BOS candidates vie for votes

Above: The Selectmen section of this week’s Candidates Night. (Thanks to Southborough Access Media for pulling out that segment of their video for my readers.)

A crowded room of voters got the chance to hear from candidates for Town Clerk and the Board of Selectmen this week. To give them all a fair share of the limelight, I’m splitting my coverage into two posts. This one will focus on the Board of Selectmen’s race.

For the new candidates running for office, increasing transparency and cooperation in government were priorities. The outlier was Board of Selectmen Chair Bill Boland who referred to transparency as “the latest buzz word”.

Boland defended the Town government’s transparency, saying he doesn’t “really see” a problem. Referring to meeting postings and televised meetings, he argued that for a small town with a lot of committees, they do a good job of keeping the public informed. He did promise that planned enhancements to the town website will allow people to sign up for notices of upcoming meetings.

Desiree Aselbekian promised to bring a new strategic vision with a focus on community. She stressed a need for more transparency and improved services.

The candidate said that many of the town’s problems are rooted in lack of vision. She claimed that most town departments don’t have long-range operational and capital plans. And she pointed to binders full of past town studies, plans and surveys “that we have spent thousands of dollars on . . . sitting there” and going unused.

Aselbekian pledged she would seek strategic plans for each department with a ten year forecast. She hopes to facilitate communication between departments and the community to do that. She summed up:

If you want more of the same, my two opponents clearly fit the bill. If you want someone who is bold, honest and is willing to speak, unafraid and stand up for what’s right in our community, then I’m your gal.

Referring to Aselbekian’s and Boland’s boasted 4th generation town roots, candidate Brian Shea said he intends to be a “rest of my lifer”.

Shea and his wife chose to move into town 20 years ago. Since then, he has been an active participant in the community through church, sports and town committees.

The candidate said he believed the town needs more perspectives. He referred to himself as someone willing to take the time to

learn about the issues, think through them, and then not be afraid to offer an opinion and stand up for what [he believes] in after.

Boland focused on what he called a strong record. The incumbent said that for over nine years he’s voted to in best interest of the town. During his tenure, the BOS has worked to:

continue to provide the excellent services our taxpayers expect while keeping tax increases to a minimum.

And he pointed that the board has kept the town “$2 million under our levy capacity” while other towns are seeking overrides.

Candidates answered questions about capital investment priorities, transparency, “demolition by neglect”, transportation challenges and “complete streets”. Attached are my highlights from their responses.

*Editor’s note: One question was muddied by incorrect details about the disputes between the Open Space Preservation Commission and the Board of Selectmen. Since it wasn’t corrected and I’m sharing the video, I feel the need to help clarify that issue below:

Someone incorrectly stated that the BOS had charged OSPC $750 for public records then voted at Town Meeting against the budget to pay for those records.

In fact, the board did vote 2-1 to charge OSPC $249.20 for a public records request. (You can read about that here. Note that John Rooney and Paul Cimino were absent from that meeting.)

The $750 budget dispute was a separate matter. This spring, OSPC asked for 4 times their past budget of $250. The BOS didn’t support it, stating they didn’t understand what the increase was for. Advisory supported the increase. At Town Meeting Jim Hegarty explained that Advisory was upset to learn that OSPC had to pay for public records.

OSPC member Freddie Gillespie then clarified for voters that with other hard work behind them, they now plan to hold more events and offerings to the public. That is what most of the funds are for. (Gillespie claimed they didn’t present to the BOS, because an explanation wasn’t requested.)

With that new information, Selectmen recast their votes and reversed their position.

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9 years ago

“Boland defended the Town government’s transparency, saying he doesn’t “really see” a problem” and that, people of Southboro is the problem in and of itself.

We should have term limits and if we did, we wouldn’t even be looking at Boland. Time for change. Time for somebody who is going to work to bring this town a reality check and work for the people, not their own agendas. As long as we keep the same, there will be more of the same.

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