Elections Matter: A Guide to Tuesday’s Election (Town Wide Offices)

Remember to vote on Tuesday!

If there was one message that we all received loud and clear back in November its that elections matter. They really, really matter. You showing up to vote can mean the difference between a government that goes to bat for consumers ripped off by a multi-billion dollar bank, and a government that wants to make it easier for ordinary consumers to get ripped off by multi-billion dollar banks and brokerages.

That’s true here in Belmont, also, where low turnout in local, April elections has helped propel conservative leaders into key offices in this bluest of towns time and again. If you want to know why it has taken close to a decade to move forward on a straight forward proposal like the Community Path, why our public buildings are falling down around our ears, or our roads are crumbling, thank conservative leadership that balked at addressing those problems 10 or 20 years ago, when Belmont could have built at a fraction of what it will pay in 2017.

If you want to know why Belmont spends $300 less per student every year than Arlington and a shocking $4,000 less on each public school student each year (2014-2015 data) than towns like Concord, Bedford and Lexington, you can thank a decade of conservative political leadership that has preferred to see services and supplies for students trimmed and fees heaped upon working families rather than address the town’s budget challenges in an open eyed, fair and even handed way.

As I’ve written before: low turnout April elections when so many Belmont voters stay home is where that problem starts.That’s why tomorrow’s town-wide election is so important. Belmont voters need to turn out to elect Adam Dash, as we’ve written before. But they also need to send along a raft of candidates lower on the ballot, too.

So here, without further ado is a voter’s guide to Tuesday’s election, from top to bottom. Most races are uncontested (#sad), so I’m focusing on the contested races only.

Board of Selectmen: Vote Adam Dash

This is a no-brainer. You need to vote for Adam Dash over Guy Carbone, the Tea Party endorsed Republican who’s a “a long time listener, first time caller” when it comes to Belmont Town politics. Simply put: Adam is one of the strongest and most experienced candidates to seek this office in a long time. An attorney by training, Adam is also a 3-term Town Meeting Member, vice Chair of the Town’s Warrant Committee (the finance committee for the Town) and a former member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. A passionate supporter of our public schools, he also helped steer the Underwood Pool renovation through to completion with results that the whole Town enjoys. Adam is a rare candidate who has earned the respect of people on both sides of the political divide in Belmont.

Trustees of Belmont Public Library: Vote Kathleen Keohane & Gail Mann (3 year) and Corrine McCue Olmstead (1 year)

The Belmont Public Library is the town’s most-used public building. While neighboring towns long ago revamped their libraries to add work and private meeting space, cafes, more computers and expanded circulation, Belmont bumps along with a small, aged and failing facility that is in desperate need of renovation – or replacement. An effort to build a new facility fell flat a few years back. But, under new leadership, the Trustees and Library staff are moving forward deliberately on the best way to address this pressing problem. Everyone agrees that private funding should help to pay for part of what gets built. Kathleen and Gail deserve to be re-elected to continue their great work as Trustees and help see this process through!

Corinne McCue Olmstead is also a great candidate for a one year spot (where she is uncontested). One of the smartest people I’ve met in town politics, Corinne is focused on the growing role of technology at the Library and the need for more children’s programs and services.

Update2: First They Came for the Farmers: Foodie’s landlord opposes Farmers’ Market

Summary: There’s an important Board of Selectmen’s meeting you need to attend on Monday, April 3  April 10th, as the Belmont Farmer’s Market – a beloved institution that brings locally grown produce to town during the Spring and Summer – is fighting for its life against the owner of Locatelli Properties, where the new Foodie’s Market will soon open. A multi-millionaire real estate developer trying to crack down on a bunch of local farmers and entrepreneurs? Call it a sign of the times. Editor’s note: Updated to reflect the new date of the Selectman’s meeting: Monday, April 10th. Updated a second time, as the date of the Farmers’ Market hearing has been moved back to next Monday, April 3rd!! 

Remember the Town Green (and vote Adam Dash)

The original (Plan A) design for Belmont Center. The two Selectmen candidates have very different ideas about what went wrong., and what the Town should learn from the experience.

If you were as dismayed as I was two years ago, when the Belmont Board of Selectmen defied the will of Town Meeting and the voters by re-drawing an agreed upon and funded plan for the reconstruction of Belmont Center, fear not. You have a champion in next week’s race for Belmont Selectman: Adam Dash.

Of the two candidates running, only Adam stood up for honesty, transparency and accountability during the Town Center debate in 2015. All these months later, he is the only candidate who has absorbed the lessons of that confrontation, who is committed to honoring the will of Town Meeting in the future and who will make transparency and accountability cornerstones of his tenure.

Adam’s opponent, Guy Carbone, has admitted to not knowing the details of the Town Center dispute and appears to have missed the lesson about respect for process and for the institution of Town Meeting that the Town Green controversy threw into stark relief. Electing Mr. Carbone would, I fear, be a step in the wrong direction for Belmont and set the stage for more Town Green-style confrontations in the years ahead.

Important Community Path Meeting This Wednesday, March 8!

The Belmont Community Path is coming. There’s a hearing on the east end of the project this Wednesday. (Image by Paul Roberts.)

In-brief: There’s a meeting to discuss options for the contested Eastern End of the proposed Community Path tomorrow (Wed) at 7PM in the Town Hall Auditorium. Come out to support smart, safe, 21st century infrastructure in Belmont!