[Editor’s note: This spring, residents will choose from two candidates running for one seat on the Board of Selectmen. To help you make that decision, I have invited each to submit a letter to readers.
As in past years, you may use comments to endorse the candidate. No mudslinging allowed here.]
My name is Andrew Dennington, and I am running for the Board of Selectmen in the May 11, 2021 town election. I believe my background, experience, and temperament can help make me a good Selectman. As I explain below, I have seven years of experience on significant boards and committees, but I still bring the perspective of a relative newcomer.
My Background. My wife Catherine and I moved to Southborough eight years ago. We now have two young children. Our oldest, Anne, is a 6-year-old kindergartner at the Finn School, and is active in Girl Scouts. Francis is a 3-year-old in pre-school.
I have roots in Massachusetts. I grew up in Acton. My mom grew up in Boston and Framingham. After attending Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, I graduated from Columbia University and Boston College Law School. I now work as a partner at a law firm in downtown Boston.
Since moving to Southborough, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering on two important town boards and committees.
My Experience in Town Government. I have served on the Advisory Committee since 2019. Through my experience on Advisory, I have gained a working knowledge of the town’s budget and its long-term fiscal challenges. The town is fortunate to have an outstanding group of volunteers on our current Advisory Committee. We work collaboratively to make informed recommendations to Town Meeting regarding our town’s annual budget, and ways to improve its long-term fiscal health. My Advisory experience has taught me that, when considering any proposal for increased services, we need to think carefully about how we are going to pay for it.
Before serving on Advisory, I served on our Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) between 2014 and 2019. I was Chair for two years between 2016 and 2018. We dealt with many complex, contentious issues when I was on the board. These included: the Park Central Chapter 40B project; medical marijuana; solar panels; the Dover Amendment; historical preservation; and athletic field lighting. We also rebuffed an effort to permit very large electronic billboards along Route 9.
My time on the ZBA impressed upon me that, when controversial issues arise, you will never make everyone happy. But if you make an effort to conduct a hearing with respect for all parties involved, and do what you believe is best for our town, many people will appreciate your efforts and more people will be inclined to respect the process.
My Priorities. If elected, I would have three main priorities.
First, I want to maintain and enhance the quality of our public schools. As a parent, I have a personal stake in high quality public education. Public education is a core responsibility of municipal government. I benefited from high quality public schools, and I want the same for all our children. Maintaining strong public education also enhances property values for all residents.
Second, I want to plan for long-term fiscal stability to relieve pressure on residential tax rates. We need to explore potential new sources of revenue. This has been an Advisory Committee priority for several years. Demographic studies show that 65+ will be our fastest growing group in town over the next ten years. Let’s do what we can to keep our town affordable for our retirees.
Third, I want to bring some new energy and vitality into our downtown. Specifically, I want the BOS’s downtown district zoning initiative to be successful at the September 2021 town meeting. Promoting mixed-use development was part of our town’s 2008 Master Plan, but we did not find a way to do it. I have attended recent public hearings on BOS’s proposed bylaw change. I have heard the concerns of the Planning Board and abutters. If elected, I would like to use my knowledge and experience to help fashion a consensus downtown zoning proposal for the September 2021 town meeting.
My Temperament. I work collaboratively with my fellow board and committee members, and those on other boards and committees. I try to be respectful to those who may not agree with me. I keep an open mind, and I can be persuaded to change my position on an issue.
I am very proud to have earned the support of a growing and diverse group of Southborough residents, which you can view here. As a Selectman, I would try my very best to build coalitions to help make Southborough better for all its residents.
Thank you, and I hope that I can earn your vote on May 11! Feel free to visit my website at www.denningtonforselectman.com (although candidly, you don’t have to visit if you don’t want to because it’s quite repetitive of what you’ve just read in the above candidate statement!).