The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 14, 1999

News

Candidates for Town Office

John Ballantine

Candidate for Selectman

Three-year term

Tell us a little about yourself.

My wife and I have lived in Carlisle for 14 years. I am a college professor, economist and business person. Currently I teach finance at Brandeis University and work as a research economist at Harvard. I am also the chief financial officer with a small start-up software company. I was educated at Harvard, University of Chicago, and NYU. My professional background is diverse. I am a creative, practical problem solver.

Experience, knowledge or special interests:

Over the past 15 years I have served in a variety of volunteer activities: five years on the housing authority, five on the finance committee, one on the personnel board, one on the school council, eleven years on the board of the directors of Carlisle Communications, Inc, and one year on the board of selectmen. Volunteer activity has shown me the value of persistence, humor and mutual respect. This is particularly true in the debate about affordable housing which involves emotional, technical and moral issues. I have been involved in this issue for a long time and it appears that the town is ready to move forward. If we do, we may be able to control the future of development in town. Beside my interests in housing, finance and conservation, I have also worked as a management consultant.

The biggest challenges:

The biggest challenge over the next five years was outlined in the report that I co-authored with Nancy Pierce and Beth Hambleton, Growing Pains. How are we going to manage our growth so that we can preserve our values (quality schools, open space, community) and contain our costs? This is a complex issue, but affordable housing and less rapid development are at the heart of the matter. As a community, we have to become informed about the facts, debate the issues and move forward decisively.

I also believe that the town needs to address the issues of a small, multi-layered, growing town government. We have a loose structure that relies on the good will and hard work of town employees. I feel that many of the management issues revolve around communication, team building and equity.

On the override questions:

As a selectman, I supported all of the override questions on the ballot except level 3 (Question 1a). However, I felt that the town should have an opportunity to discuss and vote its preferences on level 3. The Town Meeting was clearly supportive of a part-time RecCom director and the tot playground; now the voters will decide.

On serial bonding:

I support serial bonding. I believe that it was prudent to defer the discussion of the $5 million serial bond until the fall Town Meeting to give citizens time to hear from the municipal land committee and debate the merits of serial bonding for Carlisle.

On financial planning:

To be charitable, the preparation of the town budget and Warrant was a victim of process, the inexperience of some of the FinCom members and substantive differences of opinion. The process of putting together the budget did not come together until the twelfth hour. This meant that numbers were in flux and that few knew the impact of various Warrant articles. And then, of course, we ended up with last minute decisions.

Could this have been avoided? Yes. Clearly, as in the past, we needed to put together the budget and override questions well before the publication of the Warrant book. Then, the selectmen, finance committee and other town committees could have debated the issues. Communication and processes broke down.

Then, there is the issue of costs and taxes. This year the town may see its tax rate increase by almost ten percent. There will be additional increases over the next several years as our debt burden peaks (school expansion, new town office, new playing fields, Wang-Coombs land). However, this tax increase needs to be put in perspective. Our tax rate actually decreased from 1995 to 1999 (some house assessments increased). The average annual tax increase over the past five years is approximately 2 percent. Taxpayers will, however, feel the jump this year.

Will citizens continue to support new initiatives and can we find ways to save money? These were the questions we should have debated; instead we got caught up in a process that was not working. How to fix it? Next year we need to manage the process more tightly and communicate. And then, we should evaluate the need for a finance director or some other staff support person. Remember, we have accomplished a great deal.

Vivian Chaput

Candidate for Selectman

Three-year term

Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been a town resident for 24 years and served on the planning board for 17 years, several as chairman, and on the board of selectmen for three years, one year as chairman. My daughter went through the K-8 and CCHS school systems and received an excellent education which allowed her to attend a fine university, procure a great job and become a contributing member of society. My husband is a dentist in Chelmsford and we love living in Carlisle and we appreciate its special and unique qualities.

Experience, knowledge and special interests:

My background ranges from landscape architecture, regional planning and development to a master of business administration degree. Since I've served on various boards and committees of the town for several years, I understand the town's concerns. I helped create the Carlisle Village Court, the town's only elderly low and moderate income housing development, which demonstrates one means of meeting the need for affordable housing in a way that fits into the community. I've also been involved as a vocation and an avocation in building and developing housing, both for profit and nonprofit. My tenure on the Carlisle 2000 committee resulted in a report which is very forward-looking and has some significant recommendations for town government.

As coauthor of the town's Study Plan, which is the master plan, I participated in "planning days" and learned what town citizens' major concerns are. As part of a team, I helped achieve the purchase and resale of the O'Rourke property.

The biggest challenges:

The greatest challenge will be to maintain the town's rural character while finding means of supporting existing financial commitments, including to our excellent schools. We can't purchase all the properties which come available, but we can find ways of developing some portions and retaining those aspects which we find most desirable. We will be facing a series of trade-offs in that further development may jeopardize what we regard as Carlisle's strengths. Another major challenge will be to begin the process of providing affordable housing in a way that fits into the community and doesn't jeopardize our town's zoning regulations.

On the override questions:

I support questions 1b and 1c, but not 1a. These are overrides for operating expenses, primarily for the schools, but also for general town needs. The third tier of overrides (1a) is primarily to replace user fees with town revenues, which I do not support. Operating expense overrides, unlike debt exclusions, become a new base for taxation.

Question 2 relates to additional monies for the Conservation Fund which will be used for site analyses, including appraisals, surveys, and tests of properties which the town may wish to purchase. I support this use of town funds.

Question 3 is for the purchase of a new pumper truck to replace an existing obsolete vehicle. This request is in keeping with a capital expenditures budget and is in accordance with a long-range plan. I support it.

Question 4 is for the purchase of the Wang-Coombs property, an addition to the town's conservation areas that is well worth the expenditure. We have applied for an agricultural preservation grant to partially reimburse the town and some of the property will be sold for development in accordance with the presentation at Town Meeting. The alternative, full development of these parcels, will have a major detrimental effect on the visual and rural aspect of that section of town. I support the purchase.

Question 5 relates to air handling repair and improvements at the schools. This has long-term maintenance benefits and will be partially state-reimbursable. I support this measure.

On serial bonding:

The serial bonding discussion was only deferred, not discontinued. Most town boards felt strongly that the serial bonding request should have a full hearing but also that it should not interfere with the Wang-Coombs property purchase discussion. Since the Wang-Coombs situation demanded an immediate action, it took precedence. I do think that the town should move forward with the proposal for serial bonding at the earliest opportunity.

On financial planning:

We are all volunteers who spend many hours sorting through the details of the town's financial situation. Unfortunately, sometimes a lack of time or a need for more communication forces decisions to be made without full information. I have suggested that after the May 18 election, the selectmen and the finance committee sit down with the town administrator, the town accountant and the treasurer and find means of providing that full information in a more timely way.

Charles Parker

Candidate for Selectman

Three-year term

Tell us a little about yourself.

My wife Gill and I have lived in town for 15 years. We raised our children in Short Hills, New Jersey and Lake Forest, Illinois before moving here. We always chose to live in towns with excellent schools. Our children are both married and we have four grandchildren, one of whom likes to campaign with me at the dump. Our daughter's family lives in Lexington, and our son's family lives in London, England. My family in Massachusetts goes back to Abraham Parker, one of the founders and first selectman of Chelmsford.

Experience, knowledge and special interests:

Gill and I are outdoors oriented. We walk, bike, ski, golf, garden and travel. We are active in politics, symphony, the downtown museums and Trinity Church, Boston. Gill serves on the altar guild and I'm an usher, plus a member of the stewardship and building committees.

I'm an engineer (BSME - Cornell) and a businessman (MBA - Finance - Seton Hall). I've been an executive at large companies (Stone & Webster, General Electric, Envirotech, UOP and Babcock & Wilcox). I've started up two companies and am now doing my third. I've met payrolls, planned and built businesses.

My six years on the FinCom (two as chair) have brought me in close contact with every aspect of the town's affairs. My two years on the municipal land committee and two years ad hoc participation with the land trust have allowed me to be right in the middle of the largest challenge facing the town, managing growth. I believe I have built a reputation for good judgment, creative thinking, good working relationships and getting the job done.

The biggest challenges:

1. Managing growth so that it doesn't overwhelm us with costs that are not covered by property taxes. Key to this will be passing serial bonding to acquire land as it becomes available for all town purposes and to prevent its development outside our control. Companion to this will be a comprehensive plan to institute affordable housing so as to preclude the issuance of comprehensive permits to builders, allowing them to develop at will and ignore our zoning laws. This would create a situation we're all familiar with in neighboring towns.

2. Work with our legislators Susan Fargo and Carol Cleven, via the special education committee formed last year, to address and change some aspects of SPED. SPED is growing at rates which will cause its costs to exceed those of regular education in a short time, posing us with terrible future dilemmas. We must address areas which need changes now: modifying the definition of what constitutes a referral to the national standard which is not as broad, and requiring that the state return to us in aid up to 50 percent of its mandated costs, as 47 other states now do.

3. Work with the town's departments, boards, committees and commissions to temper their zeal for spending so that we don't add another year of $ 1.45 /1,000 jump in the tax rate.

On the ballot questions:

As chair of the FinCom, I support the Level 2 override (Question lb) and the general override (Question 2). I further support the debt exclusions for the pumper truck, the Wang-Coombs land acquisition and the air quality equipment for the school.

On serial bonding:

It is the intention of the municipal land committee, of which I am a member, to bring forward serial bonding at fall Town Meeting. I believe the FinCom will support this and I will be a leader in its cause.

On financial planning:

Two steps will help and are desirable in improving the working relationship among the selectmen, FinCom and the town administration. The first will be to establish a regular continuous liaison by one member of FinCom and one of the selectmen to stay in direct contact with each other and the other body. The second should be serious consideration by the town for establishing and hiring a financial director.

Thank you for the opportunity of sharing my views and a part of myself with the voters.

Burt Buckborough

Assessor

Three-year term

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Michigan and transplanted to Massachusetts in 1960. I went to Dartmouth College and earned a liberal arts degree. I have ardently lived a liberal arts life ever since.

Experience, knowledge or special interests:

I am now and have been a professional real estate appraiser for the past 15 years. I have also been a member of the board of assessors for the past seven years. There is no substitute for knowledge and experience.

The biggest challenges:

I see the biggest challenge in keeping up with the demands imposed by the ever-increasing technical advances in the field (hardware, software, use of Internet, etc.). An associated challenge is finding the money to pay for it.

Other brief comments:

Another constant challenge that becomes increasingly difficult to deal with is getting the idea across to taxpayers that the board of assessors is not responsible for the amount of the real estate tax they have to pay. A corollary to that is the whole idea of educating the taxpaying public as to exactly how the assessment process works and, ultimately, the guiding principle of complete fairness to everyone.

Cynthia Nock

School Committee

Three-year term

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have lived in Carlisle for 17 years. After a short career in software engineering, I changed my work to homemaking and community service. My husband John and I were married at the First Religious Society in the center of Carlisle and have remained members ever since. We have a son Ben who is a freshman at Concord-Carlisle High School and a daughter Jessie who is a seventh grader in the Carlisle School. I have been involved in the town recreation program for ten years in various capacities: director, instructor and student. I served as president of the Carlisle School Association and have served for one three-year term as a member of the Carlisle School Committee and as a Carlisle member of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee.

Experience, knowledge or special interests:

I am a firm believer in community service and working for the greater good. I have experience interacting with the various groups in town government, local advocacy groups such as the Education Collaborative, the Suburban Coalition and the League of Women Voters. I believe in schools providing an excellent education for our future (the children of today) but not at the expense of other service needs in the community. I believe in increased funding for education at the state level but not at the expense of other communities' needs for funding. I believe in balance and responsible leadership.

The biggest challenges:

It is time to begin negotiating another teacher contract at the high school and I hope that will be my biggest challenge next year. I am interested in examining opportunities for compensation for our high school teachers other than just salary and in exploring ways that our schools might work even more cooperatively with other schools to raise the level of education for everyone. I also am interested in exploring alternative school practices, including changing the school calendar, to better meet the needs of students and families.

On the school's ballot requests:

Yes. I think certainly the level 1 and 2 requests are essential to the well-being of our schools and that the level 3 request is tied to the well-being of our school-to-community relationship. How much of what our schools say they need, in order to do the job we ask them to do, are we willing to support? For generations, citizens have sacrificed to provide for the education and well being of future generations. I hope that sentiment has not changed.

On foreign language:

In my opinion, I think a foreign language should be taught beginning in kindergarten as a skill to be acquired in the course of one's education. I would choose Spanish for everyone from K—4, exposure to French in grade 5 and a choice of continuing with French and/or Spanish in grade 6. I think requiring a certain level of fluency in at least Spanish is a responsibility we have to our society in the United States. For students who are linguistically talented I think we owe it to them to facilitate their learning of any language they choose in high school.

Having said that, we also have to consider the degree to which the state is going to drive this issue via the curriculum frameworks and graduation requirements.

On the size of the school committee:

I believe the school committee should be increased to seven with two of the members serving on the regional school committee. We need to get more people involved in sharing the load of subcommittee work. There is much to be done and we need more people helping to get it done.


1999 The Carlisle Mosquito