Candidate’s Letter: Al Hamilton for Select Board

[Editor’s note: This spring, Southborough voters will be able to choose among five candidates for two seats on the Select Board. To help you make that decision, each candidate is invited to submit one letter to readers promoting their campaign. (To find other candidates’ letters click here.)

As in past years, you may use comments to endorse the candidate. No mudslinging allowed here.]

To the Editor:

My name is Al Hamilton and I am running for one of the two open Southborough Select Board seats. It is my third time in this position, having made 2 other unsuccessful runs some 12 and 20 years ago.

If you asked me last year if I would ever be here again, my answer would have been an emphatic no. I am happily retired, my time filled with grandchildren, adventures, and volunteer work. Why interrupt my golden years to serve the relatively thankless work of our town’s executive branch?

The primary reason is that I have been critical of several actions taken by the Select Board over the past few years. I have always believed that if you can do something about what you are complaining about, you are honor bound to try.

I’m a familiar name to many of the old guard in town. I intend to be a candidate that serves the interest of all our residents. From our seniors to young families. Folks who have lived in Southborough for generations and new residents with their own thoughts on how to make our town thrive.

My qualifications:

  • 26-year resident of Southborough
  • Education – BS Cornell University, MS Michigan State University
  • Former Scout Leader, Basketball Coach, Soccer Coach
  • My children went through our public system and I have 2 grandchildren and 3 grand nieces and nephews in our K-8 schools.
  • Current volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
  • Past Member and Chair of Advisory Committee, Capital Budget Committee, Town Administrator By-Law Committee, Public Safety Building Committee.
  • 40 years of consulting and technology corporate experience; President and Co-Founder of SignalFire Telemetry, Inc.
  • President of the Pine Hill Meadow Trust, Inc – Manage 26 acres of open space in Southborough
  • Co-Founder of the Pine Hill Meadow Garden –Last year we donated over 3,000 lbs. of fresh produce to food pantries and veteran’s shelters including the Southborough Food Panty.

My overriding goal as a member of the Select Board is to get us back to normal, reasonable, mostly boring municipal government. Specifically:

  • Respect for Town Meeting – I will resist attempts to diminish the authority of Town Meeting. Town Meeting has a nearly 300 year track record as an effective, generous, and thoughtful partner in governing our town. Its wisdom must be respected. I will also explore barriers to attendance. All residents should have equal knowledge of and access to this great legislative body.
  • Respect for Town Residents – I will support the continuation of public comment at the beginning of Select Board Meetings. It is my hope that courtesy and decorum will prevail. In my experience that the louder someone talks; the less others listen.
  • Sidewalks – I will make expanding our sidewalk network a priority. Particularly in areas of town that have historically been overlooked.
  • St. Marks Park – I am in favor of whatever is the least expensive way to resolve this situation. Right now, that is the Select Board’s program but if someone else has a better plan that cleans up the mess and satisfies the Commonwealth, I am willing to consider changing my position.
  • Public Works in the Neighborhoods – We have overinvested public funds in the small strip of Rtes. 85 and 30 flanking our town’s private schools. I want to direct significantly more of our public improvement monies into the rest of the town where people live and taxpayers reside.
  • Regional Dispatch – We need to continuously investigate more cost-effective ways of delivering services. This includes Regional Dispatch which has the potential to provide better service at a lower cost. The current proposal, however, is seriously flawed in many respects and I will vote to withdraw from the current agreement at the earliest opportunity.
  • Public Spending – Southborough is, by and large, a wealthy town. However, some portion of every dollar we spend comes from a senior living on fixed income or a family experiencing food insecurity. We must be able to look those people in the eye and say that it was necessary for them to fund every program we undertake.
  • Park Central – The town has not made acceptable progress towards its stated affordable housing goals or the Commonwealth mandated 10% goal. Our inaction has given developers a strong ally in the Commonwealth and 40B designations. For projects currently under review, I will insist on the greatest possible oversite while understanding that decades of refusal to proactively adjust our housing mix has significantly tied our hands. We must also prioritize an actionable affordable housing plan that moves us away from our current predicament. We have ¾ of a million dollars sitting in a fund specifically for this purpose, some of which has been languishing for over 20 years. This status quo is unacceptable.
  • Public Building Infrastructure – As a community, we face a major decision about the footprint of our K-8 schools. In the initial stage, this decision is the responsibility of the K-8 School Committee which must determine the footprint requirements of our K-8 System. This decision drives a downstream plan for all our public buildings. I will support a school first approach that prioritizes the infrastructure that best serves the education of our children. Regardless of what happens to Woodward, Neary is due for a significant investment.
  • Town Volunteers – Almost no big decision, or many small ones, happens in town without the review, input, and direction of dedicated volunteer-based committee. Over the years, service in town committees has declined. I want to explore how we can better recognize and encourage this selfless service and how we can ease the administrative burden placed on these folks who so generously give their time to our community.

I am asking for your vote because I want to make running the municipal side of local government less volatile, hostile, and contentious. I am not interested in expanding the powers and authorities of the Select Board at the expense of Town Meeting or other Boards. I want to listen and respond to the practical needs of our town’s residents. Let’s fix the potholes and plow the roads while protecting our neighborhoods, public infrastructure, and public services. Let’s do this in a way that is cost-effective and respects the sanctity of our tax dollars. It’s the boring but essential work of good government and it’s what I pledge if you trust me with your vote this May.

Thank you

Al Hamilton
35 Pine Hill Road

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Sean Connelly
1 year ago

I look forward to supporting Al for Selectman! Full disclosure, he is family, but even if he wasn’t I would still be supporting him. Al will bring a fresh perspective in dire need on the board that will be supported with a long history of working to positively further the needs of the town.

John Butler
1 year ago

I’ve worked with Al on Town issues for decades. He’s an independent thinker, a good listener, willing to change his mind, but doesn’t take nonsense from anyone. I think he will, as he says, be respectful of our governance traditions here, not trying to bully Town Meeting or aggrandize the Select Board. He has the character strength to stand firmly when that’s required. I look forward to voting for him. He’d be a great addition to the Select Board.

Claire Reynolds
1 year ago

I am thrilled that Al Hamilton is running for the Select Board. In addition to his candidate letter information, I would add that he has always been fiscally responsible and questions budgets (with recommendations) at Town Meeting. To me, this is very important. I also feel that he believes in accountability not only with our elected officials but also with the Town’s paid employees. I have worked with him on committees and followed him for over 15 years. He is the “voice of reason”. I trust him with my vote and will support him as a campaigner. Thank you Mr Hamilton.

Julie Connelly
1 year ago

I have known Al Hamilton my entire life. He is a person of integrity who cares genuinely for Southborough and its residents. He will take this position seriously, listen to all sides respectfully, and always do his homework. During a time when Southborough has unfortunately been in the headlines for actions and events that display the *not best* of us, he has the temperament to meet this moment, brush off the nonsense, and move the ball forward on important town business. He is heavily reluctant to spend taxpayer money, but also really wants sidewalks, and I am confident he can find a way to address our ongoing budgetary concerns while also making progress on important improvements which will carry us into the future.

David Parry
1 year ago
Reply to  Julie Connelly

I called Al and urged him to run three months ago, when I stumbled on the rampant corruption, confusion and mess at the St Marks Road Project. I thought he could help us cut to the bone and do only what is absolutely “essential” and in the public interest, not private interest. And that decision now appears close, clear and cheap — do nothing more at all, for zero cost to the Town. Al would like that I think, the zero cost bit. Just cease and leave St Marks to do what they want on their own land, so we can all move on with far more important projects. That is what I hope will happen, and Al Hamilton can help with this and with many other projects and issues, because he is honest, has no conflicts, I know he cares deeply about the town, is straightforward, hardworking, thoughtful and a “no nonsense” guy. So he has my vote, for sure. and he deserves to be on the Select Board Board because of his long service to the Town.

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