Herr, Burdick and Aghababian Win, Question 1 Voted Down and more Unofficial Results from Town Election

Hopkinton Town Election May 16, 2011 – Unofficial Results

1739 Voters Participated (Approximately 18% of registered voters)

SELECTMEN – Contested Race!
For three years, Vote for ONE
48 BLANK
548 FRANCIS J. D’URSO, JR. (Democratic Caucus), 173 Saddle Hill Road, http://www.frankdurso4selectman.org/, fdurso@comcast.net, H 508.435.1002, M 617.642.117
1139 BRIAN J. HERR (Republican Caucus), 31 Elizabeth Road, brian@brianherr.com

BOARD OF ASSESSORS
For three years, Vote for ONE
424 BLANK
1315 JOHN L. PALMER (Candidate for Re-election), 87 Main Street

BOARD OF HEALTH
For three years, Vote for ONE
489 BLANK
1248 MARK H. GATES (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 22 West Main Street

BOARD OF LIBRARY TRUSTEES
The two candidates with the greatest number of votes will serve 3 years, the two candidates with the second greatest number of votes will serve 2 years, the candidate with the third greatest number of votes will serve 1 year. Vote for FIVE
4424 BLANK
1013 LEDA ARAKELIAN (Republican Caucus), 228 Hayden Rowe
1108 MARIE ELDRIDGE, 10 Alexander Road
1013 JUNE HARRIS (Republican Caucus), 185 Saddle Hill Road
937 MICHAEL J. MCNAMARA, 7 Baker Lane
136 JOHN BELGER (Declared Write-In Candidate), 14 Colella Farm Road
25 STAN PULNIK (Declared Write-In Candidate), 11 Downey Street
64 SCATTERED
0 BOB FOSTER

CEMETERY COMMISSIONER
For three years, Vote for ONE
498 BLANK
1204 CLAIRE B. WRIGHT (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 28 Hayden Rowe

COMMISSIONER OF TRUST FUND
For three years, Vote for ONE
589 BLANK
1152 MARY ARNAUT, 51 Teresa Road

HOUSING AUTHORITY
For five years, Vote for ONE
544 BLANK
1196 DEBORAH K. KOLLMEYER (Republican Caucus), 4 Meadowland Drive

COMMISSIONER OF PARKS AND RECREATION
For three years, Vote for TWO
1188 BLANKS
1197 KENNETH J. DRISCOLL (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 20 Elizabeth Road
1092 BRIAN E. EBERLIN (Republican Caucus), 58 Hayward Street

MEMBER OF PLANNING BOARDFor five years, Vote for TWO
1220 BLANK
1105 CLAIRE B. WRIGHT (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 28 Hayden Rowe
1136 BRIAN J. KARP (Republican Caucus), 23 Nicholas Road

MEMBER OF PLANNING BOARD
For unexpired term – 2013, Vote for ONE
584 BLANK
1151 CHRISTIAN P. OLLENBORGER (Republican Caucus), 24 Duffield Road

SCHOOL COMMITTEE – Contested Race!
For three years, Vote for TWO
544 BLANK
1125 NANCY ALVAREZ BURDICK (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 58 Greenwood Road, http://www.nancyburdick.com/, nancy@nancyburdick.com, H508.435.0926
748 RICHARD P. DEMONT (Candidate for Re-election, Democratic Caucus), 77 North Mill Street, rdemont@demontlaw.com, H508.893.9988
1060 SCOTT AGHABABIAN (Republican Caucus), 12 Breakneck Hill Road, saghababian@comcast.net, H508.544.1699

QUESTION #1
Shall this town approve the charter amendments proposed by the town meeting summarized below? The position of Town Clerk would change from an elected office to a position appointed by the Town Manager. In addition, the Town Clerk would no longer make appointments to two committees: the Appropriation Committee and the Charter Review Committee. The amendments would take effect on July 1, 2011.
67 BLANK
635 YES
1042 NO

Vote Tomorrow – List of Candidates and Questions with Links for More Info

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow, Monday, May 16. Polls are open 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM in the Middle School Gym, 88 Hayden Rowe St (enter by Grove Street). There are two contested races: Board of Selectmen and School Committee. There is also an open seat for Library Trustee available to a Write-In Candidate. In addition there is one ballot question. View a full pdf of the ballot on the Town of Hopkinton Website at: http://www.hopkinton.org/clerk/pdf/townmeeting/2011Ballot.pdf


Offices and Questions on the Ballot May 16, 2011:

SELECTMEN – Contested Race!
For three years, Vote for ONE
FRANCIS J. D’URSO, JR. (Democratic Caucus), 173 Saddle Hill Road, http://www.frankdurso4selectman.org/, fdurso@comcast.net, H 508.435.1002, M 617.642.117, Frank’s Candidate Statement on HCAM
BRIAN J. HERR (Republican Caucus), 31 Elizabeth Road, brian@brianherr.com, Brian’s Candidate Statement on HCAM

Read more about the Selectmen’s Race:
From HCAM – Excerpts from Selectman Candidate Focus
From the Crier – Herr, D’Urso raise differences in race for Hopkinton selectman seat
From Educate Hopkinton – A Blog Debate – Eight Questions and Responses from the Board of Selectmen Candidates

BOARD OF ASSESSORS
For three years, Vote for ONE
JOHN L. PALMER (Candidate for Re-election), 87 Main Street

BOARD OF HEALTH
For three years, Vote for ONE
MARK H. GATES (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 22 West Main Street, Press Release about Mark from the HRTC

BOARD OF LIBRARY TRUSTEES – 5th Position Available for a Write-In Candidate
The two candidates with the greatest number of votes will serve 3 years, the two candidates with the second greatest number of votes will serve 2 years, the candidate with the third greatest number of votes will serve 1 year. Vote for FIVE
LEDA ARAKELIAN (Republican Caucus), 228 Hayden Rowe, Press Release about Leda from the HRTC
MARIE ELDRIDGE, 10 Alexander Road
JUNE HARRIS (Republican Caucus), 185 Saddle Hill Road, Press Release about June from the HRTC
MICHAEL J. MCNAMARA, 7 Baker Lane
JOHN BELGER (Declared Write-In Candidate), 14 Colella Farm Road, John’s Candidate Statement
STAN PULNIK (Declared Write-In Candidate), 11 Downey Street
If you choose to write in a candidate, you need to write their full name and street address.

CEMETERY COMMISSIONER
For three years, Vote for ONE
CLAIRE B. WRIGHT (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 28 Hayden Rowe, Press Release about Claire from the HRTC

COMMISSIONER OF TRUST FUND
For three years, Vote for ONE
MARY ARNAUT, 51 Teresa Road, Press Release About Mary from the HDTC

HOUSING AUTHORITY
For five years, Vote for ONE
DEBORAH K. KOLLMEYER (Republican Caucus), 4 Meadowland Drive, Press Release about Deborah from the HRTC

COMMISSIONER OF PARKS AND RECREATION
For three years, Vote for TWO
KENNETH J. DRISCOLL (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 20 Elizabeth Road, Candidate Statement on HCAMPress Release about Ken from the HRTC
BRIAN E. EBERLIN (Republican Caucus), 58 Hayward Street, Candidate Statement on HCAMPress Release about Brian from the HRTC

MEMBER OF PLANNING BOARD
For five years, Vote for TWO
CLAIRE B. WRIGHT (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 28 Hayden Rowe, Press Release about Claire from the HRTC

BRIAN J. KARP (Republican Caucus), 23 Nicholas Road, Candidate Statement on HCAM, Press Release about Brian from the HRTC

MEMBER OF PLANNING BOARD
For unexpired term – 2013, Vote for ONE
CHRISTIAN P. OLLENBORGER (Republican Caucus), 24 Duffield Road, Candidate Statement on HCAM, Press Release about Christian from the HRTC

SCHOOL COMMITTEE – Contested Race!
For three years, Vote for TWO
NANCY ALVAREZ BURDICK (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 58 Greenwood Road, http://www.nancyburdick.com/, nancy@nancyburdick.com, H508.435.0926, Nancy’s Candidate Statement on HCAM
RICHARD P. DEMONT (Candidate for Re-election, Democratic Caucus), 77 North Mill Street, rdemont@demontlaw.com, H508.893.9988, Richard’s Candidate Statement on HCAM
SCOTT AGHABABIAN (Republican Caucus), 12 Breakneck Hill Road, saghababian@comcast.net, H508.544.1699, Scott’s Candidate Statement on HCAM

Read more about the School Committee Race:
From HCAM – Excerpts from the School Committee Candidate Focus
From the Crier – Three vie for two school posts in Hopkinton
From Educate Hopkinton – School Committee Candidates Blog Debate – Eight Questions and Responses

QUESTION #1
Shall this town approve the charter amendments proposed by the town meeting summarized below? The position of Town Clerk would change from an elected office to a position appointed by the Town Manager. In addition, the Town Clerk would no longer make appointments to two committees: the Appropriation Committee and the Charter Review Committee. The amendments would take effect on July 1, 2011.
YES
NO
[NOTE: This was Article 53 at the May 2010 Town Meeting “Amend Town Charter to Provide for an Appointed Town Clerk” where it PASSED by a clear majority.]

School Committee Candidates Blog Debate – Eight Questions and Responses

Similar to what we did with Selectmen candidates last week, Educate Hopkinton posed the following eight questions to our School Commiteee Candidates, including why are you running (question #1), skills and experience (#2), ideas for improvements (#3), your experience on town committees (#4), what are your budget priorities (#5), the Center School challenge (#6), longer grade spans (#7) and thoughts on improving communication with other committees (#8). We thank them for their responses and for their commitment to Hopkinton. In addition we recommend voters watch the HCAM News Candidate Focus on the HCAM.tv website.

School Committee Candidates – For three years – Vote for TWO
NANCY ALVAREZ BURDICK (Candidate for Re-election, Republican Caucus), 58 Greenwood Road, http://www.nancyburdick.com/, nancy@nancyburdick.com, H508.435.0926
RICHARD P. DEMONT (Candidate for Re-election, Democratic Caucus), 77 North Mill Street, rdemont@demontlaw.com, H508.893.9988
SCOTT AGHABABIAN (Republican Caucus), 12 Breakneck Hill Road, saghababian@comcast.net, H508.544.1699




QUESTION 1: Why are you running for School Committee?

Nancy Burdick:
I have learned a great deal throughout my 6 years on the committee. I have been an integral part of the process − the successes and the consensus-building within and among committees and boards. I am proud of my role in keeping our schools strong during a period of great financial challenges. I want to be elected to the School Committee so that I can work to make the leadership of the schools more inclusive. By courting and using input from across the community we will be best positioned to make decisions that benefit the students with the support of the community as opposed to at the expense of the community. There can be a balance and we must work to achieve that.


Richard de Mont:
The Hopkinton School District is in a period of transition and there is much to be done to keep Hopkinton on track as one of the best districts in the state. We have a new Superintendent coming on board and School Committee negotiations with the HTA to complete, on whose Subcommittee I serve on. We also are just beginning to start the process to reach town wide consensus on the Center School project, as well as looking at other capital projects, particularly at Elmwood. I am actively involved in these various projects and would like to see them through to completion. Each year, the district gets its own report card in the form of our graduating Seniors and each year these students display extraordinary achievement in academics, the arts, sports and public service. 46% of our Seniors have been admitted to Barron’s Highest Rated Colleges, up from 28% in 2000. We have come along way and we have a long way to go, but to the extent my service on the Committee has facilitated a culture of learning and achievement in the schools, I couldn’t be more proud.


Scott Aghababian:
I decided to run for the School Committee this year as I watched the issue of the new Fruit Street school unfold. I believe education is one of the most important functions of the town along with public safety, however, I was not comfortable with the direction we were going through the Fruit St. school proposal. First, I am against the districting of our schools. The town is too small and too tightly knit for multiple school districts. Second, I believe the project was too expensive in the current economy, despite the state grant. Third, I believe the process did not include enough input from the people of the town. The majority votes at the Special Town Meeting and Special Town Election bore these positions out. It became clear then that a new voice was needed on the School Committee.




QUESTION 2: What skills/experiences do you have that you feel makes you qualified to serve on Hopkinton’s School Committee?

Nancy Burdick:
Since moving to Massachusetts 9-years ago, I have been active supporting the schools. I have served as a classroom volunteer, an HPTA President, HPTA Hospitality Co-Chair and Grant Writer and as an elected School Committee member. My academic background is in the field of educational psychology which is why I look to the schools to volunteer. At the University of Pennsylvania, I completed a Master’s of Science in Education, achieved a Certificate in School Psychology and completed seven years of doctoral study (all but dissertation) concentrating in parent involvement in the education of students. I worked for 4 years as a school psychologist in the Abington Pennsylvania public schools and worked as a therapist with children, families and schools at the Children’s Seashore House/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I currently hold a Massachusetts School Psychologist Educator’s license for all levels. My relevant volunteer roles coupled with my professional experience uniquely position me to be both an advocate for the students in our schools and an experienced manager and leader for the school department.


Richard de Mont:
I am an attorney by profession and much of what we do on the School Committee is controlled by state or federal law. In developing a policy or interpreting the application of a law or regulation, my legal training is an asset in interpreting the relevant law and applying it to the facts. I have also been involved in public service since moving to Hopkinton, having served on the Board of Health for three plus terms and pride myself in working collegially with a diverse group to achieve group goals, while bringing an independent perspective and voice to process. On occasion, taking an unpopular stance or minority position simply because it is the right thing to do.


Scott Aghababian:
I am a parent whose children attend Hopkinton schools and a taxpayer who supports said schools.




QUESTION 3: Most prospective School Committee members have several areas in which they are particularly interested and for which they have some ideas for improvement. What are yours?

Nancy Burdick:
Improve Communication with the Community – The leadership of the schools should to be more inclusive. More effective and efficient communication needs to take place.
Balance the needs of the students with the needs of the community – Advocating for the appropriate financial resources to support the needs of all students is important. Demonstrating to the community how that support for the schools directly relates to student success will be paramount to restoring the School Committee’s credibility which will in turn lead to greater support for committee initiatives and decisions.
Demonstrate a cost effective budget – The Committee must do everything it can to ensure that the community is getting the most cost-effective quality services for the investment. The Committee should continue to plan for and execute budgets responsibly and realistically, considering not only the current year but the long term as well.


Richard de Mont:
Two important areas, which are of particular interest to me and where my legal and analytical skills add value to the Committee are serving as liaison to SPEAC, the parent support group for special education, and also the labor negotiation subcommittee presently working on a new contract with the HTA. Having a child who had special needs and having had a negative initial experience with the District’s Special Education department, I researched the applicable law and was able to successfully advocate for my child. However, I was angry that it took the skills of an attorney to establish our rights under the law and decided then and there, that I would work to see that all families would receive the most appropriate and effective services without needing to retain a lawyer. I am happy to say that the District has come a long way in this area and is now a very highly regarded program and constantly seeking to improve the delivery of services at the most economical cost. This turnaround would not have been possible unless we had the help and collaboration of SPEAC and the Special Education department. It more common that special education advocacy groups and special education administrators be at loggerheads, but in a typically unique Hopkinton way, these two groups work continue to work closely toward the common goal of delivering the most appropriate services to our children at the most economical manner.
I have also enjoyed my service on the HTA labor negotiation subcommittee, though it is a very challenging job. I am humbled by the enormous responsibility of representing the taxpayers of Hopkinton in negotiating a fair contract with our most valuable asset, our teachers. In order to be successful in such a task, one must fully understand and respect the position of the other side and must avoid letting ones personal agenda out of the process. To this end, my legal skills and training are have served me well in analyzing data and forming fair and equitable positions based on the facts. Our mutual interests are dependant on finding the balance of compensating the teachers in a fair and equitable manner and which reflect the realities of current economic conditions. I am happy to report that current negotiations continue in a positive climate and I fully expect an agreement in the near future.


Scott Aghababian:
Blank – Please see Scott’s responses to the other questions, which he feels address question 3.




QUESTION 4: Describe one activity, committee or subcommittee you’ve been involved with within the school or town. What it meant to you? How it shaped town/school? Impact on schools/town?

Nancy Burdick:
Throughout my two terms with the School Committee, I have most enjoyed working as an appointed member of the American with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance Committee. The charge of that committee is to advocate and plan for how Hopkinton will make its municipal buildings and spaces accessible to all citizens. We have successfully put forward a project and spending plan for accessibility compliance that has been successfully supported by the annual Town Meeting for the past 5 years. Collaborating with the schools and other town and state departments has been educational and reinforcing. Our most recent success was bringing the needed assistive listening technology devices to the Middle School for students to use during school but also for the members of Town Meeting to benefit from. Helping people participate most fully in any process is what I have been able to do as a member of that committee.


Richard de Mont:
As stated in the previous question, being on the School Committee’s labor subcommittee and dealing with the HTA is one of the most important and rewarding tasks as I have on the Committee. In order to be successful in such a task, one must fully understand and respect the position of the other side and must avoid letting ones personal agenda out of the process. To this end, my legal skills and training are have served me well in analyzing data and forming fair and equitable positions based on the facts. Another consideration in this process is in the long term, as well as the immediate impacts to the town. To this end, the School Committee and the HTA have and will continue to look at different ways we can deliver excellent educational services at lower costs. For example, we are in the forefront of many innovative programs which leverage the explosion in technology to develop online curriculum, which enable students to access a wide variety of courses previously unavailable to them.


Scott Aghababian:
I’ve spent the last 14 years educating my three children. I care deeply about their education and that of the other children in Hopkinton. I strongly and publicly disagreed with the School Committee with regard to the districting and expense associated with the proposed new school, and therefore felt it my civic duty to run and represent this viewpoint, which was shared by the majority of Hopkinton voters in March. The other committee I served on was the Hopkinton Planning Board when I was elected in 2003.




QUESTION 5: As a School Committee member, you will have to make some budgetary decisions. How do you define your priorities?

Nancy Burdick:
My budget priorities are focused on improving the classroom experience for all students. Providing students with access to content is the primary goal. That, in my opinion, starts with quality teachers – the most experienced and resourceful content deliverers we have. Technology and continued professional development are tools that must be provided to our teachers so that they can continue to stay confident and enthusiastic about teaching our children how to complete tasks and solve problems. Continuing to provide this type of excellent education for our children is my goal as a School Committee member. The guidebook for how we pursue this goal is the School Committee’s Strategic Plan. It is time to review and update that Plan to make sure that the initiatives that are pursued are balanced across the schools and grades preK-12. Soliciting input throughout the transparent drafting of the revision regarding the rational, costs and expected benefits of strategic educational initiatives will increase understanding of and support for the Plan.


Richard de Mont:
When making budgetary decisions, you must start with the premise that you are dealing with a limited amount of money and for whatever budget request you approve, another deserving request must be denied. No one ever leaves the budget process completely satisfied, but we need to balance priorities and also evaluate both short and long term effects of any budget decisions we make. I believe that during my term, we have delivered relatively flat budgets which have maintained services without overburdening the taxpayer. In fact, Hopkinton’s per student cost per year is approximately $1,500.00 lower than the state average, while being amongst the highest performing districts in the state. But we must always be looking for ways to do things more efficiently.
My personal priorities in approaching the budget are, First, to preserve those programs we have in place, which are consistent with 21st Century learning and our strategic plan. This means maintaining class size and breadth and scope of curriculum. Next would be, when possible, is to invest in programs that will enhance the educational experience of our children such as adding a critical language such Mandarin Chinese. In this case, through the initiative of the administration, Hopkinton is pleased that we have received a grant for a second year, covering the expenses of a visiting Chinese teacher. When we do absorb the expense into our budget, we will have had two years into a program that has established roots in our community.
I also look at the maintenance of building and grounds as a priority. Again, there is never enough money available in any town department in to do what is believed is necessary. We continue to do more with less and have done a good job of maintaining our buildings and grounds.
In the area of Special Education, services are mandated to a certain level, but we have been very innovative in achieving economies of scale in reducing out-of-district placements by developing in-district that on one hand saves the District money, but more importantly, enhances the educational experience of our students. Accordingly, our investment in services, especially early intervention services, achieve savings when we are able to help a child achieve his or her maximum academic and social potential.


Scott Aghababian:
The primary responsibility of the Town, after providing for public safety, is to provide a high quality education to Hopkinton’s students in a fiscally responsible manner. Proficiency in the core disciplines of English, math, science and history will do much to enable our students to compete on the state, country and international stage.




QUESTION 6: How do you suggest the town to move forward with the Center School challenge? What process would you suggest to gain consensus among community members?

Nancy Burdick:
In my opinion, we need to move forward with any future solution to the facility challenges that the current Center School imposes on the educational program for our students, by engaging the Town in the following BIG process:

  1. Ask some questions.
  2. Listen.
  3. Repeat back some understanding of what was heard.
  4. Listen.
  5. Ask for brainstormed ideas (without critique) on another solution to the Center School facility – as well as thoughts on how this facility fits in with the context of the MS and Elmwood School.
  6. Listen.
  7. Develop solution priorities and criteria for alternatives to be measured against
  8. Report back to the community and collect feedback on those priorities and criteria
  9. Collect grant funding information for any and all building/renovation projects
  10. Prioritize the list of needed municipal building/repair/renovation initiatives
  11. Report back
  12. Plan to pursue prioritized projects through the use of state grants and Town appropriated funds



Richard de Mont:
I believe that in order to move forward, we need the direction of the townspeople. We have made a good start with the recent forum but have a long way to go. I believe we need all interested parties to get together to explore alternatives to the project that was recently voted down. Some voted against districting, some against the cost and many others for various reasons. I would be in favor of a town wide referendum on several alternatives that will come out of the anticipated process, so that those working on the project will be confident their efforts will have the support of the town. A referendum with the attendant information on the benefits and challenges of each proposal provided to the citizens before the vote would help the voters make the informed decision that was lacking in the recent vote.


Scott Aghababian:
The Center School will be needed for the next five years or more. The first order of business should be to address the repairs that are necessary to protect that asset and make it a serviceable learning environment for the kids and working environment for the teachers and staff.




QUESTION 7: What are your thoughts on a longer grade span model (districting)?

Nancy Burdick:
I believe that there are multiple educational and social benefits to be gained by students as a result of moving to a longer grade span model for our students.

Richard de Mont:
I do support longer grade spans, if possible, as I believe are they are more educationally beneficial to the children, especially those children with special needs and on IEP plans. Those children would particularly benefit from the continuity of having the same specialist over a longer period and avoid transitional down time for both the student and the specialists. The longer grade spans could also be achieved without districting in some configurations. However, what we end up doing will, in large part, be driven by what the people will support and I am committed to an open dialogue and finding the best solution for our children and the taxpayers. My own, uncompromising drivers in this process are value to the taxpayers and educational benefit to the students, in whatever form that takes place. I have every confidence that our teachers and administrators will, as always, make any configuration work in the best interests of the children.

Scott Aghababian:
I am not opposed to longer grade spans, but am absolutely against having separate school districts within the Town. Longer grade spans within the existing facilities may be necessary in the near term due to declining enrollment.


QUESTION 8: What can the school committee do to better collaborate and communicate with other committees?

Nancy Burdick:
It became apparent from the vote on the elementary school building project that our town leaders need to do a better job of communicating with the community. I am eager to do so. I will use my active listening and consensus-building skills to move the process forward with committee colleagues and citizens. I would also like to leverage the technology resources and volunteers in the community who work in the field of technology, communication and market research to help collect and share information and share information through electronic formats. We can do a better job of engaging people if we are mindful of tone and time. There are many more formats (e.g., surveys, blogs, cable television shows, webinars, etc.) that we could be using to engage citizens. I want to discuss these ideas and try some out sooner rather than later.

Richard de Mont:
Inter-committee relations are vital to the success of the town. I believe that we have had good communications with other boards, but that we can always do better. It is a two way street. All boards need to share information with others but sometimes there is a disconnect. I believe that liaisons to other boards need to do a better job of communicating the activities of those boards or committees that they are assigned to back to their own boards or committees. The information is more effectively received when communicated directly from a liaison back to his or her board or committee and follow-up requests for information are that more efficiently followed up on. In fairness to all who serve on the many committees and boards in Hopkinton, we are all extremely busy and benefit when information is timely, transparent and succinct. I believe that the recent experience displayed an instance where there was almost too much information, and the issues less than clearly defined, which made it very difficult for the voter to make an informed decision. We need to simplify the process and the information we disseminate must be clear and timely as to both process and substance. All interested parties are invested in the schools and the town as displayed by the passion of recent events, but just had differing views on how to best achieve our goals. Hopefully we can build on this common ground and come to a town wide consensus on how best to address our Center School needs. I supported the proposed Center School building project both on economical as well as educational grounds. However, inasmuch as this project did not receive the necessary support, I now look forward to working with all interested parties to find a solution that will receive town wide support. I would hope the divisiveness that this issue has generated be converted from personal enmity amongst those that differ in the direction we should take, to the energy and a spirit of cooperation and collaboration we need to arrive at a solution that is in the best interests of our town.

Scott Aghababian:
The School Committee may consider assigning liaisons to other Town committees, such as the Board of Selectmen, Permanent Building Committee, Planning Board, Appropriations Committee etc., as does the Board of Selectmen.


Don’t Forget To Vote Monday, May 16!
Polls are open 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM in the Middle School Gym, 88 Hayden Rowe St (enter by Grove Street). There are several offices up for election including School Committee and Selectmen as well as one ballot question. Read the full ballot at 2011 Annual Town Election Ballot.

A Blog Debate – Eight Questions and Responses from the Board of Selectmen Candidates

Educate Hopkinton posed the following eight questions to our Selectman Candidates, including why are you running (question #1), your experience on town committees (#2), thoughts on 2 1/2% (#3), improving communication (#4), the Center School challenge (#5), library expansion (#6), DPW facility (#7) and tax exemptions for seniors (#8). We thank them for their responses and for their commitment to Hopkinton. In addition we recommend voters watch the HCAM News Candidate Focus on the HCAM.tv website. 

FRANCIS J. D’URSO, JR. (Democratic Caucus), 173 Saddle Hill Road, www.frankdurso4selectman.orgfdurso@comcast.net, H 508.435.1002, M 617.642.1173

BRIAN J. HERR (Republican Caucus), 31 Elizabeth Road, brian@brianherr.com

QUESTION 1: Why are you running for Selectman? (What are your skill sets and objectives? How do you define your budget priorities when tough decisions have to be made? What are your ideas for improvements on the board of Selectmen?)

Frank D’Urso: 

I am running for the board of selectmen because I believe that the board needs some balance. I know that I can bring a strong degree of fiscal responsibility. I have over 25 years of business experience, in small and large companies, I know what it means to have to live within a budget. I think that it is time to return a Democrat to the board, and I know that I can work well with the republican and independent selectmen. I would work to instill a stronger sense of fiscal discipline.
When tough decisions have to be made, they should not be made in a vacuum or in haste. I would work with the other selectmen to build consensus. In any group dynamic it is important to include all viewpoints when discussing an issue. I would also reach out to town workers as well as the citizens to get the full picture of what is needed. I will ask for people to bring solutions to the board as well as their problems.

Brian Herr:
Why are you running for Selectman?
I believe in community service and I believe we need to continue to lead Hopkinton into the future with a positive vision for the town. I am running to build on our efforts from 2007 through 2010. 
What are your skill sets and objectives? My skills are those that I demonstrated and used over the last many years on various boards and committees in town and in my professional life. I am an engineer by degree. I think sequentially and  follow decision trees to make decisions. I also have a master’s degree in government. I recognize the  inherit nature of “politics” in all aspects of life. I use my “6th sense” (empathy) to understand how individuals (and groups) think and feel about various issues and then politely guide those individuals to decisions that most are comfortable with in town. My objectives are to restore a healthy and productive debate in town on the issues we all face together, to maintain excellent services for the taxpayers by driving new efficiencies annually into all segments of town government, to balance the needs of a strong school system with the economic pressures many feel due to a continued weak economy, to develop a realistic plan with the SC to address the needs of Center School, to continue to press for further commercial development (tax revenue) in the South Street area of town now that the Milford WWTP deal is in place, to facilitate the revenue positive aspects of development at Legacy Farms and to enhance community life by working with the Parks and Recreation Department and a private youth organization to develop a hockey rink/skating center at no taxpayer expense. 
How do you define your budget priorities when tough decisions have to be made? Public education and public safety are tied for first place. 
What are your ideas for improvements on the board of Selectmen? Each year we elect one or two new members to the Board. This regular shifting of ideas and experience benefits the Board and the community as a whole. If elected, I believe my previous experience on the BoS, Planning Board, Zoning Advisory Committee, Personnel Committee and various building committees will bring additional depth and understanding of the overall governing process.


QUESTION 2: Describe one activity or (sub)committee you’ve been involved with within the town. What it meant to you? How it shaped and impacted the town?

Frank D’Urso: 

I am one of the founding members of the Hopkinton Sustainable Green Committee, chartered in 2008 by then selectman Matthew Zettek.  I think HopGreen has done a very good job of pulling together a large committee of people from various backgrounds who can get a lot done with little to no budget.  Our purpose is to investigate sustainable solutions for the town.  We have earned the “Green Committees Act” designation for Hopkinton, our application and process we undertook was most impressive, Governor Patrick chose to launch the Green Communities Act in Massachusetts in a speech he made in front of our Police Station last year.  Through this Act we have been granted over $130,000.00 in funds to help improve the schools and municipal buildings with energy conservation projects. 
I am quite proud of this team effort.  John Mosher, Aubrey Doyle and John Keane had done most of the brainwork, I helped cobble information together from the Town manager’s office (during a late night work session and a last minute afternoon group finalization effort) and I drove the completed application into Boston with less than an hour left before the deadline.  One of the reasons that we took so long is that we had asked for the maximum amount of grant money that we could. We applied for one million dollars, but the extra effort was worth it as we are prepared to apply for our second round of grants right now.  (Note: Green Communities money does not come from income taxes, it is collected from the energy industry as a fee to help offset pollution).
We are also in our third year of the ANNUAL SPRING GREEN UP, this year’s event will be Saturday May 7th and begins on the town common.  The idea is that citizens of Hopkinton form neighborhood groups to help clean our neighborhoods.
HopGreen also sponsors green projects in town, like the power purchase agreement that Rebecca Robak and Brian Mayne put together for the High and Middle Schools and Police and Fire stations.  John Mosher and I got to tour the High School roof and it really is very impressive when you see the size and amount of the PV arrays that we have up there.
We also run public forums, through the library.  I organized the Solar Forum last year that included Energy industry professionals, I also made sure that the $500 residential rebate (part of our Power Purchase agreement) was still in place after a merger of two Solar companies.

Brian Herr:
Describe one activity or (sub) committee you’ve been involved with within the town. BoS Chair. 
What it meant to you? Being Chair of the BOS is the most rewarding position in town government, but is also the most time consuming. While I was Chair, I spent 30 – 40 hours per week working with staff and residents to keep the ship headed in the right direction and to implement the will of Town Meeting. I enjoyed this role immensely but believe the position should ideally rotate amongst the members of the BOS. It is a privilege to serve the residents on the BOS and a special honor to serve as Chairman. 
How it shaped and impacted the town? We made significant progress in town on the Fruit Street site (fields and WWTP), implemented sound fiscal policy during unprecedented economic times, raised our Standard & Poor’s bond rating to AA+,completed the Milford WWTP Inter-Municipal Agreement, supported the Legacy Farms development, etc. AFTER everyone realized we were not going to return to the days of Ethics Complaints, media feuds and other non-productive political behavior. Positive, respectful leadership produces positive community results.


QUESTION 3: For the last two years the town has not taken the full 2 ½% tax increase allowed each year without an override. Do you support gradually taking back some of the excess levy reserve in the coming years? (i.e. to bring back some of the services that have been cut, purchases that have been put on hold, maintenance that has been deferred, etc.)

Frank D’Urso:
I am against taking ANY of the money that was not taxed in previous years.  While this move may be legal, it does not feel like it can be justified.  Proposition 2 ½  must be respected.  Ideally the town should RARELY have over-rides, with better management and fiscally responsible planning we should be able to cover our expenses every year for less than a 2.5% increase on property taxes.  We had almost $400,000.00 in “free money” in our accounts this fiscal year, and that money is already being appropriated for quite a few items (to be voted on at Annual Town Meeting).  The Problem that I have with this is that money should go back into our accounts and result in helping to keep the NEXT year’s taxes below 2.5% increase.  I know that there are some important purchases involved each year (like the new Firetruck requested) but if it wasn’t part of our spending plan last year, it should wait for next year and let Capitol Improvements line up which projects that we can afford to pay for instead of just throwing EVERY project up to the Selectmen and the Town Meeting every year.  There has to be more discipline on spending and better advanced planning.  We’re spending money that we don’t have.

Brian Herr:
Not unless a demonstrated need is presented to the BoS. I do not believe in raising taxes just because we have excess levy and/or because Prop 2 ½ says we can. I reject the position that we should automatically raise taxes 2 ½ % annually without a thorough review of our finances and a thorough review of the operating model for each department. The private sector does this annually, if not quarterly. We should do the same. I led the effort to hold taxes in check the last two fiscal years given the economy and our ability to restructure the organization and reduce our cost model. I believe in forcing all department heads to submit annual budgets that include looking under every rock for cost savings and efficiency ideas. I would expect the department heads to document what changes they can make/made annually to improve their operational efficiency. Once I am comfortable that the cost model is as tight as it can be, I am then open to looking at revenue needs to provide the best services possible to the community. For FY11 we added funds back into the SC overall budget after they presented all of their steps taken to run as efficiently as possible and they presented their demonstrated need for additional teaching positions at the elementary level. Furthermore, perceived automatic tax increases annually will result in automatic budget increases and automatic labor union assumptions on annual raises. The BoS sets the tone for how the community will see the finances at Town Meeting. If we automatically raise taxes 2 ½ % from the outset, with no review and critique of departmental costs, we are not managing the process but instead allowing it to manage us. All this said, Town Meeting is ultimate authority and if TM Members want to increase spending on a budget item, they have the right to make that amendment on the floor and have a vote up or down. If the BoS, Appropriations, CIC, etc do their work and gain a full understanding of the mood of the community through their combined empathy skills, the number of floor battles over major budget decisions at TM is limited.


QUESTION 4: Working within the State Open Meeting Law do you have suggestions for improving communication between town boards and residents? (i.e. scheduling of critical meetings, making sure accurate information is being communicated, rather than rumors) 

Frank D’Urso:
I was a founding member of the Civic Engagement Committee a decade ago.  We worked with the results of the Voices For Vision Forum, which was a scientific consensus building exercise that gathered @150 citizens together and we talked out all the important issues that faced the town back then.  To paraphrase former selectmen Eric Sennett, I’d wager that the issues that were important then are the same issues that are important now. 
Brian Herr:

This is symptomatic of the larger issue in town right now….there is no trust because the various boards
assumed they were in control of the critical decisions. As mentioned above, TM Members are the
ultimate authority. If the boards and committees understand and work within this reality, then the
communications would naturally improve as they did from 2007 – 2010. Recall in 2007 there were
serious trust issues at that time with the BoS in particular. Positive leadership and an understanding of
how town government works will correct this problem. The mechanics are there…in my opinion…now
we need to work on the approach and style of leadership across the community always remembering
the residents have the last say. Some believe political leadership is all about speeches. I believe
effective political leadership is all about listening and then responding appropriately.


QUESTION 5: How do you suggest the town to move forward with the Center School challenge? What process would you suggest to gain consensus among community members?

Frank D’Urso:
I have suggested to the board of selectmen that we create a similar citizens forum, with a wide range of the town’s citizens involved. Current Selectmen Chair Dourney seems to like this idea. I’d like the town to think outside of the box on this, and I’d like to see a standalone fullday Kindergarten program that can pay for a new building of it’s own. Further, I’d like to see the School Administration office move into the Woodville Firehouse, the upstairs could easily be converted to office space.

Brian Herr:
How do you suggest the town to move forward with the Center School challenge? The School Committee needs to take the lead with the Elem. Sch. Bldg. Cmte. and look at additional viable options. The SC needs to hear the concerns of the community and then come back to the community with some preliminary options for the town to ponder collectively. After a few months of dialogue, the SC should then limit the number of options and bring them to a STM or ATM and ask for a referendum vote to gauge community support for each.
What process would you suggest to gain consensus among community members? I do not believe in full consensus nor should we strive to achieve it. Full consensus in a town meeting form of democracy such as ours in Hopkinton is not possible or necessary. What is important is listening to all the ideas put forth in a responsible manner (blogs do not count) and then look to understand what the majority of the citizens will support. Too often we strive towards consensus and then get frustrated when it is not achieved. Understanding the general will (majority opinion) is the best we can hope for and is doable. There is an option out there that the majority of residents will support. We simply have not found it yet.


QUESTION 6: The Permanent Building Committee and Library Trustees are requesting approval of the preliminary design for an expanded library at its current site. Do you support this, and would you be in favor of the Town contributing 25-50% of the cost of the project in order to receive a state grant for the remaining 50%?

Frank D’Urso:
I support the library expansion, BUT would prefer a smaller footprint, and would ask that they leave the rental property intact and producing income for the Library’s budget (saving the town money). Parking and zoning can be worked out. I believe the town would only be asked to provide 25% of the funds needed, which would come from a debt exclusion, as opposed to a general over-ride to the town budget.

Brian Herr:
I support expanding at the current site. I support the 25% figure for the community to absorb. I would
not support any figure above that. The proposed plan in place for several years now has always
included a 25% investment from the taxpayers. Upward slippage on the taxpayer amount will derail the
effort in my opinion. I am concerned with the size however. I believe the building as designed today is
too large for the site and should be scaled back to a more reasonable size. We will not be able to get
the perfect library for Hopkinton downtown. We will need to compromise a bit to keep the project on
track and reasonable for many residents that live in the downtown section of town. I support the
concept of libraries and their positive impact on communities. I also support the fiscal model for this
plan as proposed. A 25% investment to get a 100% asset is an excellent investment for any
organization, public or private.


QUESTION 7: Do you support the new DPW facility? A vote for a $375K for the design is coming up at Town Meeting, with an estimated cost of $11million for the construction at a later date.

Frank D’Urso:
I think that a new DPW center should be put off for at least one year (if not longer). I understand that they are not in comfortable offices, but I would ask the DPW to bear with us on this issue and start examining it again next year.
When you talk about the insurance money, it should be used to repair the garage/shed that the winter storms knocked down. Insurance should pay for the full amount, or else we didn’t have the proper coverage.

Brian Herr:
Not at this time. The DPW does a good job for Hopkinton. I believe it can do a better job with
stronger management now in place. A new Director is on board. He needs to get the department and
its employees better organized and more efficient first and foremost. I do not want a new facility to
distract him or his team from these objectives. Moreover, our town “economy”, housing prices,
community activities, etc. all center on our schools. The DPW is vitally important for public safety and
many other factors, but a new facility does not impact our community in the same manner as our
schools. We need to table this project for several years in my opinion. That said, we do need some
immediate improvements to the current facilities for the DPW following the heavy snow damage this
past winter.


QUESTION 8: Would you support a “Means Tested Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption” like Sudbury recently passed in conjunction with a school project in January.
http://sudbury.patch.com/articles/town-to-vote-on-unique-tax-break-for-seniors

Frank D’Urso:
I think that’s a wonderful solution for Sudbury, but in Hopkinton we have many families that cannot have even a small tax increase. As RJ Dourney pointed out, we already have a voluntary program in place.
My solution would be to work with the town (Civic Engagement Committee?) and work to publicize the voluntary tax relief fund, we could do a better job of letting people know about it and increasing the money that they collect for the elderly to have some property tax relief.
I’ve been working with Project Just Because (through our Cub Scout Troop 26) for the past two years, and they inform me that requests for help has risen dramatically this year, This is something that we should keep in mind when we consider tax increases.
I want to mention that Project Just Because has the STAMP OUT HUNGER FOOD DRIVE
on May 14th that I would like to alert your members to.

Brian Herr:
I would need to study this concept more and get input from the Board of Assessors and our
professionals in Town Hall before rendering a full opinion on this matter. I like the idea of helping our
seniors but we would need to understand all the ramifications first. If we annoy the businesses by
increasing the tax burden on them, and they end up leaving, then our seniors, along with the rest of us
will have to make up that lost revenue source. Certainly this tax relief idea and perhaps others for our
seniors are something to consider, but also something we need to get a better handle on before
presenting to the town for consideration.


Don’t Forget To Vote Monday, May 16!
Polls are open 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM in the Middle School Gym, 88 Hayden Rowe St (enter by Grove Street). There are several offices up for election including School Committee and Selectmen as well as one ballot question. Read the full ballot at 2011 Annual Town Election Ballot.
Absentee ballots are due Friday, May 13 by 5:00 p.m. to the Town Clerk.

HCAM News Candidate Focus Tonight and School Committee Meeting Thursday

HCAM News Candidate Focus – TONIGHT
Monday, May 9 at 7:00pm
HCAM Studio, 77 Main St
RSVP to news@hcam.tv
Read more…

Candidates in contested races:

Selectmen – 1 position open – 3 year term
Brian Herr (R)
Francis D’Urso (D)

School Committee – 2 positions open – 3 year term
Nancy Burdick (R) (Incumbent)
Richard P. deMont (D) (Incumbent)
Scott Aghababian (R)


School Committee Public Hearing and Meeting
Thursday, May 12 @ 7:30 pm
Middle School Library
The School Committee holds its annual public hearing on School Choice. Every year they must decide by June 1 if Hopkinton will accept school choice students the following year. We have NOT accepted school choice students for several years, however Hopkinton students may still go out of district to other towns that accept school choice students. This year 15.5 students attend out of Hopkinton via School Choice and 34 students attend public charter schools out of Hopkinton.


Recaps from Annual Town Meeting

Town Meeting: Monday Night Recap
by Michelle Murdock, HCAM News Director
http://www.hcam.tv/news/town-meeting-monday-night-recap

May 2011 Town Meeting Recap: Second Night
by Michelle Murdock, HCAM News Director
http://www.hcam.tv/news/may-2011-town-meeting-recap-second-night

Scenes from Hopkinton Town Meeting
By Gene Cassidy, HopkintonPatch
http://hopkinton.patch.com/articles/scenes-from-hopkinton-town-meeting

Hopkinton Town Meeting Closes on 2 Library Yes Votes
By Gene Cassidy, HopkintonPatch
http://hopkinton.patch.com/articles/hopkinton-town-meeting-closes-on-2-library-yes-votes

Support builds for DPW home in Hopkinton.
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff MetroWest Daily News
http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x1760689936/Support-builds-for-DPW-home-in-Hopkinton

Hopkinton Town Meeting approves library renovation, rezoning.
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff The MetroWest Daily News
http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x449047688/Hopkinton-Town-Meeting-approves-library-renovation-rezoning

Town Meeting Results – Articles #43-58 – End of Warrant

ARTICLE 43: Nonconforming Uses Zoning By-Law Change. PASSED Clear 2/3rds

ARTICLE 44: Special Permit for New Lots with Historic Structures Zoning By-Law Change. PASSED Clear 2/3rds

ARTICLE 45: Commercial Solar Photovoltaic Installations Zoning By-Law Change. An amendment failed 99 Against, 95 For. The motion FAILED, 124 For, 72 Against, but needed a 2/3rds.

ARTICLE 46: Water Resources Protection Overlay District Zoning By-Law Change. PASSED Clear 2/3rds Majority

ARTICLE 47: Rural Business District, Setbacks and Screening Zoning By-Law Change. PASSED Unanimous

ARTICLE 48: Open Space Mixed Use District Definitions Zoning By-Law Change. PASSED Clear 2/3rds Majority

ARTICLE 49: Amend Zoning Map: Library Parcels Zoning By-Law Change. PASSED Clear 2/3rds

ARTICLE 50: Amend Zoning Map: Hayward St. and Old Town Rd. NO ACTION Clear Majority

ARTICLE 51: Accept Gift of Land: Granite St. and South Barn Rd. PASSED Unanimous

ARTICLE 52: Disposition of Town Property on Old Town Road. PASSED Unanimous

ARTICLE 53: Library Project Preliminary Design. PASSED Clear Majority

ARTICLE 54: Accept M.G.L. c.32B, §18: Medicare for Retirees NO ACTION Clear Majority

ARTICLE 55: Accept M.G.L. c.32B, §19: Join the GIC NO ACTION Clear Majority

ARTICLE 56: Replace Center School With K-1 School NO ACTION Clear Majority

ARTICLE 57: Build New Middle School, Repurpose Old Middle School NO ACTION Clear Majority

ARTICLE 58: Replace Center and Elmwood Schools With K-3 School NO ACTION Clear Majority

Meeting Adjourned on May 3, 2011 at 11:14pm until the date of the Annual Town Election, May 16, 2011. The Annual Town Meeting shall be dissolved upon the close of the polls on the date of the Annual Town Election.

Town Meeting Results Continued – Articles #34-42 and Article 7 Reconsidered

ARTICLE 34: Fire Department Tender Truck. On 5/2/11 a motion for NO ACTION FAILED 83-57 after a standing count. On 5/3/11 a motion was made by the Fire Chief for $350,000 to be borrowed. An amendment to make this a debt exclusion PASSED Clear Majority. The Fire Chief’s Motion then PASSED after a standing count of 112 For, 52 Against.

ARTICLE 7 RECONSIDERED: FY 2012 Operating Budget New Amount $29,811,188.97 (2 1/2% increase + New Growth) – Amendment by Joe Regan added $7,000 to the budget for a tree warden – Amendment passed on 5/2/11 after a standing count. Article PASSED Unanimous on 5/2/11. On 5/3/11 an additional $125,000 is now added to include insurance proceeds from collapsed DPW Barn, to be used for a temporary DPW structure. An amendment by Ken Weismantel PASSED Clear Majority. Article then PASSED Clear Majority.

ARTICLE 35: ADA Upgrades $138,000. PASSED Clear 2/3rds Majority.

ARTICLE 36: Middle School Wiring Upgrade $95,000. PASSED Unanimous.

ARTICLE 37: Middle School Auditorium Upgrade $47,000. PASSED Clear Majority

ARTICLE 38: Community Preservation Recommendations $862,500 Historical Society Records Preservation, Replace Library Access Ramp, Historic Preservation of Town Records, Kiosk for Cameron Woods, Center Trail Improvements, CAA Terry Farm Barn Upgrades. PASSED Clear Majority

ARTICLE 39: Appropriation Committee Membership By-Law Change. PASSED Unanimous

ARTICLE 40: Printing of Town Report Without ATM Warrant. PASSED Clear Majority

ARTICLE 41: Tobacco Use by Minors. PASSED Clear Majority

ARTICLE 42: Registered Sex Offender Restrictions. PASSED Clear Majority

Town Meeting Results – End of Day 1 – Articles #28-34

ARTICLE 28: DPW Facility Design $250,000 to be borrowed ($125,000 insurance money taken out of the article via amendment to be used for a temporary structure). PASSED by 2/3rds Majority after a standing count

ARTICLE 29: Traffic Study: West Main / School Street Intersection. An amendment offered by Errol Dickey (13 School St.) for $30,000 to be funded from free cash was passed. PASSED Unanimous

– Motion to Reconsider Article 7 Tomorrow Night to include $125,000 from insurance for a temporary DPW barn. Motion to Reconsider PASSED by a Clear 2/3rds Majority –

ARTICLE 30: Storm Water Improvements: EPA Phase II. NO ACTION Clear Majority

ARTICLE 31: Refurbish Fire Engine 1 $45,000. PASSED Unanimous

ARTICLE 32: Fire Department Command and Control Vehicle $45,000. PASSED Clear 2/3rds Majority

ARTICLE 33: Fire Department Ambulance $230,000. PASSED Unanimous

ARTICLE 34: Fire Department Tender Truck. A motion for NO ACTION FAILED 83-57 after a standing count. A new motion in favor of the article will be entertained tomorrow evening.

Meeting adjourned until Tuesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Middle School Auditorium.
Articles on the warrant for tomorrow include the Library Preliminary design, Fire Department Tender Truck, ADA upgrades to town buildings, two Middle School spending articles, CAA Barn Renovation, tobacco use by minors by-law and registered sex offenders restriction by-law.