Yesterday, Selectman Brian Shea posted a comment on this blog confirming that he won’t be running for re-election.* Two other candidates had already filed their papers to run for the seat. The deadline for anyone else to run passed on Sunday.
Technically, candidates have until April 8th to withdraw, but it looks like we’ll see a two way race between Andrew Dennington and Michael Weishan.
For all other positions on the ballot, the same number of candidates have pulled and filed papers as there are seats. (You can see the list here.)
As for the two men who will vie to serve on the Board of Selectmen, each comes with a political history in Town. While they will likely highlight their successes in serving Southborough, they are both likely to draw detractors.
Dennington is currently a member of the Advisory Committee. He is also the former Chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals.* In that role, he drew fire from some residents for issues revolving around the hotly contested Park Central development project.
Weishan is the Chair of the Historical Commission. He has a history of publicly butting heads with some Town officials and community members that has landed him in hot water in the past. That includes skirmishes with the Board he is running for, which is the appointing authority for the Commission.
In 2018, selectmen refused to reappoint Weishan to Historical based on upset over accusations he made in communications related to a historical home that he sought to prevent being demolished. Shortly after, the Historical Commission (including Weishan whose term hadn’t expired yet) filed an ethics complaint against Shea over his role. (The Ethics Commission ultimately didn’t determine a violation.)
In 2020, selectmen reappointed Weishan to the Commission after the Chair resigned and members told the board they needed someone with experience. (Shea recused himself from that vote.)
Last week, BOS Chair Marty Healey publicly took issue with Weishan over his recent communications with area Veterans over flags in the Old Burial Ground and with Town employees in the Building Department. (I’ll post more on both issues later.)
On the night of March 16th, Healey opined to fellow selectmen that they have a problem with the Commission and Chair that will need to be addressed. The next day, Weishan pulled papers to run for selectman.
The Town election is scheduled for May 11th.
*Prior to any candidates pulling papers to run for Brian Shea’s seat, I reached out to ask him if he planned to run for re-election. At that time he said he was still discussing it with his family and considering. On Monday evening, Shea posted the following comment on MySouthborough:
After much consideration, I have decided against running for re-election to the Board of Selectmen and will not be returning my nomination papers. After 6 years on the Board and 6 prior to that on the Advisory Committee, it is time for a much-needed break.
My thanks to my fellow board members with whom I have served, and to Mr. Purple, Ms. Hale, our department heads and Town employees. Our town is well served by each of you, and I appreciate your professionalism, your dedication to service, and the support that you have offered to me.
Special thanks to my family for your love and support.
The past several years have resulted in positive changes to our Town for which there was broad based support, and I am honored to have played a part.
*Updated (3/24/21 7:46 am): A commenter suggested that I should clarify that Dennington did not sit on the Park Central 40B project. Although he was involved in other ZBA actions directly or indirectly related to the overall residential development at Park Central, he wasn’t one of the three ZBA members who made the decision on the 40B development that is currently being contested in court.
I think it would be fair to point out that Andrew was not a sitting member for the Park Central 40B process. His role as board chair came after the approval.
True. But he was involved in the Use Variance, the developer’s appeal of the Planning Board’s rejection of the Site Plan Approval, and in other actions related directly or indirectly to project that have led to strong criticism by some residents opposed to the development.
I think of Park Central as Southborough’s third rail in politics. Touching it in any way has scathed many officials in Town.
Oops. I replied “true”, but technically not true. It is true he didn’t sit on the 40B. But he was named Chair of the ZBA one week prior to the approval (not after).