Candidates talk communication, town manager legislation, more at Candidates’ Night

by susan on May 3, 2012

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Above: Candidates for Selectmen Leo Bartolini Jr. (left) and Bill Boland (right) answer questions from voters

It was a pretty mellow evening at the Southborough Library last night as candidates for town elections introduced themselves to voters at the annual Candidates’ Night. No big drama, no real snark, just candidates asking for a vote.

Improved communicaiton was a theme of the night, with most candidates saying the town faces communication problems of one sort of another. Gerald Capra, who is running unopposed for a seat on the K-8 School Committee, and Leo Bartolini, Jr. who is vying for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, both pointed to recent communication breakdowns between the School Committee and other town boards. Andrew Mills and Sam Stivers, who are competing for a seat on the Planning Board, spoke to communication issues among boards involved in the permitting process.

The candidates for Board of Selectmen – Bartolini and incumbent Bill Boland – differed on their opinions of the proposed town manager legislation, which failed by a slim margin at Town Meeting last month. Bartolini, who was a member of the committee that drafted the legislation and who submitted a minority report in opposition to the proposal, told voters he supports a five member Board of Selectmen, but felt the town would give up too much control if it had a town manager.

Boland said he supported the proposal despite advice that it wasn’t a smart move politically. “I’m told a lot of people might not be able to support me any longer because of my position on that,” he said. “My goal is always to make a decision that is in the best interest of the town.”

The only tense moment at last night’s forum came when resident Chris Robbins, founder of the Southborough Economic Development Team, challenged Planning Board hopeful Sam Stivers on allegations that he mistreated applicants before the Zoning Board of Appeals during his term as chairman. They’re allegations that led selectmen to not renew Stivers’ term on the board last June.

“The data does not support those allegations. I’m prepared to stand on my record,” Stivers responded calmly. “We did a lot of good projects.”

The Metrowest Daily News has a nice recap of the discussion with the two candidates for selectman, so I’ll point you there for more details. Town elections are Monday, May 14. A full list of candidates is available in this post.

For those of you who were at the forum last night, what did you think? Did the discussion clarify your opinions of the candidates? Are there questions you wanted to see asked that weren’t? Share your thoughts in the comments.

1 Curious May 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM

I was unable to attend the canidate’s meeting. Did Mr Bartolini say why he put up the motion to indefinitely postpone the whole article if he was actually in favor on half of it? I think he could have made a motion ti split the article into two pieves so he could have voted with his support to have 5 selectmen.

2 susan May 3, 2012 at 12:42 PM

I don’t recall that he addressed the issue, but others can feel free to correct me if I missed it.

3 Al Hamilton May 3, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Elections can often be seen as a referendum on the incumbent when one exists. Bill Boland has served our community in a number of positions over the years. There is no question in my mind that he cares deeply about Southborough and is motivated to serve.

I believe that Bill had done a number of things well. The two that come immediately to mind was his efforts in getting Neary renovated in a cost effective way. I also support his tireless defense of our regional high school agreement. On the other side, I was very disappointed when he opposed posting a link to the Advisory web site on the Towns web site. I also think he needs to be held to account for his role in the Uno Gate debacle. He was present and was the senior supervisor at the table. Finally one of the things that has come out of the Town Manager discussions is the fact the BOS has always had the authority to delegate substantial authority to the Town Administrator and yet this has not been done.

In the past I believe that BOS members viewed their roles as hands on managers. The transition to a board that is committed to taking a more executive approach with the TA taking on additional authority and responsibilities began with John Rooney’s election I have spoken at length with Lee Bartolini and he is committed to continuing this transition and more importantly make it work. That is why I am supporting Lee Bartolini for Selectman. I think we need to give a Strong TA model the best chance for success and Lee offers the best chance for that success.

4 Taylor Tyler May 4, 2012 at 7:29 AM

SB Residents, make a Freedom Of Information Act request and get the ALL of the legal bills (town attorney, labor attorney and any other attorney hired) from the town. You will be astonished and will see there are many issues that are kept from the public, beyond PizzaGate and so forth that many will find unsettling. Have you noticed that every BOS meeting lately seems to end in executive session? The level of hypocrisy by several town officials making decisions based on what is in their best interest and not the town’s will cost the residents of Southborough for many years to come. Their failure to properly deal with serious problems after they are brought to their attention only makes it worse over time. They then spend thousands upon thousands of taxpayer dollars to pay for the legal problems that arise due to their delibrate inaction. Get the bills and demand answers; It’s your money not theirs. Good Luck.

5 southsider May 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM

If you already have this information, why not simply provide it. What specifically do you think we’ll all find astonishing and unsettling?

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