Friday, May 14, 2010
Candidates for town office introduce themselves
Larry A. Bearfield Board of Selectmen
I’m running for Selectman because I believe in giving back. As a 14+ year resident I have perspective. And managing my own businesses for over 30 years, I have the passion, patience, perseverance and experience a member of the Board of Selectmen needs to manage the affairs of our Town – especially during challenging times.
My volunteer experiences include: Veterans’ Honor Roll Committee, Fire Department Emergency Canteen, School Building Revenue Enhancement Subcommittee, Revenue Enhancement Committee, Historical Commission. And what fun running Halloween in the Village Center and Christmas on the Common! Additionally I’m involved with the Carlisle Road Race, Programs on the Piazza, fundraising assistance for the schools, Fire Department and much more. I’m also a 48-year veteran with the Boy Scouts.
Ferns Country Store was established 6 ½ years ago with a planned expansion nearing completion. The planning was easy. Getting through the approval process – not so much. But the experiences I gained provided me with valuable insights of how local government works – and how we can make it better. Meanwhile, Carlisle is facing challenging times. The coming years are critical and efforts will be needed to contain our overall operational costs. Having a Selectman who knows what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table as a taxpayer matters.
I’ve enjoyed your conversations at the store, the Transfer Station and around Town.
You’ve asked questions like “Is owning Ferns a conflict of interest?” (No. Construction is nearing completion. Business I have before boards is typically about routine approvals. I consulted with a former vice chair (and Carlislean) of the State Ethics Commission and the answer was no – when conflicting issues come up officials must recuse themselves from the process. In the past, Selectmen have had to recuse themselves for various reasons. With five members on the Board, one can be recused and the town is still assured a quorum.)
My position on CCHS’s building project is something needs to be done but it must be affordable for all residents – especially the over 20% who are seniors. Folks say that this is a good time for favorable contractor pricing. But contractors can only bid on what’s designed. Affordability begins at the conceptual stage. However, the biggest hurdle for community approval is gaining trust. It’s not enough to hear rhetoric – hard numbers are required. I liked hearing that adding space for SPED programs would save thousands of annual outplacement dollars. And the concept of selling naming rights for an athletic center would save millions. That’s the sort of stuff we need to hear.
Regionalization is another hot topic. I believe certain services shouldn’t be regionalized – including our Fire and Police, Carlisle School and DPW. We need to define what we hope to accomplish – beyond cost savings. For example, our quality of life is less quantifiable but absolutely sacrosanct. It’s likely we’re talking about a sharing of resources – like our Fire Department’s Mutual Aid, our Police membership with NEMLEC and our Library’s area cooperative efforts. We should establish a panel to research the possibilities and new ways of doing business.
This short forum can only touch on issues so I invite you to visit my website www.LBear.org for a more expansive discussion on these and other topics. In the meantime, I humbly ask for your vote for Board of Selectman on May 18. ∆
John C. Gorecki Board of Selectmen
I am writing to provide you with information to be published in connection with my candidacy for the position of Selectman.
I was born and raised in rural northern Wisconsin and lived and traveled in Europe for four years during high school. I have both a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, and a law degree from Georgetown University. At the outset of my law career I elected to specialize in patent law and worked in several large law firms. When my oldest son entered kindergarten, I decided to work for myself and started my own law firm. For almost nine years I have run my own law firm while also being at home to take care of my children. Although I now have several partners and staff, I still work from home about half time so that I am able to be involved in my children’s lives and in the community.
I was pleased to see the town vote in favor of the Carlisle Public School building project. I also fully support the CCHS and the Minuteman school projects. I urge everyone to vote in favor of these Articles at the upcoming Town Election. As these projects move forward into the feasibility/design stage, I will work with the members of the committees to focus on affordability, so that the end result will meet our educational needs while also being affordable to the residents of Carlisle.
One of the challenges we face is reducing the overall budget. I have heard several proposals which seek to help address the budget issues through regionalization. I am not against regionalization where it makes sense. However, where there is regionalization there is also loss of control – both towns now have a say in how affected services are provided whereas previously each town controlled its own services. Since Carlisle is smaller than each of our neighboring towns, it will be important to evaluate any regionalization proposal by balancing the potential savings against the risks associated with ceding control over that portion of the town budget.
One proposal that is being discussed as a possible way to reduce taxes is to eliminate the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge. Although I understand the short-term appeal of this proposal, I am in favor of continuing the CPA for several reasons. First, the CPA provides a net flow of money into the town – Massachusetts provides a 29% matching contribution for CPA funds, which is almost as large as the contribution we are getting for the school project. Second, the CPA is unlike almost any other government program because it allows the town to collect money to be set aside for large community projects before they occur. This program has allowed us to undertake numerous capital projects, such as the pathways, without requiring a bond issue. If we eliminate the CPA we will eliminate that funding mechanism, which means that all projects of this nature will need to be funded using other funding sources. Continuing the CPA makes sense if we intend to continue to preserve Carlisle’s historical character and improve its recreation facilities. ∆
James Marchant Board of Assessors
A professional real estate appraiser for over 25 years, for the past 17 years I have owned and managed a real estate appraisal and consulting firm, Minuteman Appraisals, Inc., in Chelmsford.
I have lived in Carlisle 30 years and know the town well. As professional real estate appraisers, my firm performs an average of 1,000 residential appraisals in the local area each year. The scope of our client-work gives me a broad overview of the real estate values and what creates and influences value. An area of specialization for my firm is consulting assignments for real estate property tax abatement, which is of assistance to my work on the Board of Assessors. I have very much enjoyed my tenure on the Carlisle Board of Assessors these past 12 years. My experience in valuation has been an asset on the Board. I look forward to continuing to serve my neighbors and my town.
My wife, Liz Thibeault, and I moved to Carlisle in 1980. Our son, Jon, graduated from CCHS and Roanoke College. I have been active in the religious education program at Saint Irene Parish for the past 21 years and coached for the Concord Carlisle Soccer Club for seven years.
I do not think that the services provided by the Assessor’s Department would be suitable for regionalization with another town. Carlisle is a small town with a small budget. Other small towns in our position are as unique as we are. I do not foresee any economies of scale that would be possible by combining some operations with other unique small towns in the area.
The biggest challenge facing the next term on the Board of Assessors will be a continuation of the major issue we faced over the past three years, namely, the revaluation of the properties in town as a result of the decrease in real estate values in Carlisle. Last year was our “revaluation year” which is every third year. The FY 2010 revaluation relied on real estate sales in calendar year 2008. Next year, FY 2011, we will be utilizing real estate sales from calendar year 2009. If the Board sees a trend in decreasing property values, as we did in increasing property values a few years ago, we will decide if an “interim” adjustment is warranted. As we did when values were increasing, the board will regularly contribute to articles in the Mosquito to inform property owners what is coming and why. These articles will be informative and will describe the direction of assessments for the town. I think that this pro-active approach has worked well in the recent past and has allowed Carlisle to escape much of the controversy that has plagued some of the surrounding towns as local property assessments fluctuate. ∆
William Risso Board of Health
I have lived in Carlisle since 1987. My wife Nancy and I have two children Chris and Heather. Both have attended the Carlisle School Program.
Currently I am on the Board of Health, and on the executive committee of the Medical Reserve Corps. In the past I have helped the community with Cub Scouts, baseball and the “Pig & Pepper.” I have been a board member of the Carlisle Education Foundation and am a member of the School Building Committee.
I am a Civil Engineer and have been active in the profession for over 30 years. I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University in 1979. I have worked for the United States Government where I was a manager of the Boston National Airspace System Implementation Center which is responsible for the engineering and construction of facilities owned by the FAA in New England. Being a Civil Engineer I am familiar with soils, surveying, perk tests and construction techniques. I have had training on septic design and installation.
• Are there services supervised by this board/committee that would be appropriate for regionalization with another town? All boards should be constantly looking at ways to deliver services in the most efficient way. Sometimes regionalization is not the answer. The BOH recently terminated a contract with another town due to the escalation of costs of the services provided.
• Do you support continuing the Community Preservation Act real estate tax surcharge? No. This will ease some of the upcoming tax burden.
• What are the biggest challenges facing this board/committee during the next few years? The biggest challenges that face the Board of Health in the next few years are: to preserve the quantity and quality of the town’s water supply; be prepared for a town- or region-wide medical emergency; and to continue to provide level services to the town with rising non-discretionary costs.
Catherine (Cathy) Galligan Board of Health
My husband Marty and I have lived on South Street since 1985 and recently became empty nesters with two adult children, a college freshman and college senior. My education and early career experience are in manufacturing engineering. For the past ten years, I’ve worked in public health at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at UMass Lowell, reducing occupational and environmental hazards in healthcare.
The caliber of the Carlisle Board of Health and its value to the town have piqued my interest. My current professional work on safe disposal of medical sharps (e.g. syringes, lancets, needles) in the home and community settings is very timely to the challenges the BOH will face as impending state regulations prohibit disposal of medical sharps in municipal waste.
For the foreseeable future, the BOH will be challenged to provide more support with reduced financial resources. We see a similar pattern town-wide, which is prompting a closer look at all the town’s income and expense streams including the CPA. I am optimistic that the resourcefulness and cooperation of individuals, boards and community will allow Carlisle to thrive even during difficult financial times.
Thank you for considering me for the Board of Health.
Priscilla Stevens Library trustee
I am currently a library trustee, and would like to continue to be so for the next term. A lifelong career in education and letters has given me a profound respect and affection for libraries. In the decade that I have lived here in Carlisle, the Gleason has become particularly dear to my heart. The staff, volunteers, Friends and my fellow trustees are extraordinarily talented and dedicated people with whom it is my privilege to work and whose friendship I treasure.
Gleason has just successfully completed a restoration, funded with Community Preservation Act monies, of its beautiful and historic 1895 building. The project, which will come in under budget, will make the library more energy and cost-efficient to run. That efficiency, as well as the library’s ongoing membership in state-wide and regional organizations, will continue to help sustain services and ease cost burdens in these challenging times. The cost-conscious staff shares duties rather than isolating specialties, pares office materials use and keeps budgets as low as possible within state standards. Maintaining state aid and locating other sources of funding remain priorities. Currently, we are creating a new long-term plan to respond to the needs of the library’s patrons, anticipate the library’s long-term capital requirements, and find new ways to integrate library services with other town departments and with the community at large.
There remain serious and pressing issues to face, however. We need to find creative solutions to the problem of losing talented part-time staff to full-time positions in larger communities, and to the need for administrative assistance at the library. We must increase fundraising as well as find ways to use the Endowment while we grow it in order to retain staff and services without adding heavy fiscal burdens to the town’s already strained resources. I’m proud to be part of this vital organization and very eager to help find creative and cooperative ways to preserve it and move it forward. I ask the people of Carlisle to permit me to continue to work hard for the Gleason Public Library.
David Freedman Planning Board
My wife, Karen, and I have two children who attended the Carlisle Schools, but they have long since graduated from high school, so we are empty nesters. As a result, I have way too much time to devote to town government.
Experience: I am a self-employed graphic designer with a master’s in communication design. I understand the value of good planning and the difficulties inherent in the planning process. As I have stated previously in the Mosquito, my experience with the Carlisle Planning Board began as a petitioning citizen, so as a board member I try to remain aware of how the board appears from the other side of the table. I have been a member and associate member for eight years, and currently serve as chair. Much of the satisfaction of this service comes from being able to work with dedicated, smart, able and amiable fellow board members.
Regionalization: It seems unlikely that the functions of the Planning Board would be appropriate for regionalization as our responsibilities are tied to the specifics of development within the community under regulations designed for local conditions and the concerns of Carlisle’s citizens as reflected in town planning documents. The Planning Board is committed to working with the Town Administrator and other town boards to see if efficiencies can be found through shared resources or other means without limiting our ability to do our jobs effectively.
CPA: I strongly support the town’s maintaining the CPA surcharge. I believe the enabling legislation was properly named, because Community Preservation is not possible without an ongoing commitment to invest, even in tough economic times, in what will preserve for future generations the qualities that make Carlisle the special place we call home today.
Challenges: I believe the biggest challenges facing the Planning Board in coming years will be: 1. To address the question of whether 2-acre zoning can be modified in a way that protects the character and resources of the town while making possible the development of smaller, more affordable single-family homes, and 2. Finding the time to address the first question.
Marc Lamere Planning Board
Thank you for this opportunity to submit a candidate biography for the up-coming Carlisle Town Election on May 18. I am running for a second term on the Planning Board.
I have lived in Carlisle for 12 years and am an active volunteer. I am an IBM Microprocessor Design Engineering Manager and hold a MS in Electrical Engineering. As a volunteer, I have been on the Carlisle Trails Committee for seven years, two as chairman, Historical Commission for three years, currently as chairman, and Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee for one year. In the past, I have been an active Boy Scout Troop 135 committee member, chairing the Adventure Committee, and I was a member of the Land Stewardship Forming Committee.
My positive experience on the Trails Committee, project management knowledge, problem-solving ability, organizational skills, detail-oriented nature, open mindedness and my interest in working with plans and maps are the chief reasons I want to continue being on the Planning Board. As a member, I have been learning on the job, reviewing developers’ projects and working to influence town development to preserve its natural beauty.
I will strongly support the continuation of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) at its present level of 2%.
Jeffrey Johnson Planning Board
I have been a resident of Tophet Road in Carlisle for the past two years, with one child in the first grade and a second child starting kindergarten this fall. I am an attorney, with a practice focused on representing companies in technology and licensing transactions, such as joint development agreements, technology licenses, service agreements and product distribution and marketing arrangements. I also have an undergraduate and master’s degree in surveying engineering, from which I gained some experience with conducting surveys and drafting plot plans, as well as developing early geographic information systems and studying land-use planning. I worked as a land surveyor for the U.S. Department of Interior during my summers as an undergraduate, surveying Indian reservation boundaries in Arizona and Civil War battlefields in the Washington D.C. area, including Antietam and Manassas. I have long been interested in land use and planning issues, and would enjoy the opportunity to combine my legal and engineering experience to contribute to the Carlisle Planning Board. ∆
Wayne Davis Town Moderator
1) Tell us a little about yourself. I’ve lived in Carlisle for 17 years, with my wife, kids and mother-in-law. We moved here for the open spaces and to be part of a community, and have certainly found what we came for. Just running into folks at the Farmers Market, Old Home Day or at the Transfer Station is one of the great small pleasures of life here. Over the years, I’ve been active in a variety of government and conservation-related efforts. While I work for an alternative energy company now, earlier in my career I specialized in negotiation, mediation and dispute resolution.
2) How would you describe the role of Town Moderator? Town Meeting is the legislative body for the town. Its role is to deliberate and decide major issues on behalf of the town, such as setting the annual budget or adopting bylaws. The Moderator is the servant of Town Meeting, with responsibility to ensure that the deliberation and decision-making is accomplished fairly, effectively and efficiently – in that order. “Fairly” means everyone gets their say at least once and that conflicting or divergent views get heard. “Effectively” means that the process helps voters understand the issues, so they can make well-informed decisions. “Efficiently” means we get things done reasonably quickly, with enough discussion to accomplish the first two goals but not dragging on too long.
3) Why should people come to Town Meeting? Because it’s fun and important. Town Meeting is the most direct form of democracy. As individuals, we have not only the opportunity to participate by casting a vote, but also to shape the decisions by asking a critical question or making a cogent argument from the floor. The icing on this cake of privilege is that it’s done together with your friends and neighbors. ∆
Josh Kablotsky School committee
My wife, Deborah, and I moved to Carlisle five years ago with our older daughter, Naomi. A year later we welcomed our second daughter, Mia Joy, to our family. Naomi is on her way into second grade next year at the Carlisle Public School; Mia will be entering in 2012.
Professionally, I have held senior technical, management and leadership positions in the semiconductor industry. Currently I am serving as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer of a startup medical services company. During my professional career I have adeptly supervised multi-million dollar budgets, hired and led a worldwide staff of hundreds of professional employees and supervised multiple organizations and initiatives, both small and large. I believe that the skills gained from these experiences can be of great value to the residents of Carlisle when applied to the oversight of our school system.
I am, as most parents, devoted to my children. And as most residents of Carlisle, I place an utmost importance on the education of our children. It is for these reasons that I wish to offer myself for service on the School Committee.
I consider Carlisle fortunate for many reasons – among them is the high quality of our school system. We must reward and celebrate the accomplishments of our children while simultaneously raising the bar of expectation. So, too, with our school system where we acknowledge excellence while aspiring to do still better.
With respect to the CPA real-estate tax surcharge, this is not an issue for the School Committee to decide. In all matters before the committee I will keep an open mind, listening not only to the other members of the committee, but also to the residents of the town, tempering both with my own judgment and perspective. My personal perspective on the CPA surcharge is that the matching dollars from the state are not large, and the limits imposed on the town regarding how revenues derived from the surcharge may be used are not desirable; however, I support the values of preservation and conservation. Furthermore, Carlisle would likely be spending consistent with the state requirements. Thus, the potential matching funds make the surcharge worthwhile. If, however, the state funding were to diminish, I feel it would be wise to reconsider.
Regarding CCHS renovation, I believe the district must balance on one side the needs for a facility consistent with and supportive of the highest quality of education with on the other side, the need for affordability.
I want our school system to continue to meet the diverse needs of its student body, providing appropriate levels of challenge and support for all students. As we ready our children to be productive, prepared and happy citizens of the world, we must guard educational excellence while embracing innovation. Access to technology and world languages is critical for developing the future leaders of our world. Our challenge will be to balance our aspirations against our means.
I am proud to live in a town whose citizens share the value of education. I look forward to working with the other committee members in service of this important value. ∆
Mary C. Storrs School Committee
Background: Our family has lived in Carlisle for 15 years and we have a son in the fourth grade. My husband is Chair of the School Building Committee. I have been active as a volunteer throughout the school for the last five years and have been a regular attendee at School Committee meetings during that time. The meetings are a great way to learn about what is going on at the school and why. When the opening came up a short while ago, I thought it was about time for me to join the Committee.
I have a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Business. I have a long history of working in the investment management business and now do research on technology products and practices used by asset managers.
Regionalization: Last year, the School Committee visited the notion of sharing Superintendent services with Concord but concluded that it didn’t make sense for a variety of reasons. As part of that discussion, the School Committee also took the position that true regionalization ought to be initiated by the Town. My personal belief is that regionalization would not be well received by residents since we take such pride in our unique community.
CCHS Renovation: Obviously, we are facing significant expenditures to get our regional high school into shape. The question is how we are going to make the renovation project affordable to both towns. At a recent CCHS Facilities Master Plan Committee meeting, they put forth the notion of forming a new committee to include town leaders from both Carlisle and Concord to discuss how to balance educational needs against financial constraints. This is similar to how the CPS building project moved forward and I think can result in a very workable solution.
Challenges: The biggest challenges facing the School Committee during the next few years are very much budget-related: how to continue delivering a quality education when faced with continuously declining resources. Clearly the CCHS building project factors into this. In addition, we have a new Superintendent and a change to our administrative structure that will take some getting used to. Also, with two new School Committee members, there will be some transition issues to work through. ∆
Steve Pearlman Housing Authority
My wife and I have lived in Carlisle since 1992 and have one child who went to Carlisle Schools and CCHS and is now in college. I received a law degree from Columbia University in 1973, and have spent nearly all of my professional life working for environmental causes. I’m currently employed by the Neponset River Watershed Association after retiring after 17 years at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. I was a member of the Carlisle Trails Committee for many years and have been a member of the Housing Authority for approximately eight years. I am the Housing Authority’s representative on the Community Preservation Committee.
• Are there services supervised by this board/committee that would be appropriate for regionalization with another town? Yes. The state requires us to keep a list of people who would like to live in Carlisle affordable housing and to hold a lottery to select from that list when affordable units becomes available. This is something that the CHA does not intend to do by itself, but to contract to a town with a larger stock of and more experience with affordable housing, such as Bedford.
• Do you support continuing the Community Preservation Act real estate tax surcharge? Yes, I do. Even at the current state matching rate of about 30% it is an excellent investment of Carlisle tax resources.
• What are the biggest challenges facing this board/committee during the next few years? Although the real estate market is, of course, in poor condition today, there’s no doubt in my mind that it will come back. Once it does, developers will be coming back to Carlisle seeking to use Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40B to ignore Carlisle’s zoning laws and put as many housing units on small parcels of land as the state septic laws will allow. The only way to stop these 40B developments is for the Town of Carlisle to work with friendly developers to build affordable housing that is consistent with the town’s character. Each year that we build 12 such units, we are allowed to stop unfriendly 40B developments for one year. We’ll need to do this for quite a few years, and this will be a real challenge. ∆
All candidates photos by Rik Pierce
Risso and Pearlman by Ellen Huber
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