Magazine.
Upon the death of her father, Sandberg took over his real estate company in St. Paul, which ran a mixed-use warehouse on the Mississippi River and parking lots.
Sandberg is married to Kathleen “Kass” Goodwin, who serves on the Provincetown Finance Committee. When her mother and Goodwin’s mother both died within three months of each other, the pair decided to sell their homes, trade up a 670-square-foot condominium Sandberg owned in Provincetown, and move here full-time.
Sandberg was communications strategist for the campaign of Truro Democrat Julian Cyr, a young and long-shot candidate for state senate. When he won in 2016, she became his senior adviser for three years. Most recently, she founded a strategic communications firm, Rose, Sandberg & Associates, with Sally Rose, a former editor of the Provincetown Banner.
They have three clients currently, the town of Eastham, where they are helping with public engagement on possible uses of the former T-Time driving range on Route 6; they’re helping the Housing Assistance Corp. write a strategic plan, and they’re consulting to the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod. Sandberg handled communications for Provincetown’s Public Pier Corp. for a few months, until July 2020. From July 2020 to March 31, 2021, her company provided public relations for the Provincetown Board of Health, earning $50 an hour for about 20 to 40 hours a month. She gave up that assignment to run for the select board.
“My main priority is to start a new chapter,” said Sandberg. “We have a new town manager. He deserves to have a board that gets along, works collaboratively, and is mission-driven.”
In this time, she said, it’s not so much picking priorities but executing them. Which, she said, takes an experienced consensus builder and communicator.
“My strategy would be ‘How do we get to yes, guys?’ ”
The housing battle must be fought regionally, she said. Year-round economic viability could be improved by “broadband, broadband, broadband,” she said. The Outer Cape should fight for some of that $41 million just granted to Barnstable County from the federal rescue package to build internet access.
“I am not a Pollyanna by any means,” she said. “I’ve seen the hard fights. I’m battle tested. You just have to keep the perspective of why we’re there. Remember — it’s about the town.”
Candidate Sandberg’s campaign website is lesliesandberg.com.