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Thoughts about the town election

May 6, 2009

It is now Walpole election season, and there is quite a bit of heavy
competition among the various seats up for re-election this year.
Seeking two different terms on the Walpole Board of Selectmen are FIVE
different candidates, all from different backgrounds.  Three different
people (including two incumbents) are vying for two seats on the School
Committee, and even the Sewer and Water Commission, which has two seats
available this year, has three candidates running.

Board of Selectmen
I don’t really know enough about most of the candidates for Selectmen,
there are two I feel comfortable ruling out for now.
Christopher Timson, who is an incumbent running for re-election, has
served the town well, but I believe we need some change.  While I have
nothing against Mr. Timson or his positions on the issues, I generally
tend to feel that when an incumbent is up against so many different
opponents, it really is time for change in leadership.

I feel
nearly the same way about Bill Hamilton, vying for a seat on the Board
of Selectmen nearly a decade after having served on that same board for
several years.  Hamilton seems like a great person who is committed to
his town, but I think he has definitely had his opportunity to effect
change in this town and needs to let others make the decisions. He was Selectmen for fifteen years (1982-1997.)
Hamilton no doubt has the qualifications and experience necessary to
serve on the Board, but there are others running that have fresh ideas
that come from a 21st century perspective, and I’m willing to support
them even without the experience Hamilton has.

So, minus Hamilton and Timson, the field for Selectmen is wide open.  I don’t know very much about any of the other candidates (Patrick Shield, Christopher Poulin, and Nancy Mackenzie).  I look forward to seeing more written about them in The Walpole Times in the coming weeks.

School Committee
for two three-year terms on the School Committee are the two incumbents
for the seats, Dot Bergen and Brian Walsh.  William J. Buckley, Jr. is
also seeking a seat on the Committee.  Reiterating what I said about
Chris Timson, I would say that I will support Buckley not only because
he is not an incumbent, but he also sounds like he will be a fresh
addition to the Committee.  However, I like Bergen’s work, and I
wouldn’t mind at all to see her win re-election.  As for Brian Walsh, I
believe he is generally rather quiet at School Committee meetings, and
I still have to formulate an opinion about him: I think I would rather
see someone who more forcefully takes a stand on the issues affecting
our school system.  However, I am in no way saying that I necessarily
oppose Mr. Walsh at this point in time.  I will need more time to learn
about all three candidates in the coming weeks.

Other Election Issues
For Town Meeting Representative, I do not yet know the
full list of names of people who are running.

On another issue that has nothing to do with the
town election, I want to express my belief that we also need change in
the town administrator’s office.  Michael Boynton has done a good job
(not great, but not bad either), and even though it is an appointed
position and not an elected one, I think he should consider stepping
down in the years to come.  His service has been invaluable to this
community, and I do not want to discount his work on behalf of our
citizens.  But I think we would be much better served with a new town
administrator who can bring bold, fresh, new ideas to the table.
Again, coming back to my statement about incumbents and my desire for
new ideas, Mr. Boynton has served us long enough.  I’m ready for
change.  For one thing, I want the process of drawing up the town
budget to be much more transparent, and I want the town’s very
unfriendly and extremely boring website to be redesigned.  I want a
town administrator who has lived in Walpole for at least a few years,
and understands the value of our library and our school system.  I also
want to have a town administrator who can bring new ideas about
alternative energy solutions for our town’s vehicle fleet and buildings
(this is also something the Selectmen could take on).  These are issues
I haven’t seen Mr. Boynton even think about touching.

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