Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Selectmen Endorsement

The Selectmen’s race features incumbent Denis Keohane running for a second term, and David Burnes a newcomer to Milton politics who has never held an elected or appointed position in the town.

Keohane bases his re-election campaign on his experience and his first term record. Burnes points to his years leading the Recreation Departments in Westwood (as Director), and in Boston (as Deputy Director). 

I supported Denis Keohane three years ago because I liked the stands he took and because I thought the incumbent he was running against had not done a good job.  I also thought he would bring a different perspective to the Board of Selectman that would be beneficial.

I didn’t support him because I agreed with him on all the issues facing Milton.  And I have not agreed with every decision he’s made as Selectman. But I think he’s done a good job and makes decisions carefully after listening to all sides. Why do I believe he’s done a good job?

·         He properly identified a less than ideal working environment in certain areas of town government, and with respect to how residents were treated in some cases, and he took action that has improved those situations.

·         He was concerned about the treatment of our first class Chief of Police, especially with regard to a year to year contract process that was unworthy of both his position and his performance. Today he has a three year contract. If you don’t think securing the services of a very effective head of the most important public safety department in town is important, you don’t know Milton

·         He promised progress on the East Milton deck parking effort that had become mired in bureaucracy. We now have a plan to build 32 additional parking spaces on the deck. This will provide needed parking to serve the businesses of our most important commercial district and safeguard the commercial tax revenue we receive from them.

·         He has been a major supporter of Milton Seniors. After some years of administrative contention on the Council on Aging budget, he supported the addition of a part-time Van Driver to handle the burgeoning need of Milton Seniors for transportation services to medical and other appointments.

·         He has supported the move to a Strong Town Administrator, with appropriate safeguards for Board of Selectmen executive authority, a necessary measure to modernize town governance to fit the 21st century.

·         As a past member of the School Committee, he is conversant in the needs of the Milton Public Schools and their budget is a strong supporter of the schools, based on actual actions as an elected official.

·         Denis is world class at constituent services. He’s available virtually all the time, answering resident questions by phone, email and text message. He listens and tells residents whether he thinks their concerns are correct and takes action in appropriate cases.

Given these accomplishments, I was frankly surprised when an opponent entered the race. I was curious  to watch the campaign unfold and discover what alternative Mr. Burnes might offer. I must say I haven’t seen much. Mr. Burnes seems to be a very likeable man. He touts his experience at running a very large  department with a budget equal to the Town of Milton’s budget. He must be an able administrator.  And he makes much of his love of Milton, which I don’t doubt, and the fact that he was born and raised here.

However, when it comes to experience appropriate to serving on the Milton Board of Selectman, Denis Keohane is clearly the most qualified. Running a large department in the City of Boston is not the same as serving as one of the Chief Executives of Milton. The latter involves a much broader role in areas like Public Safety, Public Works, Schools, Budgeting and a myriad of other functions. That’s why it is highly unusual to see a citizen with no elective office experience serve as a Selectman in Milton. In fact it is difficult to find an example of a Selectman in the most recent decades who doesn’t have service in Town Meeting, or Warrant Committee, or School Committee, or other committees of the Town before seeking our highest office. These roles provide invaluable insight into the workings and issues facing the town. 

Yes, David Burnes was born and raised in Milton and Denis Keohane was not. I‘ve never felt that was much of a criteria for choosing our leaders. The fact is Denis has been a resident of Milton for over 20 years, a longer period of time as an adult than his opponent has spent in Milton, having spent the first decade of this century outside of Milton.

I do not see this as a difficult choice. We have an incumbent who has performed well in his first term and given past history will perform even better in a second term. And we have a promising young man who is an asset to the town, but who is not running for department head, or Town Administrator, but one of our Chief Executives. I hope David Burnes will involve himself as a Town Meeting member, or Warrant Committee member; and I suspect I might be supporting him at some point in the future.

I ask you to support Denis Keohane in his re-election bid as Selectman of the Town of Milton.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis, Philip. Thank you.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Joan Gancarski said...

Philip: Thank you for well-written letter supporting Denis Keohane. I, too, am supporting his candidancy for Selectman, and will VOTE for him on Tuesday.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milton has a large and complicated budget. When I was elected to the town meeting, it took me awhile to understand the complexities of the budgets an the issues facing the town. I served on the Warrant Committee to better inform myself and feel that has helped make me a better town meeting member. I have also volunteered in my children's schools and volunteered in many ways. I am troubled why a man who has not volunteered or served in town meeting would run for selectman. I understand that he did not live in Milton from 2000 to 2010 but he moved here 5 years ago which gave him time to get involved in town government. Another concern I have is that he has raised $34,000 to run for this seat.That is troubling to me.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got an automated phone call from him yesterday and he claimed to me a life long Milton resident. How can you live somewhere else for almost a decade and be a life long resident?

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does being a life long resident qualify you for office? It does not! It also some how sends a message to those of us who choose to make Milton our home less important than those who are born here. But on another point, Mr. Burnes is not being truthful.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am voting for Denis Keohane. His experience on the school committee and at town meeting make him a better more qualified candidate for Milton.

Judy White-Orlando

4:29 PM  

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