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Politicians to watch for

November 4, 2010

With Deval Patrick’s disappointing victory now rapidly becoming distant memory, 180 will now revert back to coverage of local issues. It will be a very difficult 2011 for our municipal leaders on the financial front, as they try to tackle a budget that will likely have many significant cuts to local aid due in part to Governor Patrick’s continued assault on local aid.

I can’t speak for him, but I think Baker will go back to the business world, perhaps as a consultant in some fashion, as his experience leading a turnaround at Harvard Pilgrim may come in handy at some other company. I hope Baker will run for governor in four years, but the 2014 election is a long way away and it is too early to tell which of the other rising political stars in the state will launch their own bids for governor at that point. The domain name CharlieBaker2014.com was purchased by the Baker Committee last year and remains in their control. While it most likely means that Baker intended to run for a second term if he was elected to a first term this year, it could also mean that Baker was interested in running in 2014 as a fallback option in case 2010 didn’t work. Clearly, Baker would be able to learn from the mistakes he made in his campaign this year and could succeed four years from now.

By the way, for anybody who is interested, Deval Patrick’s tenure in office ends in 1,525 days beginning today, Thursday, November 4. I do hope he succeeds in his second term, and perhaps an economic recovery will aid him. But his fiscal irresponsibility and misguided spending priorities have been glaring during the past four years, and are likely to repeat themselves again during the next four years.

And so, it is now time to talk about local issues:

With Selectman Cliff Snuffer announcing on The Sam Obar Show a month ago that he won’t be running for a second term in next year’s town election, his seat will be wide open. With only one seat on the Board up for election next year, it is likely that there will be quite a large number of candidates who will be running.

With several months to go until nomination papers are available, here are my predictions for who will be running for the seat. I have not spoken to any of these individuals about running for the seat, so this is purely hypothetical:

Patrick Shield – After a disappointing loss for the second time in this year’s election, Shield told The Walpole Times that it was unlikely that he would run for the Board next year. But who actually believes him? I certainly do not! Shield is likely feeling very drained from the amount of work he put into two campaigns for selectmen for two consecutive years. No one can blame him. But Shield still has a tremendous amount of support in the community, and has town-wide name recognition from having already run twice. Furthermore, as the years go on, he is boosting his own political resume by serving on the Master Plan Implementation Committee and in getting more involved with town issues. Shield could undoubtedly run for a third time, and win. But it’s not clear he has the energy to do it again, or even the interest anymore.

James Taylor – Taylor, apparently Michael Boynton’s nemesis, promised last year to keep running for selectman until he won. If he runs again next year, he will lose, assuming that he has strong opponents. If he has weak opponents, like Bill Hamilton, he could actually pull off a victory. Board meetings would become a comedy show with him as a member.

Bill Hamilton – Judging by his continued letters to the editor of the Times, and his continued attendance at many Board meetings, Hamilton will probably run for Selectman again, for a third year, and once again emphasize his past experience on the Board of Selectmen. Hamilton has some interesting proposals, but it is almost guaranteed that he won’t win again, or even come close. Walpole voters have showed repeatedly during the past few years that they want fresh leadership, not politicians who have already served on the Board before.

Bill Buckley – A current School Committee member who became one of the youngest RTMs ever elected in Walpole history, Buckley probably won’t launch a campaign for Selectman, especially if he is running against his friend Patrick Shield. But Buckley is, like Shield and current Selectman Mike Berry, a rising star in Walpole political circles who proves that youth and relative inexperience don’t make a difference. Buckley could appeal to the pro-school vote, while also emphasizing his fresh perspective on Walpole politics. Buckley doesn’t appear to be looking to launch a bid for selectman, given that he tends to keep out of the limelight and has not really been very outspoken on major town issues in the past few years other than those that the School Department deals with. But he has close ties to the local Democratic Party, and even in a nonpartisan election for Selectman, those ties could help him.

Jim Stanton – The loser in an epic battle this year to dethrone State Rep. John Rogers, Stanton promised to run again for Rogers’ seat in 2012. To boost his credentials, Stanton may want to consider running for selectman next year.

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