Town election 2017 preview

Published in the April 18, 2017 edition.

WAKEFIELD – As part of our coverage of the April 25 Town Election, the Daily Item posed a set of questions to the candidates running for the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee. We will publish their responses in four parts this week.

Today, we asked the six selectman candidates why they think there has been so much interest in running for the Board of Selectmen in the last few election cycles.

Incumbent Selectman Phyllis Hull said that she was motivated by a desire to do more for the people of Wakefield.

“Maybe the people coming forward feel they have a lot to offer the town and want to voice their opinions,” Hull said. “They may feel in order to do this they must make themselves known and one way is to run for elected office. Some may feel it is a stepping stone to higher office or higher ambitions. Others, like myself, love Wakefield and just want to do more for the town and its citizens.”

Dan Benjamin says that the candidates realize that running for local office is the best way to get things done.

“Public interest to serve on the Board of Selectmen affirms Tip O’Neill’s adage that ‘All politics is local,’” Benjamin said, “and should be viewed as a positive change away from apathy to address the problems that citizens care about and want government to solve. That’s why I have offered voters a detailed seven-point platform highlighting those challenges starting with my signature call to finish the 100 percent federal/state funded recreational/parking “Rail to Trail” project, have great schools, clean up Lake Quannapowitt, help our veterans, seniors and disabled community and maintain a strong Main Streets program for a vibrant downtown and Greenwood. Let’s work together to make it happen! “Imagine if”?   ……

“As for more hats in the ring,” Benjamin added, “The answer to the problems of democracy is more democracy. JFK used to say with a little Kennedy humor: ‘I’m all for candidates running – I just don’t recommend they run against me.’”

Mehreen Butt says that for her, running for selectman is about giving back.

“I love Wakefield and see great potential in our town,” Butt said. “Our current Board of Selectmen works hard to represent the people of Wakefield, and I want to be another advocate and ally for our constituents — from the children attending our schools to those participating in events at the Council of Aging.

“I choose to live in Wakefield for many reasons. Our proximity to public transportation provides us with direct access to Boston, while still having access to beautiful landscapes, such as Lake Quannapowitt and affordable homes. Since moving here, I have met many of our neighbors and made many friends. I’ve joined groups and organizations that are driven to help the town, including the Friends of the Lake Book Club and the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt. I’ve also volunteered at events for the Boys and Girls Club and at the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry. I’ve attended events for the Fourth of July Parade and Main Street events and fundraisers for our great schools. Recently, I was appointed to the Charter Review Committee because I wanted to work on making our charter stronger, and in January, I became a member of the Hallmark Health Board of Trustees to help this valuable hospital system transition and join our other businesses in Wakefield.

“I’ve committed my professional life to helping people and giving back, the values my parents taught me and my siblings. I’ve worked at non-profit organizations my entire life. Currently, I am the Director of Public Policy at Rosie’s Place, a women’s sanctuary for homeless and low-income women located in Boston. Every day I help women with a multitude of problems and try to make their lives easier.

“I’m excited to work with our Selectman and continue helping and giving back to our town,” Butt added. “I can only speak for myself, I see serving on the Board as another way to serve my community, something that I’ve done my entire career.”

Stefan Chase cited “stagnation or lack of perceived improvement of the Wakefield community” among possible reasons for increased interest in running for office. He says that his vision for stimulating local growth and revitalizing the downtown has informed and motivated his candidacy.

“Wakefield seems to be stuck in the middle at the moment, for reasons difficult to grasp given its strategic geographical location north of Boston,” Chase said. “It would seem that surrounding communities, such as Lynnfield with its MarketStreet development, are eating Wakefield’s lunch.

“We have such a great resource in Lake Quannapowitt and such an easily accessible location courtesy of the nearby intersection of Boston’s two most major highways, 93 and 95, yet we have not witnessed the type of growth expected of such a community.

“As the candidate for Responsible Growth, both my real estate background and professional background in strategy development are the vital skill sets Wakefield has been lacking for decades.

“My vision for the downtown business district is that of a meeting place for the community. Lynnfield can have its ‘stop, shop, and run’ development with its impersonal lease complexes and come-and-go renters. I envision a downtown Wakefield as a place where the people who live there own a part of it. Visitors come to socialize, eat, drink and leave with a sense of wanting to make a home here,” Chase added. “Realizing this vision for Wakefield’s downtown is my reason for running for the Board of Selectmen.”

Edward Dombroski wants to bring his background as a business owner and attorney to solve problems and help create a successful future for the town.

“I believe that, like me, others share a great love for this town and are invested in its future,” Dombroski said. “I’m excited to see the high level of enthusiasm generated by more candidates – it’s democracy in action. Voters deserve choices. I want to give back to our town and bring my experience as an attorney, successful business owner and problem solver to help make our great town even better.

“As for my interest to serve now, with three years on the Finance Committee, I’ve studied how our town is run and departments budgeted. I’ve never forgotten that it’s your money and needs to be invested wisely. With new ideas, fresh perspectives, and innovative thinking, I want to: revitalize our downtown, strengthen our schools, support our departments and programs and serve our veterans and seniors well, all while budgeting within our means,” Dombroski added. “A stronger business environment is a key element to our future fiscal success.”

James Lapery believes that people want change and he would like to be the voice of the citizens.

“I believe more people are running for selectman because they want change, Lapery said. “There are people in this town that feel jaded. I have been told by past and present town managers if I wanted to see change in the town government that I had to run for a position on the boards that help govern the town of Wakefield. I believe people running for selectman really want to help the citizens of Wakefield by making Town officials accountable for their tax dollars and want to help shape the Town of Wakefield’s future.

“One of my main reasons for running for selectman is to have the people’s voice heard after recently finding out that some of the people’s concerns never made it to the Board of Selectmen because Town officials didn’t think it was important enough to share with the Selectmen,” Lapery added. “I want to be the voice of the citizens of Wakefield and bring their concern directly to the board of Selectmen if I am elected.”