Town Election: Planning Board Race; Morris stepping down after 41 years

As I’ve previously posted, a dozen seats will be on the ballot this May. Previously, I posted about a potential race for one board. Since then, only one other race has popped up. It’s to fill the seat of an outgoing Planning Board member.

Last week, Chair Don Morris announced that he isn’t seeking re-election. He’ll be ending his 41 year service on the board this May. He has served as Chair for at least ten years.

Planning Board Race

Two residents have pulled papers to run (though neither has filed yet). The potential candidates are Debbie DeMuria and Alan Belniak. DeMuria currently serves on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Belniak is the Vice Chair of the Economic Development Committee.

Morris’ announcement

Morris spoke at the end of Planning Board’s February 28th meeting. He explained that he initially planned to retire in 2017. But at that time, the Town Planner had just started, and he “chickened out”. He felt he could serve for another five years, so he did.

He’s not willing to commit to another five years. So, he’ll be ending his work “with the best Planning Board in Massachusetts” in May.

Morris said he feels very comfortable stepping down given the board is very strong, dedicated, professional, knowledgeable, and detail oriented. “It’s a good time to get somebody new, and let me enjoy some Monday Night Football”. (The board generally meets about two Monday nights a month.)

Earlier in the meeting, Morris referred to the massive workload the board grappled with in the 80’s and 90’s when the Town population doubled. He described the board meeting weekly until midnight to deal with the exploding number of subdivisions. He explained that the board was so busy with that work, they didn’t have time to talk about scenic roads, trees, etc. (Much of the meeting that night was focused on just those things. Stay tuned for a separate update on those initiatives.)

Morris hopes to follow in the steps of a former chair he referred to as the greatest, Charlie Gaffney. According to Morris, Gaffney (who retired in 2011 after 26 years with 20 as Chair) made himself available to help the Board for a number of years. Morris still does speak to him occasionally.

Fellow members spoke of Morris’ dedication and commitment, the knowledge he shared, and the void he’ll leave. Member Andrew Mills hoped that they could begin a “transfer of knowledge” with whoever is interested in becoming the next chair. 

Who may be on the ballot

If you’re interested in joining that race or seeking another position, nominations papers can be pulled until next Friday, March 18th for filing by Monday, March 22nd. (Both deadlines are 5:00 pm. Candidates must submit 50 valid signatures of residents registered to vote in Southborough.)

Below is the full list of which seats are at stake and who has pulled papers so far (also noting who has already filed signed papers). Unless otherwise specified, each position has one seat available:

Board of Assessors – 3 year term
Jeffrey Klein (incumbent)

Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds – 3 year term
Nicholas Mccoy (incumbent) – papers filed

Board of Health – 3 year term
Safdar Medina (incumbent)**

Board of Trustees Southborough Libraryvote for two – 3 year term
Marguerite Landry (incumbent)
Janet Maney (incumbent)

Moderator – 1 year term
Paul Cimino (incumbent) – papers filed

NB-SB Regional School District Committee (SB Candidate)** – 3 year term
Danielle Culgin Goodwin – papers filed

Planning Board – 5 year term
Alan Belniak
Deborah DeMuria

Select Boardvote for two – 3 year term
Sam Stivers (incumbent) – papers filed
Kathy Cook
Michael Weishan

Southborough School Committee – 3 year term
Roger Challen (incumbent) – papers filed

If you want to keep tabs on who has pulled or filed papers you can look for daily updates on the Town Clerk’s dedicated election page.

For those of you considering a run, check the Town’s website for the full list of vital dates. (If you have questions about the responsibilities for each board, you can find information here. Since most of the boards/committees have only been meeting online, you can also view their latest meetings here.)

For those of you just interested in voting, make sure you’re registered by April 20th at 7:00 pm. And save the date to vote on May 10th between 6:30 am – 8:00 pm at Trottier Middle School. (Or register for Absentee Voting here.)

*Medina wasn’t previously elected, but is currently serving on the Board of Health. He was appointed to fill the vacancy when former Chair Mary Lou Woodford stepped down.

**There will also be a Northborough seat for the Regional School Committee listed, but while Southborough residents can vote for it, we obviously can’t run for it.

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paul butka
5 months ago

Many thanks to Don Morris for his decades of service to our town.

Main Street Resident
5 months ago

Thank you Don for your countless hours served for the town’s best interest. Your dedication is one to be admired! We will miss your pearls of wisdom and knowledge,

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