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Endorsement for Moderator: Rockwood

May 31, 2011

This post has been edited since being originally published.

I urge Walpole voters to support Jon Rockwood for Moderator in the election on June 4. Rockwood is running against current Town Meeting Representative John O’Leary, a disappointing candidate. It is surprising and unfortunate that O’Leary is the only one who stepped forward to run against Rockwood this year.

This had the potential to be an interesting race if O’Leary had more to offer. But at the Candidate’s Night, O’Leary was unable to offer any specific areas where he would differ with Rockwood on policy or on running Town Meeting. Rockwood was prepared and thoughtful while O’Leary appeared to be making things up on the fly and otherwise repeating points Rockwood made.

In fact, O’Leary even seemed to endorse Rockwood’s moderating abilities, when he said Rockwood had taught him a lot. “I’d like to think I’ve learned from [Rockwood],” he said. If he has learned from Rockwood, one can only assume he will not be much different.

Rockwood got a lot of criticism last year after the FinCom Five Controversy, and many thought he was putting pro-school supporters on the Finance Committee and firing members who did not support his 2008 State Senate candidacy. But there is no evidence that Rockwood’s appointments are as pro-school as some say they are, and there is no indication he was punishing those who did not support his Senate campaign.

I believe Rockwood genuinely wanted to bring some new faces to the FinCom. I would not have made the same decision, but Rockwood deserves credit for trying to radically change a Committee that had been stale for some time.

Rockwood is the only current town official who maintains a blog. He keeps in touch with RTMs via email, and uses the blog to share interesting thoughts and commentary about Town Meetings around the region and other news. O’Leary has offered no indication that he would use a blog of his own. This is the 21st century, and as 180 has pointed out repeatedly, it continues to be very concerning that Town Hall as a whole has avoided using blogs and upgrading the town website for a long time. Rockwood’s blog is a refreshing reminder that there is at least one town official who knows how to use a computer.

If residents were truly upset about Rockwood’s FinCom Five decision, there should have been a stronger push to run a better candidate against him this year. Next year, I would like to see a better candidate run against Rockwood who actually makes the race exciting.

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