Carlisle’s Board of Selectmen leads the way

by Bob Zielinski

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The Carlisle Board of Selectman include (left to right) Nathan Brown (inset), Lyn Lemaire, Chair Vanessa Moroney, John Gorecki and Claude von Roesgen. (Photos by Parissa Khayami and Beth Clarke)

Selectmen Chair Vanessa Moroney has an opinion of what it takes to be a good and effective Selectman. “The most important characteristics which candidates for the Board of Selectmen (BOS) should exemplify is not to come to the board with an agenda, [but] to be open and willing to professionally discuss and debate all ideas, and to be able to work as a team. Having a range of professional backgrounds on the board is enriching and contributes to its ability to look at the broad range of issues brought before it with more than a singular lens. Members must not only be confident enough to be able to make potentially unpopular decisions, but equally important, must have a sense of humility and be able to admit to mistakes and to not necessarily knowing all the answers.”

Role

The Board of Selectmen is a volunteer, elected board with broad powers and duties as provided by the town bylaws in setting the general direction and management of the property and affairs of the town. As Selectmen, they appoint individuals to the various non-elected boards, committees and working groups that are essential to the functioning of the town. The Police and Fire Departments are under the direction of the Selectmen who appoint the Chiefs and other officers. In addition to the BOS meetings, the selectmen also meet with other town officials, boards and committees. The departments that report to the BOS are assigned to Selectmen who act as liaisons, responsible for keeping track of the activities of their groups.

Selectmen serve for three years. The board is comprised of five members: Vanessa Moroney, John Gorecki, Lyn Lemaire, Nathan Brown and Claude von Roesgen. Selectmen are also members of the seven-member Affordable Housing Trust. This year, Gorecki and Moroney will be leaving. On May 17 at the Town Election, voters will have a choice of candidates Bill Risso and Dale Joachim, who are competing for the one-year position being vacated by Moroney. Luke Ascolillo is running unopposed for the three-year position.

Finances

With recommendations of the Finance Committee, the Board of Selectmen oversees the financial health of the town. Given the votes at Town Meeting and the ballot, the Town of Carlisle General Bylaws state the board “is authorized to enter into any contract for the exercise of the Town’s corporate powers, on such terms and conditions as are deemed appropriate.”

Meeting agenda

Every second and fourth Tuesday of the month the typical meeting agenda has variety: appointments, issuing cemetery deeds, permitting events on the Town Common and bicycle events on town roads, approving contracts, managing the Town Warrant. Except for the occasional Executive Session to discuss contract negotiations or lawsuits, all meetings are public with the agenda posted at Town Hall at least 48 hours before the meeting. The first agenda item is “Public Input” when members of the public are invited to comment on issues or concerns that are not on that evening’s agenda. Typically they have no formal response at that time, but the topic is frequently scheduled as an agenda item on a subsequent meeting.

Meetings are broadcast on CCTV. Agendas and minutes are kept by Secretary Margaret deMare, who along with Town Administrator Tim Goddard are the Selectmen’s Town Hall contacts during working hours. As well as overseeing day-to-day operations, they work toward long-term goals, including: making it easier for seniors to remain in Carlisle, restraining rising taxes, adding affordable housing, retaining the all-call Fire Department and resolving public safety communications issues experienced by Police and Fire personnel.

Next time around

Moroney has a suggestion for subsequent elections. “It would be great to see more diversity on the board, given that Carlisle is a global community comprised of women and men from all corners of the world.” She encourages residents to attend meetings, watch it on CCTV and get involved.

She said, “I have found it to be true that you get much more out of your service than what you put in; it is incredibly rewarding. You have the opportunity to meet and work with people who are passionate and committed to helping our town, many of whom might be outside of your social circle. It is a sense of camaraderie unlike any other; one I feel so lucky to have found.” ∆