Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It's Election Time

Milton’s annual election period is in full swing. We have town-wide races for Selectman, Moderator and School Committee. An anticipated race for Planning Board failed to materialize when one office seeker withdrew. This means Emily Keys Innes will become a member of that board. She will be an excellent addition as we approach an important period of consideration for a number of possible developments in the town.

Town Meeting is drawing a great deal of interest this year. Other than Precincts 1 and 3, there are contests in every precinct. Particularly active are Precinct 8 (13 candidates/9 seats), Precinct 9 (18 candidates/8 seats), and Precinct 10 (16 candidates/8 seats). These, of course, are the precincts surrounding the DPW Yard, and many of the new names running in these precincts have been vocal opponents of the town even considering commercial development at the DPW Yard.

Selectman Jimmy Mullen was quoted in the Milton Times as seeing the Town Meeting interest as at least in part a response to a challenge he made for residents to get involved if they didn’t like the direction the Town was taking. Mr. Mullen made this challenge in a public meeting on the DPW issue in June of last year. During a somewhat fiery speech he said:

“Now, I looked out into the audience here tonight a little bit, and I saw what I think are some of the real people of the town. And you know, the real people have been staying at home. When it comes to town meeting the real people have been at home. And we had people, and I’ll tell you right now, they don’t represent the people in their precincts when it comes to Town Meeting. So it’s time to get off the couch folks! Time to step up to the plate! Time to become citizen advocates for your neighborhood and for your town! Because others are speaking for you and, you know, I don’t hate these people. But I can tell you, I don’t like them. And I don’t like them because of what they stand for. I don’t like them because of the manner in which they’ve treated me over the years.”

So it would appear that Mr. Mullen has helped spur opponents to development in the DPW Yard to run for Town Meeting. People have a right to run for Town Meeting for whatever reason they choose. But it is also true that voters might like to know that a candidate’s primary motivation for running is concern over a backyard issue rather than a commitment of service to all residents of a precinct across all the important issues facing the town.

The theme of “wrong direction” in town affairs has been closely echoed by Selectman candidate John Michael Shields in statements he made to the Patriot Ledger. I look forward to hearing Mr. Shields tell us just what wrong direction we are taking. As I look back on the last 5-10 years I see the following: The construction of the Council on Aging Center, providing our substantial senior citizen population with a well designed and functional facility to house their many programs and events; the substantial renovation and new construction (ongoing) of every school in town, assuring the next two generations of Milton children the first class educational facilities they deserve; the funding of the expansion and much needed renovation of our Public Library, representing this generation’s contribution to an important public institution begun by a prior generation of Milton residents; the re-opening and staffing of the Atherton Street Fire Station after its closure in the early 1990’s; the reinvigoration of the Department of Public Works through strong leadership, resulting in highly visible improvements in street cleaning, litter pickup, road maintenance, and sidewalk repair; and the careful, thoughtful consideration of development in various areas of the town.

So we need to find out just what the wrong direction has been, and just as importantly, we need to find out what other direction Mr. Shields believes would have been preferable.

In the Moderator’s race Diane DiTullio Agostino will be making her 6th run for this office, her 5th against current Town Moderator Brian Walsh. In last year’s race Ms. Agostino pulled just under 41% of the vote, her lowest in contests against Mr. Walsh. No campaign theme has been announced. The School Committee race will be an interesting one as incumbents Glenn Pavlicek and Mary Kelly are joined by long time school supporter and volunteer Lynda-Lee Sheridan in a contest for two seats. I’ll be writing more about this race.

As I write this, and as the campaign really just gets underway, the Warrant Committee is finishing its deliberations on the FY 07 budget. The non-override budget they will be presenting will require the most extreme cuts, across all departments, that we have seen in 20 years or more. Selectman Jimmy Mullen has already called for a Proposition 2 ½ override. More details in the next article.

Campaign Calendar

The Milton Speaks Debate hosted by Bernie Lynch will be held on Tuesday evening March 28 from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Selectmen's meeting room in Town Hall.

The League of Women Voters debate will be on Thursday, April 6 at 7:00 pm at the Council on Aging

A fundraiser for Charlie McCarthy will be held on Wednesday, March 29 from 7-9:00 pm at Wollaston Country Club.

A fundraiser for Glenn Pavlicek will be held on Sunday, April 2 from 6-8:00 pm at the Parish Hall of the First Parish UU Church.

A fundraiser for Lynda-Lee Sheridan will be held on Sunday, March 26 from 5:30-7:30 pm at 41 Deerfield Drive.

If other candidates wish to have fundraiser’s announced, they should email me the information.


Blogger Robert said...

I want to thank you for maintaing this blog, Phil. It's an informed and even-handed take on the serious issues facing our town. With your site as inspiration, I've put up a site for own Town Meeting campaign at and while it doesn't hold a candle to your site, I'm hoping to engage residents of Precinct 5 in virtual as well as "analog" discussions over the next month. Thanks again!

Robert Davis
Candidate for Town Meeting, Pct. 5

10:27 PM  
Blogger Philip Mathews said...

Thanks for writing Robert and good luck in the election.

I've added you to my link list.

11:40 PM  
Anonymous David Devine said...

"But it is also true that voters might like to know that a candidate’s primary motivation for running is concern over a backyard issue rather than a commitment of service to all residents of a precinct across all the important issues facing the town."

Phil, have you considered the fact that hot button issues usually call people to take a look at the political landscape? Just maybe people have started tuning in and don't like what they see.

Seems a little odd that you would question any candidate's commitment to service. I'm glad that at least you agree people have a right to run for Town Meeting for whatever reason they choose. Good luck with your crusade.

By the way, you can write off my comments after you see that I live on Clifton Rd.

4:00 PM  

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