Be part of the solution

voteWe had a new commenting record last week, with a feisty debate on the status of the Nelson Library bringing in 33 comments. There was a bit of name-calling and some North versus South chest-pounding, but no one really seemed to come up with the obvious.

There’s an election in May.

And on the ballot are three, three-year library trustee positions, currently held by Michelle Baliunas Hanchett, Diane A. Libbey and Judith Meichelbeck. There’s also a two-year position up for grabs, which will fill the vacancy left by Leonard J. Ryder, who resigned back in November.

What’s that, you say? The power in town ultimately lies with the Board of Selectmen? It just so happens Brook Padgett is up for re-election, and his seat is fair game for anyone who can come up with 50 signatures by March 16.

Are you sensing a theme here? You bet. And it’s not “let’s dump all the elected officials in town.”

It’s this: get involved.

School Committee, two spots, three years each, are now held by Robert A. Mulvey and Nancy C. Varallo. Planning Board, two three year terms, now held by Robert Hassinger and Richard C. McCarthy, Jr.  Grafton Housing Authority, one five year term, now held by Richard A. Allen.

Drop by the Town Clerk’s office to pick up papers and plan on spending some time getting to know your neighbors. I’ll be checking in with them once a week from now until the March 30 deadline to see who’s brave enough to step up to the plate.

If you’re running, or know anyone who is pulling papers, drop me a line at greatergrafton (at) gmail.com. I plan to profile everyone who is on the ballot.

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9 thoughts on “Be part of the solution

  1. I posted this once, but I’m putting it up again (hope that’s ok Jenn) just because it is more relevant under “solutions…” If interested in this you need to respond by tommorow as letters will go out Wednesday inviting respondants to interview with the BOS on 1/20/09.

    The Grafton Town House Oversight Committee has vacancies for three at-large positions. This Committee is charged with identifying the highest and best use of the building as well as working on development and marketing plans for the space. Apple Tree Arts has worked tirelessly over the 18 months to secure grant money to begin repairs to the building – beginning this Spring with the roof. There is no other building in Town like this – please consider participating in this effort – it is a unique and fascinating opportunity to participate in the municipal process and contribute to developing a long-term management plan for this historic space! Letters of interest should be emailed to Nancy Hazen at hazenn@town.grafton.ma.us, or mailed to the Board of Selectman, 30 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519. Details about the Committee and the charge are available on the Town website and by calling the BOS office at 508-839-5335 x 180.

  2. Correction to the deadline for filing completed nomination papers with the Registrars of Voters (done through the Town Clerk’s office) – the date should be March 16. (I mistakenly used the later date in the Grafton News. Mia culpa!)

  3. Yes, some in town do believe that the power in town ultimately lies with the Board of Selectmen. They are just one piece of a two-piece puzzle. Let us not forget Grafton’s Charter (Article 1-4): “The administration of all of the fiscal, prudential and municipal affairs of the town shall be vested in an executive branch headed by a board of selectmen. The legislative powers of the town shall be vested in a town meeting open to all voters.”
    Power to the people!!!!!!!!!!

  4. The Town of Grafton has over 70 various Boards and Committees. Some meet frequently (every couple of weeks), some meet infrequently or on an as needed basis depending on the issue. The issues are varied in their topics and time commitment.

    However, the one thing they all have in common: they are vital to our Town not only for the issues they tackle but for the sheer fact that we are a town that prides itself in strong community involvement. Sure we could farm out some of the issues to consultants or just pile more on top of the Selectmen (sorry, MAC) but that’s not how we’ve done business in the past. Grafton has a lot of brain power and we put it work for the good of all (and save a few dollars in the process).

    Committee vacancies are listed in the Grafton News usually in the back on the same page as the legal ads – which, by the way, is a GREAT way to know what’s happening at public hearings. This list gets updated every week. In addition, you can also check the town web site and more specifically the Committee Vacancies link:
    http://www.town.grafton.ma.us/Public_Documents/GraftonMA_BComm/vacancies.

    Once on this page you’ll find links to vacancy postings and descriptions of the committee work. Many committees also have information at the town web site. You might see a friend or two on a committee that you could call for more information.

    These listings are maintained by Nancy Hazen, Assistant to the Board of Selectmen (839-5335 x100). If you want the most current information, give her a call or send her an email at hazenn@town.grafton.ma.us

    The Town is always looking for a few good men and women to take the work of the committees forward.

    Rock on.

  5. Ann,
    You bring up a good point, we have over 70 committees…. Huh… no wonder its difficult to get citizen involvement to fill the vacancies. Seeing how that if each committee has a min of 3 people, times 70 committees, that’s 210 people assigned to committees. That is about the number that attended the Town Meeting in October….
    I commend Mary Ann for getting the word out. And Greater Grafton for posting this on her site…
    Perhaps the BOS should read at the start of every meeting the openings on at large committees at every meeting?

    Oh and if this Blog was Guitar Hero, Ann’s comments would make her a Guitar Rock Legend!

    You Keep Rocking On Ann!

  6. From one who knows…you are so right. Same people doing different things. We need to invigorate and inform those who A. have not been involved before; B. don’t read the Grafton News; C. don’t have local cable; D. don’t attend meetings. Having said all that, I’m wondering if those people would be the right choice given their apparent apathy. But, I remain hopeful that a combination of these things, plus ASKING people directly, instead of waiting for them to step up, may increase interest. As for reviewing committee openings at the start of meetings – great suggestion, consider it done.

  7. I’ve discovered over the years that a lot of people really don’t care about the workings of the town/city until it affects them, or it’s pointed out to them that it affects them.

    Case in point: a group of parents showed up to protest school budget cuts at a city council meeting. The funding was restored, but a councilor challenged them to become more involved and actually attend council meetings when it wasn’t just a school issue. A core group of about 8 women took him up on it and started religiously attending meetings and taking notes.

    I think most of them ended up running for office themselves and they always pointed to that moment as the reason why they took off the blinders and started looking at the city as a whole.

    Really, I’ve had discussions with some fairly intelligent people who didn’t even know they were allowed to attend Selectmen’s meetings and were stunned by the idea that they could, you know, call an elected official.

    I’ll add another thought — if you’re new to town, you may think you may not be welcome if you step forward for an appointed office. As we get into election season, you’re going to see people touting that they are a “lifelong resident of Grafton,” which is all well and good, but it does send the message that anything less just doesn’t suffice.

  8. Take it from someone who did not grow up here, moved into town 5 years ago – and won. The water is warm and the opportunity plenty. And while it is unsettling to be judged BY A FEW as a newcomer (and therefore unworthy) – you just have to plow through that to get to the rest of the community – where interests are broad and welcoming.

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