Looking back it has been just over a year since I started running for Selectman. That means that we are right in the middle of another election season, and what a difference this time around. This year there are 2 seats up for election with both current Selectmen seeking re-election, and the only non-incumbent candidate has decided to drop out. No signs on lawns, sparsely attended Candidates Night, and little focus on major issues that would force candidates to take positions that they can be held accountable for over the course of their terms if elected. Both incumbents are fine people and the town will be well served if they are successful in their bids for reelection. But we are not well served by failing to have choices. It is a shame that more people are not attracted to run.
In fact I have found it to be quite an interesting challenge. To say that it has been enjoyable would be a misstatement but I am finding that it is exactly what I had hoped in terms of making a difference. It is far from easy, and often it is very very difficult to stand up for what I believe to be right. But the feedback has been good and the support broad. There is a lot to do, particularly with regard to bringing increased visibility to our town government. This is not to say that there is anything nefarious going on but it is clear to me that we need to show the public more both of what we do, and what they get for their tax dollar. I hope to work on two major issues in the next year that will accomplish those objectives.
I also hope that we have more interest in contesting the two BoS seats that will be up for election next year. I encourage those who might be interested to begin learning about what it is that we do, and to see if you think you can make a positive contribution. Again, this is not a judgment on the 2 incumbents who’s seats are up for election next year. It is only to say that we are best served when many volunteer to serve.
It has been a few months since the town voted me to become their next Selectman. It has been suggested that this would be a good experience to document, and I agree, so I will make an effort to post here regularly. Nothing groundbreaking, just my observations of what it is like to grow into these shoes. Please feel free to leave comments, requests, suggestions or observations.
I should have written this earlier but the appreciation has not faded…..I want to thank the residents of Groton for electing me to be their newest Selectman as of May 22, 2012. I am honored, humbled and appreciative of the trust that has been handed to me.
These first few weeks have been busy with issues related to Lost Lake, National Grid’s construction project and the renewal of the contract for the Town Manager. I ran on a promise of: “I have no agenda and no platform, I can only offer you my way of doing things…a way that has served me well in the past.” And now I find that, in an effort to address the issues above, I am naturally following the the “way” that I referred to. I have been reaching out to people on all sides of the various issues to get their opinions and to work toward a great outcome. If you find that these issues (or any relevant issue) are of concern to you, and I have not reached out to you, please be in touch with me. I sincerely do want to hear from you . I will promise you nothing other than that I will listen, and that I will incorporate your input in my efforts. I hope that is enough as it is all that I can promise. But I will keep my promise.
Well there is a first time for everything and this was certainly the first time that I have ever had to stand in front of an audience and answer questions, the consequence of which would be to determine if I was to be elected. I thought that it went well. There was an ‘elephant in the room’ as represented by a question to Mr. Hargraves and that was certainly an awkward moment. Otherwise things went smoothly. Bob has a tendency to reflect on the past and frequently wanders in his answers. Still this experience is likely a useful thing, and certainly he has name recognition on his side.
I think that the evening gave people a good chance to see the difference between Bob and me. The video is available at vimeo.com/42150805
Last night Groton held its Spring Town Meeting and the Center Fire Station Building Committee had the opportunity to present our recommendation on the location for the new Center Fire Station to the voters. I am proud to say that I am a member of the Committee, that we listened to the Town, heard what they wanted in terms of information and process, and delivered on that message with a recommendation and a presentation that led 80% of last night’s Town Meeting to vote in favor of the proposal. This is no small accomplishment in that the site that was proposed is dear to all of us. One voter for whom I have a lot of respect as an independent thinker commented to me: “I was very taken by (the impassioned remarks of a resident protesting the use of this land) but reality prevailed for me.” Our Committee delivered the message that was sufficient to prevail, and we, as a group, have a lot to be proud of.
It has come to my attention that there is some discussion around the suggestion that I am conspiring with one or more members of the community to find a way to remove our current Town Manager from his position.
I have no such intent nor have I ever been approached by anyone with such a proposal.
At best, these are the ill informed result of my well intended efforts to talk to, and / or to involve, a broad range of people in my personal and now, political life.
At worst, these are cruel and unconscionable tactics intended to gain some advantage or to advance some cause. To use a man, his family and the town he serves like this is beneath any of us, and I remain hopeful that it is not the case.
I want any one who cares enough to even think about repeating this rumor to know, that this is patently false, and that perpetuating this is to act irresponsibly. If you have any question about this at all please contact me directly. You will see by my conviction that it is simply not true.
So George More and Steve Legg are manning the Administrative tent of the Town Wide Cleanup. I show up and they ask: “Where would you like to clean?” Like a fool I say I will go where they need me. Steve’s eyes light up and he points to a map and says that route 40 needs work ahead of the Groton Road Race. I ignorantly see the area on the map and say: “Put me in coach.”
Now first of all there is absolutely no good place to park along the stretch of road that I am assigned between Shattuck and School St. I find a place to pull over and hope for the best. I have 4 bags to fill and imagine that this will go quickly. Well if you know this stretch of road, you know that it is a candidate for improvement in terms of pedestrian access. This is trecherous territory with lots of curves and little margin. I spend half my time watching for cars, half watching for trash, and half watching for poison ivy. Easily more than a full time job here.
It occurs to me that they must be working for one of my opponents in the race for Selectman. If I every get a hold of those guys I will be sure to ask.
I had a chance to attend a Woman’s Club luncheon held at the Senior Center today. It was a great opportunity to shake some hands and to see the Center in full swing. Lunch was great and the key lime pie was especially good. I met a lot of people with great interest in the upcoming election. Opinions focused a lot on issues of the budget and of the proposed Senior Center at Sacred Heart Church. It was interesting to note that some members of the Center expressed their opinion that the current Center was just fine and needed no improvement. Others of course liked the idea of a renovated Senior Center located at Sacred Heart Church. I asked a few folks if they liked the idea of a multi-generational complex where there was the vibrancy of having people of all ages interacting. Again there were mixed feelings on this though the general consensus was that as long as there was some partitioning that allowed co-mingling and separation where it was desired, that a multi-generational model would be great to have.
There was a lot of interest in the fire station with many people expressing their desire to support this important public safety facility.
I want to thank Mary Campbell for letting me initiate this, and for Mr. Hargraves and Mr. Garger for joining me so that we could all represent ourselves.
Lynn and I hosted breakfast at our home with two of Groton’s finest yesterday. They were good enough to come by and share their time and their thoughts on our town and what the Selectmen can do to make it better. One of the topics that came up was Groton’s reputation for being unfriendly to business. Our guests begged to differ and, as they have no skin in the game other than their excellent insight, I valued this opinion. I have heard this before too, and I know all too well that there are many sides to a story. When we got down to it though, we agreed that there were some things that could improve and that a focus on Objectives was a great way to craft or refine regulation. We also covered the provision in the Charter that requires the Town to take the time to look back on how the Charter’s implementation has gone and what has gone right and what could stand to be adjusted. I think that this is a wonderful opportunity and will be following up. In addition to some great conversation, it was good to meet these people more formally and I hope we can get together again.
S & M came by later in the day to check out the Guinea fowl and what it might take to raise a few of their own. They are wonderful people with a sweet nature tempered by a healthy dose of reality.
Lastly we were able to donate some of our home health paraphernalia yesterday to someone who will be having a family member come to visit. That was the third car of the day in the driveway and again, such great folks.
Our town is a great place to be and I think that all of this contact was facilitated by Talk About Groton. Hats off to you Art.
I announced my candidacy for Selectman today. The feedback that I received in the days leading up to this has been good and the willingness of people to provide their opinion and input over the last few weeks has been amazing.
I had a chance to meet with Steve Webber today. 90 minutes flew by and we covered a lot of ground. I can only imagine that, with all that he has attempted and accomplished here over the last few decades, that his work has generated a range of opinion. I for one am grateful for the centerpiece that he has preserved and the market that he has proven in Gibbet Hill. His ideas are as grand as his passion and I would love the chance to work with him to see some of them move forward.