A crowded room of voters got the chance to hear from candidates for Town Clerk and the Board of Selectmen last week. To give them all a fair share of the limelight, I split my coverage into two posts. This one focuses on the Town Clerk’s race.
Both candidates spoke of more than 20 years of living in Southborough, many of them volunteering in service to the community. And both spoke of time spent researching and preparing for the hoped responsibility.
Doriann Jasinski told voters that she’s spent “countless hours” in another Town Clerk’s office. Jim Hegarty said he’d “spent a good deal of time” with clerks from three neighboring towns and in the Secretary of State’s office .
Jasinski pitched her commitment to the community in leadership roles and strong organizational skills. (She founded and led the Southborough Education Foundation, chaired the Scholarship Advisory Committee which she has served for 15 years, and co-chaired the town’s care package Troop Drives.)
The candidate’s credentials also included past work on campaigns, 13 years of experience working with the Town Clerk’s office on elections. (She is currently the Election Warden of Precinct 2.)
Jim Hegarty focused on his enjoyment of public service, including his 29 years as an FBI agent. Hegarty pitched his intent to improve online access and increase voter participation, especially young voters:
You look around Town Meeting and it’s rare to see a face under 40 years old. Look at all the 18 year old kids who aren’t voting, and aren’t really getting introduced to public service. I’d like to tap into that.
In town government he’s chaired the Recreation Commission and has served on the Advisory Committee for six years. He’s also volunteered for the church and coaching both youth and ARHS sports.
In answer to what is the most important attribute of Town Clerk
Hegarty focused on the clerk’s role as “the face of Southborough” and the town’s “complaint center”. He followed that when people come to the clerk, you want them to see:
somebody who’s going to be welcoming, I think you want someone who can say ‘no’ with a smile, and someone who’ll listen to you . . .
and try and address and help you with those issues. . .
He said that years working for the FBI taught him that when people are emotional,
you let the that wave crash over you, let the emotion get out of the argument. And I think you need someone that will remove emotion from discussion, deal with the facts, and follow up precisely.
Jasinski said she agreed with Hegarty. She said that the clerk’s main role is to serve the town, and that person should be friendly and a great listener.
You’re not going to make everybody happy, but you’re going to do the best you can. . .
It’s all about the people and taking care of them, and being good to them, and treating them fairly.
Both candidates had moments of caution in answering questions.
Moderator John Wilson stumped the candidates with a question about this coming election. One candidate for the Board of Health that will be listed on the ballot has withdrawn. Wilson asked if they cared to guess what will happen if she gets the most votes.
Jasinski said she “believed” that if the candidate has withdrawn, the competitor would win as long as he got a vote. Hegarty said there was a reason the former clerk had a stack of law books behind his desk. He declined to guess, asserting, “only a fool guesses at a law.”
A member of the audience claimed to know the answer. She said a friend who withdrew his candidacy for another town’s office was elected anyway.
[Editor’s Note: Interim Town Clerk Michelle Jenkins tells me that the candidate, Rose Mauro, has submitted papers stating that she will not seek office, and won’t accept it if elected.]
Asked about increasing online access to records, Hegarty was greatly in favor of improved access to records like minutes. “Information only has value if citizens have it in time to act upon it.” He acknowledged that even Advisory doesn’t get minutes on within 10 days, since they don’t meet that often. But he plans to look into more records online and safer storage of records.
Jasinski said that more Open Meeting Law training should take place. She believes that people are breaking the laws without even knowing it. As for making changes in the office, she would need to work “hands on” before deciding. “To change for the sake of change is not the right way either.”
Updated (5/5/15 11:10 am): In revising the piece, I meant to delete the following line from the story. Instead, I only deleted the attribution to Doriann Jasinski. Since it was placed under a line about Hegarty, it seemed to indicate it was his statement. Apologies to both candidates.
It was Jasinski who stated:
I see the Town Clerk’s position as the next step in my efforts to serve this community in a meaningful way, utilizing my best skills in leading, organizing and accomplishing needed change where necessary.
I couldn’t make it candidates night. I have in fact managed to speak to every candidate either at the dump or someplace else in town except Doriann Jasinski. I am reluctant to vote for her if I don’t know her and can’t talk to her.
Would be happy to speak with you. I must have missed you on prior dates at the transfer station. I will be there this Saturday most of the day.
Would you be so kind as to reveal the source of your email list used Sunday night to send a political solicitation out to voters in Southborough?
Sounds like you should Answer Matthew’s question first. I will be at the transfer station on Saturday.