Friday, May 1, 2009
Candidates for town office introduce themselves
Questions for all candidates
• Tell us a little about yourself. What educational background, experience or special interests do you have that are relevant to the position you are seeking?
• What are the biggest challenges that will face your board or committee during the next few years?
Candidates for certain positions were asked additional questions as indicated in the text.
In addition, the candidates for the Board of Selectmen were asked: Will current financial pressures require changes in town services or funding priorities?
Douglas A. G. Stevenson
Board of Selectmen
As Carlisle continues to face numerous challenges, I offer myself for another term on the Board of Selectmen. I continue to be inspired by the conscientiousness and dedication of so many individuals who give their time and talent to our community. I hope my contribution both inspires others and affects Carlisle in a positive manner.
As a life-long resident of Carlisle, I believe I bring to the Board an historical perspective, balanced by my fondness for the Carlisle of days gone by, accepting of the many changes, and most of all enthusiastic about what we may accomplish in the coming years.
Like most residents, I value our strong school system – especially as my eight-year-old triplets progress through elementary school, the open space and privacy of living in a rural setting, and the small-town atmosphere steeped in neighborliness and volunteer spirit. When folks ask why I haven’t left Carlisle, I tell them that I have no reason to – this is a great place to live and raise a family.
My parents – nearing 50 years in Carlisle – and other resident family members are continual reminders that we must strive to keep Carlisle a family-centered community, affordable and attractive to both young families and retirees on fixed incomes. Our property tax policy and service priorities need to reflect a town that is supportive of children and seniors and all those in between.
My other community involvements include coaching youth sports, Scouts, planning Memorial Day and numerous subcommittees on which I’ve served over the past 12 years on the Board of Selectmen. My service with the Carlisle Fire Department for 27 years as a call firefighter keeps me grounded and connected to some of the wonderful traditions and people of Carlisle.
Carlisle’s most fundamental challenge today is balancing the desire to continue to provide the much desired services – education, public safety, public works, conservation, health and recreation – for people of all ages, while keeping our tax burden at a tolerable level. This challenge is now highlighted by the greater economic crises that have left communities throughout the state (and country) short on outside funding and even more reliant on local property taxes. As a community we will need to work together to explore ways in which we deliver our most basic services in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. All options must be on the table as future budgets are presented and approved. It must be our goal to preserve what is most important as we develop those strategies that will be sustainable well into the future. I hope my experience, judgment and humility will help me continue to lead Carlisle along a positive course.
Board of Selectmen
I moved to Carlisle ten years ago with my wife, Michele, and seven children, ages 6 to 27. I have participated in many of the fun things our town has to offer like running in the Old Home Day race, and coaching my daughter’s soccer and softball teams. Some of our younger children have gone through the school system. Now, ten years later, I would like to give back to the town we have loved living in and I have decided to run for Selectman.
While collecting signatures for my nomination, many townspeople asked me why I decided to run. Like you, I care about our town, about its rural character, and unique sense of community. It is incumbent upon all of us to give back and participate in addressing the problems our town faces. With most of our children grown, and in the process of establishing my profession closer to home, I now have the time needed to carry out this responsibility. I also believe that my background will be a good addition to the current Board of Selectmen (BOS).
First, a little information about myself. I hold a Bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School. I have spent most of my professional career as in-house counsel at two major insurance companies. Most recently, I was vice president in charge of federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) law and state insurance law. I have been entrusted with multi-million dollar budgets. I have been faced with complex issues, many of which carried regulatory and financial implications. In order to be successful, I have had to employ both strategic and analytical thinking. Equally important, I have always been a team player, working collaboratively to produce the best result for the corporation I served.
The skills that I’ve developed over the years are directly transferrable to the position of Selectman. The BOS is faced with financial, legal and regulatory issues. No doubt, finances are generally a concern in small residential communities, with a limited and precious tax base. Carlisle is no exception. But this year is particularly challenging, given a couple of converging factors, including economic uncertainty, coupled with an increased contribution to CCHS - $800K. There are only two ways to balance the budget – raise revenue, or lower expenses. With such financial pressure, the delicate balancing act of taxes versus town services will likely be the biggest challenge the BOS faces this year, keeping in mind that, given current economic conditions, 2009 is likely not a good year to increase taxes. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but what I can tell you is that I will make sure that I am well-informed on the issues, listen carefully to all points of view and suggestions, and I will approach the decision-making process in a collaborative manner. In challenging times, the most important thing is that we stand together as a Board and as a Town. With your support, I will work hard to insure that together we will work diligently and persistently to preserve the special character of our town.
In addition to the questions asked of all candidates, Chad Koski was asked: How would a superintendency union affect the school budget process and the role of the School Committee?
Carlisle School Committee
My wife Lisa and I moved to Carlisle nearly 13 years ago, just in time for our oldest child to attend Kindergarten. We have four children. Two attend Carlisle School, and two attend CCHS. Matthew will graduate from CCHS in June. Adam is a sophomore, Molly is in seventh grade, and Jonathan is in fourth grade. We’ve experienced, first hand, the excellent education system provided by both the Carlisle School and the Concord-Carlisle High School.
Three years ago, I had two goals for my service on the committee. First, assure that we continue to provide the high quality education that we all expect, and second, assure that our school budget is fiscally responsible and sustainable. Those goals haven’t changed as I finish my first term; in fact they have become more intertwined. Town revenues are not growing at a rate which can sustain significant annual increases in operating budgets. As a result, our ability to deliver on the educational promises we make has become more dependent on our ability to manage our operating costs. Carlisle is simply not in a position to throw money at its problems.
A few months ago, the School Committee proposed the possibility of creating a superintendency union with Concord as a means of more efficiently administering our school. This suggestion did not come “out of nowhere” as a recent Forum article seemed to suggest. Instead it came after careful study by members of the School Committee. I believe this is how our committee should function. We should not simply throw money into a study, without first satisfying ourselves that we are not going to be wasting that money. We should have the results of the NESDEC study in the next couple of weeks after which we will know whether or not our cost savings estimates were valid. Should the study show that the savings are not sufficient to justify forming the union, I expect that the committee will look for other options, and I will certainly suggest that we do.
Regardless of the outcome of our superintendent union study, I stand by the decision to investigate the possibility. I take very seriously the responsibility to assure that the school is getting the maximum value possible for each dollar it asks taxpayers to spend. The town faces serious budget shortfalls in the next few years. This will mean fewer services unless all departments figure out how to deliver their services more efficiently. I intend to do whatever I can to assure that school meets this challenge head on and continues to deliver the excellent education we value. Doing less is a disservice to the students in Carlisle.
There are two open seats on the Planning Board and only one candidate running.
I was a Planning Board member for a five-year term starting in 1999. During that term I was the treasurer, preparing the board’s budget, and I represented the board on the Long-Term Caps committee. Since 2004 I have been less active, but I have served as an associate member (able to vote on special permits), and I was appointed to complete the term of a full member who moved out of town. I’m currently an associate member.
My educational background is in statistics, and is not particularly relevant to this position.
We have to face some of the same challenges that other boards face. We are in need of volunteers to step forward, either to fill the other open position or to join us as associate members. We are trying to figure out how to operate under extreme budget pressure. In particular, our budget for technical consultants has been wiped out.
Another challenge is to make sure the Planning Board works well with other town boards. For example, the current board has cooperated with the Selectmen on issues related to cell towers, and is trying to work with other land-use boards to develop regulations that could be useful to the Zoning Board of Appeals in considering 40-B applications. I look forward to continuing that work.
James G. Bohn
Carlisle Housing Authority
I have been a member of the Housing Authority for the past five years. I look forward to continuing to serve the community in this capacity.
I have been an advocate for the interests of seniors and am sensitive to the perspectives of abutters to affordable housing projects. In the Benfield development, I initiated the effort that led to the redefinition of the project as a senior housing development. In my view, senior housing is more harmonious with the existing character of the South Street neighborhood than dense family housing. Senior affordable housing also addresses the critical need for expanded housing options among the elderly members of our community.
One of my special interests is the educational role of the Authority. I initiated and along with Elizabeth Barnett organized this January’s program on strategies for dealing with financial difficulties. This program was broadcast on CCTV and is available on DVD at Gleason Library.
Finally, I have taken an active part in the development of housing policy in our community. I served on the committee that developed the town’s affordable housing production plan and I currently serve as the Housing Authority’s representative on the Affordable Housing Trust.
Two big challenges lie ahead. The first is the completion of the Benfield project. At this point, a developer has been selected. However, there is much work to be done to secure financing and construct the facility. I look forward to working with the developer, my colleagues on the Housing Authority and members of the community to make this project a reality.
The second challenge concerns expanding local affordable options through the development of affordable housing to serve town residents with disabilities. The Housing Authority has been investigating the prospects for the development of affordable housing in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation. This will provide residents with disabilities opportunities for independent living in a group setting while expanding the town’s inventory of affordable units that count towards 40B requirements. It is my hope that rapid progress can be made towards the construction of housing units that serve this segment of our population.
Board of Assessors
My wife Michelle and I have been Carlisle residents since 1997. We have two grown-up children who were both educated in the Carlisle and the Concord-Carlisle Regional school systems. We have always appreciated the things that make Carlisle unique, especially the commitment to education, the focus on conservation and the preservation of our small town character within close proximity to Boston.
I hold B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Boston College Carroll School of Management. In 1992, I founded Expertek Systems and still serve as the company’s president. Both Michelle and I also serve on the Boston College Technology Council and we are active contributors to alumni fundraising. My personal interests revolve around travel and marine life photography. With our children now on their own, I have been fortunate in recent years to be able to travel to exotic locations in the Pacific and in Southeast Asia to photograph marine life and to experience distant cultures.
Our town is facing many challenges now and in the coming years. We have school buildings in Carlisle and in the regional system that are in serious need of renovation or replacement. Even with state assistance, the costs we face are substantive and unprecedented. The town is confronting these expenses in the midst of a severe recession, but the longer term challenges are, I believe, more daunting. Our residents are aging and this demographic reality will mean that many residents will be transitioning out of their prime earning years into retirement at a time when they may be facing significantly increased property taxes.
The Board of Assessors does not, of course, set tax rates or tax policy. The Board’s job is to assure that individual assessments are fair and are set in compliance with local and state laws. Nevertheless, Board members do hear from residents who have may have difficulty paying their taxes and this affords them an important perspective. As such, the Board can be a voice to Selectmen and to Town Meeting about the tax burden on the overall community.
My husband Bob and I moved to Carlisle nine years ago from Chelmsford, where we both grew up. Both of my children (Alexa and Bobby) were born here.
I am especially grateful to the Gleason Library because it helped me get through two very difficult pregnancies. While confined to bed I had a lifeline through my computer and was able to request any book, DVD, music CD, or book on CD online. Our family now enjoys story times, borrowing books and DVDs, The Great Pumpkin Spectacular, art exhibits and special presentations.
After graduating from Stanford University I was the General Manager of the Westford Racquet & Fitness Club. At the Club I did accounting, prepared budgets, planned an expansion, hired employees, taught classes, worked with contractors, etc. Having been involved in all aspects of running a small business, I have learned to live within a budget while surpassing customer expectations.
For the past three years I have been on the Board of Directors of The Children’s Meetinghouse, currently as Treasurer, where I oversee the budget and advise the board in financial decisions.
One challenge facing the Gleason Library Trustees (provided the town approves the use of Community Preservation Act funds) is to repair the historic envelope of the building so it can stand for another 114 years. This entails consulting architects, gathering and selecting bids and overseeing the repairs. I have a great amount of knowledge in this area given my years of experience at the Club and from designing and building my own home.
Another challenge is how to best serve the Carlisle community in these difficult economic times within a limited budget for which my experience is well suited. My goal is to make sure there is funding for great programs, exhibits, technology and materials so every Carlisle resident will feel welcome and excited about discovering something new and interesting at the Gleason Library.
I would be grateful for the opportunity to give back to the library and Carlisle while bringing the perspective of a parent of young children to the Trustees.
Thank you for your consideration and your vote.
My wife, Carolynn, and I have lived in Carlisle for 22 years and have been active in many town roles. I would highlight my many volunteer positions as evidence that I’m strongly committed to our special town. Among other positions, I am/was an active board member of the Estabrook Woods Preservation Task Force, Carlisle Elderly Housing Association, Carlisle Mosquito, Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee and Carlisle Conservation Foundation as well as an umpire and coach of several Carlisle sports teams.
While I received valuable academic training (MBA, Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management), I think some other attributes might be more relevant to helping me serve effectively as a library trustee. Specifically, I’m a good listener, I possess a healthy, questioning perspective and I have the energy and dedication necessary to follow up on commitments.
Supporting libraries is in my genes. My mother was a library volunteer in Connecticut for over 30 years and she introduced me to the remarkable resources and opportunities that a good library offers. She later saw the flip side when she moved to a Dallas suburb that had built a $5 million high school football stadium while relegating their low-priority library to the town hall basement. In contrast, I care about Gleason Public Library, our town treasure, and would work to ensure that it is never taken for granted.
Carlisle is fortunate to have a high quality library staff and an outstanding library director, Angela Mollett. If elected trustee, I would look forward to working closely with Angela, the other trustees and the Friends of the Gleason Public Library, to maintain and enhance this community-oriented, professionally run and technologically advanced town resource.
Clearly, refurbishing this historic building is one of the most important, immediate tasks. Also, especially now, it will be critical to identify creative ways to maintain and bolster our funding levels. I would look forward to utilizing my investment and marketing expertise to help make this happen.
I would be honored to serve Carlisle as a Library Trustee. Thank you for your consideration.
In addition, candidates for the Board of Health were asked: What are your recommendations regarding mosquito control and emergency preparedness?
Board of Health
My wife, Tricia Smith, and I moved to Carlisle in 1993. We live on the corner of Indian Hill Road and Concord Street, where we raise dairy goats, make cheese, bake sourdough breads and grow vegetables.
As a graduate of Tufts University and a Registered Professional Civil Engineer with over 30 years experience, who has been continually involved in the design of on-site sewage disposal systems, water supply systems and stormwater management systems, I am well versed in all matters pertaining to site permitting in Massachusetts.
I am a Senior Vice President and Director at Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, an Architecture & Engineering firm in Cambridge of about 140 people, where I am responsible for our Civil Engineering, Landscape Architecture and Planning services.
Participation in the Board of Health allows me to make good use of my experience in water supply and wastewater engineering. It also gives me the opportunity to represent and support sustainable agriculture and dairying. I believe that our Town should not lose sight of its agricultural roots.
I look forward to continuing to take part in town government.
Board of Health
My wife Barb and I have lived in Carlisle for 20 years and have enjoyed raising our two daughters here. They both attended the Carlisle School and are now at CCHS. Our oldest, Amanda, will be heading off to Nursing School in the fall. I am a dentist, and have been in private practice for 30 years. Prior to that, I spent two years with the U.S. Public Health Service. I served on the committee that wrote the Standards of Care for Delta Dental of Massachusetts. I also volunteer at the Mystic Valley Charter School and am a mentor at Berklee College of Music.
Carlisle is a great place to live and we have made many wonderful lifelong friendships here. I have wanted to give back to the town for a long time and when I saw that the Board of Health had an opening, I felt this was the best place for me to do my part.
I think the biggest challenges facing the Board of Health in the next few years include protecting the quality of our water supply, improving Carlisle’s emergency preparedness capabilities and increasing focus on insect-borne diseases like Lyme disease and mosquito-born disorders.
Mosquito control has been a controversial issue in this town over the years. I’d like to see if a balance could be struck between our mosquito problems and the environmental and fiscal concerns in we have in Carlisle.
Much good work has begun on emergency preparedness in town, but there is still room for improvement. I’d like to help the BOH liaison with the MMRC and state authorities more effectively, and work to improve emergency shelter preparation in Carlisle.
I’ve always believed Carlisle is fortunate to have such a talented and devoted group of citizens who volunteer their time for the benefit of us all. I look forward to joining them to contribute to the community.
Tell us a little about yourself. I’ve lived in Carlisle for 16 years, with my wife Louise Hara and two children. Though trained as a lawyer, I’ve had an adventurous career … as a mediator, management consultant, financial services executive and entrepreneur. As a volunteer in Town, I’ve served on the Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee, the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission, ad hoc committee for selection of Town Counsel, and as Moderator for Town Caucus. I’m a member of the Boards of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, Inc. and the Carlisle Land Trust, and in 2003 was honored as “Conservationist of the Year” at Old Home Day. I thoroughly enjoy hiking and skiing the trails of Carlisle, as well as socializing at the Transfer Station and Farmers’ Market.
How would you describe the role of Town Moderator? As the Town’s steward for democracy. It is a truism that the New England Town Meeting is one of the purest forms of democracy. We the citizens gather as the legislative body for the Town – directly and with no intermediaries. That’s wonderful, thrilling and tremendously challenging. It’s not easy for a couple hundred people to come into a room, debate and deliberate, and then come up with a good decision. A successful Town Meeting is one in which the citizens understood all the articles they voted on, the issues were debated vigorously and fairly, and everyone still got home at a decent hour. It’s up to the Moderator to try to make that happen.
Do you plan any changes in how you would run Town Meeting? No big changes. My sense is that most people are reasonably happy with the way Town Meeting has been run. That said, there’s always room for improvement. Perhaps most important is making sure before Town Meeting that both warrant article proponents and opponents are well-prepared, with concise presentations. Also critical is keeping a steady hand when things get heated, and encouraging people to listen carefully to each other. I’ll always try to balance the formality required to maintain order and undertake public actions, with the informality and good humor that facilitate thoughtful debate among friends and neighbors.
We moved to Carlisle in the fall of 1989 just as our daughter began kindergarten. She graduated from college two years ago! Since then we have been very happy with our choice of hometowns and enjoy living here immensely. Despite many significant changes in the Town over the past 20 years, the things that first attracted us to this area are still in place and we look forward to living here for the long term.
I was born and raised in the south, graduating from the University of Florida with a mathematics degree and from the University of North Florida with an accounting degree. Anyone who has been to my office can attest to my strong devotion to my beloved Florida Gators!
My previous work experience has been in accounting and as a CPA. I was appointed Town Clerk in October of 2003 following the untimely passing of Sarah Andreassen and was elected in May 2004 and re-elected in May 2006. To me, the Town Clerk is a valuable resource for Carlisle residents. My most common question begins with the phrase “I don’t know who to call about this so I thought I would begin with you….” These are my favorite calls and I find it very fulfilling to be able to answer questions residents’ questions or connect them with the appropriate person or department to help with their concerns. The Town Clerk’s role is quite varied with my responsibilities spanning voter registration and elections, vital statistics, as well as a wide variety of over 400 tasks that fall under my domain.
I get particular satisfaction when registering new voters whether they are young people just reaching the age of majority or immigrants who have recently completed the arduous citizenship requirements. I take great pride in protecting the individuals’ right to vote and in managing to the fullest extent of the law our local and state elections. We are so fortunate to have a large team of volunteers who freely give of their time to make our elections run so smoothly.
Being the Town Clerk in my hometown and being able to come to work and help my neighbors and friends is extremely gratifying. I look forward to serving this community for many years to come.
All candidate photos by Betsy Fell except Caddell, Holland and Scavongelli are courtesy photos.
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito