Like many others, I’m supporting Mark Paolillo for reelection as a Selectman. That’s not because I agree with Mark on every issue; indeed Mark and I continue to disagree on whether a $4.5 million override was in Belmont’s best interests.
But agreement on every issue is not my litmus test for candidates. My litmus tests are demonstrated integrity, sustained fair-mindedness, the ability to work collegially with others in the municipal government eco-system, and general sophistication with respect to the issues he/she is likely to confront in office. On all these tests, Mark scores very highly. We are fortunate that he is eager to serve again. Please join me in voting for Mark Paolillo on Tuesday, April 5.
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 3
As a former elected official who served with Mark for 12 years on the Warrant Committee and Board of Selectmen, I have a unique perspective on his character. I want to share what I know about Mark – his humanity and empathy for his fellow citizens. Mark listens. He gives people a voice. By listening, he is able to build consensus.
Mark’s father passed away last year. Those of us who have suffered this experience know its emotional toll. One’s first instinct is to shed obligations that might interfere with caring for family. Mark concluded, however, that his father would have wanted him to continue his service to his fellow-citizens. Belmont needs Mark’s experience and wisdom.
When I speak of Mark’s “character,” I mean that he always volunteers to take on the toughest projects.
These are projects where there is no political gain. There is a high likelihood of failure. There is a chance that you might lose friends, or gain enemies. They are projects where compromise usually is the only solution, compromise may not leave everyone completely satisfied.
Here are three examples.
Minuteman Vocational Technical School District. On February 22, the Town Meeting approved Mark’s warrant article for a new Regional Agreement for Minuteman. The vote was almost unanimous. For at least 25 years, the cost of Minuteman has been controversial in every Annual Town Meeting budget debate. The debate pitted parents of Minuteman students who valued its vocational-technical education against other parents who felt that the high cost of Minuteman hurt the budget of Belmont Public Schools.
Mark accepted the challenge to engage with all of the other 15 towns in the District – their Selectmen, their administrators, and the governing bodies of Minuteman itself. This was a multi-year challenge that he accepted when he joined the Board. The objective was to make significant changes to a 50-year-old Regional Agreement. Fifty years without real change! After six years of effort, with the help of Jack Weis and Bob McLaughlin, change was achieved.
The Community Path. Committees appointed by the Selectmen have studied the geography, design, and safety aspects of the Path, but it remains unresolved. There are committed proponents (who want safe transportation alternatives that do not emit carbon, and safe walkways for families) and committed opponents (homeowners who abut the proposed Path alternatives).
The only answer must rely on consensus building by a leader who can gain the trust of all parties. This must be a leader like Mark Paolillo who can be relied upon to propose solutions that are fair to all.
The Financial Task Force. The need for a town-wide long-range financial plan has been evident for decades. Mark Paolillo took the challenge, initiated the Financial Task Force, and made it a reality. The Task Force concluded that an override was needed, and Mark provided leadership to the override. Without his thoughtful and sensitive work, the override would not have happened. Mark now needs to take his inclusive approach and build consensus on how to implement the Financial Task Force recommendations.
Importance of this election. High turnover of elected officials in the past two years raises the stakes in this election. One of the Selectmen has only one year of experience in Town governance. Half of the School Committee members will be new, and only one member has negotiated a union contract. Mark’s institutional knowledge is vital to the future of Belmont.
Please join me in re-electing Mark Paolillo as Selectman on Tuesday, April 5. It’s important.
Ralph Jones is a Town Meeting Member for Precinct 3. He also has chaired the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, and the Warrant Committee.
I strongly support Mark Paolillo’s re-election to the Belmont Board of Selectmen. Having worked closely with him for the last six years in my role on the School Committee, I believe Mark to be a great partner for the schools. He has been instrumental in ensuring that the Board of Selectmen and School Committee work collaboratively to create town budgets that maintain critical services.
I served on the town’s Financial Task Force that Mark chaired and saw first-hand how he seeks consensus and is open to differing points of view. He was committed to examining the needs of the town over at least the next three to five years and encouraged input and creative thinking from a wide group of residents. When it became clear that there weren’t sufficient financial resources, Mark led the effort to put an operating override before the voters that staved off painful cuts to the school budget.
Mark provides exactly the type of leadership that we need in Belmont, and I believe his proven experience, dedication and tireless work ethic will continue to serve the town well.
— Laurie Slap, Long Avenue, Belmont
I write today asking you to join me in voting to re-elect Mark Paolillo to Belmont’s Board of Selectmen. Over the past six years, three major opportunities have presented themselves to substantially improve Belmont’s environment.
First, Town Meeting was presented with a Stormwater Management By-law the adoption of which would not only improve water quality in town, but also help decrease the odds of significant flooding.
Second, the Town was presented with choices on a variety of municipal policies that would allow Belmont to qualify for the state’s Green Community program. Through that qualification, Belmont is now able to access hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid to reduce the municipal energy use and thus reduce the town’s carbon footprint.
Third, the Town was presented with choices that could either encourage or impede the ongoing Belmont Goes Solar program. Through this program, Belmont homeowners are given the opportunity to access a substantial price discount, along with state and federal tax credits, to let them reduce their personal electricity bill and the carbon footprint of their individual homes.
In each instance, Mark did not simply talk-the-talk, he walked-the-walk. In each instance, Mark did not engage in passive acquiescence, but he was an early and active supporter.
Mark has been a good friend to Belmont’s environmental community. I urge his re-election on Tuesday, April 5.
34 Warwick Road
I am writing this letter in support of Mark Paolillo for Selectmen. As a School Committee member for 8 years I had the opportunity of working with Mark during his two terms on the Board of Selectmen. I have found him to be a thoughtful consensus builder; an elected official who takes the time to look into the issues and ask questions and listen to opinions before making a decision and, one who will explain those decisions once made.
As chair of the Board of Selectmen, Mark’s emphasis on calling for “one Belmont, one budget” and working collaboratively with School Administrators and Committee members helped move the annual budget process towards less contentious discussions and greater understanding of all departmental needs.
Mark’s leadership in the creation of the Financial Task Force was a key component in securing the successful vote for last year’s override. As a member of this group, I experienced Mark’s direction and reminders that our task was to investigate the needs of the community and to identify efficiencies and cost savings before calling for an override of any amount.
As Mark has pointed out, there is more work to do: implementing suggestions made by the Task Force; working with the School Department to see through the next steps for renovations of Belmont High School and securing the necessary debt exclusion for that project; addressing the other building needs of our town and making sure we are providing services for all of our residents.
I believe that Mark’s experienced leadership makes him the best candidate for Board of Selectmen and ask that you join me in voting for him on April 5th.
Warwick Rd, Town Meeting member precinct 6
Former chair, Belmont School Committee
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” This bit of wisdom from Daniel Patrick Moynihan is important, particularly during town elections. Paul Roberts submitted a letter to the editor to The Belmontonian that is all opinion. No facts. Belmont residents deserve to know the facts.
According to Paul, his candidate (Alexandra Ruban) was drawn into politics by the “. . . sneaking suspicion that something was amiss in the town’s relationship with its recycling contractor.” Alexandra “ . . .discovered that Belmont this year simply renewed its contract without soliciting bids from competing firms and that the Town had been doing this for more than a decade!” In other words, she suspects that Belmont Town has been wasting money because of malfeasance by Town officials.
The head of the Department of Public Works negotiates all contracts. Therefore, this fabricated allegation is a slur on the reputation of two distinguished Town employees: Jay Marcotte and his predecessor, Peter Castanino.
I will not remain silent when the work of these good men is subject to baseless allegations. Peter Castanino devoted two decades of honorable service to the citizens of Belmont. He is one of the finest civil servants ever to serve our town.
Even in political campaigns, there is no room for this type of attack. I am reminded of a time when a Boston attorney challenged a politician with these words: “Have you no decency, sir?”
Let’s review the facts about this year’s contract extension.
- FACT: the two-year bridge contract did not exist when Paul Roberts wrote his letter to the editor. It was considered by the Selectmen on Monday evening, March 7, and Alexandra (who opposed it) did not attend the meeting.
- FACT: when looking for cost savings for our taxpayers, it often is easier to get those savings from an existing contractor.
- FACT: the cost increase in this new contract was driven by a wage increase required by the State’s prevailing wage statute. The two-year extension is a good deal as a bridge to a new five-year contract. Doug Koplow, Chair of the former Solid Waste/ Recycling Committee testified on Monday night and concurred in this assessment.
Let’s review the previous decade. We achieved substantial savings. The Town has done an excellent job of controlling costs. There have been two five-year contracts.
- FACT: the cost of solid waste and recycling has increased by 1.6% per year from FY05 through FY15. That is less than the annual increase in the Town budget. That is good management for Belmont taxpayers.
- FACT: all contracts have been reviewed in public by the Warrant Committee and the Board of Selectmen.
Finally, citizens should understand that Alexandra knew most of these facts. Jay Marcotte explained the history of solid waste and recycling contracts to her in a telephone conversation earlier this year. It appears that Alexandra ignored facts that did not fit her narrative. Governing requires an ability to listen and learn.
In an election year, facts matter. Civility matters. Character matters.
I urge you to re-elect Mark Paolillo as Selectman on April 5.
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 3, former Chair of the School Committee, Warrant Committee, and Board of Selectmen
There are many reasons to support Mark Paolillo’s campaign for re-election to the Board of Selectmen. These include his work in setting the stage for last year’s successful override vote and his work on the Community Preservation Committee and with the Minute Man Regional Vocational School District.
Frustrated by the failure of an override to fix Belmont’s deteriorating roads, Mark was the driving force behind the establishment of the Financial Task Force that looked closely at the Town’s financial present and future needs and determined that existing financial resources were woefully inadequate to satisfy those needs. The task force recommended an override to close the gap. With nearly unanimous support from Town officials, the ensuing override was successful.
Representing the Board of Selectmen on the Community Preservation Committee, Mark has had a hand in projects as diverse as the new Underwood Pool and preservation of the historic William Flagg Homer House at the foot of Belmont Hill. Mark also took a leading role in cobbling together the recently concluded agreement between the 15 member towns which form the Minute Man Regional Vocational School District – quite a feat inasmuch as all 15 towns had to approve it.
With these accomplishments and others in mind, I support Mark’s re-election bid wholeheartedly.
While working on the Financial Task Force with Mark Paolillo, I found it helpful to consider the following questions about the town: Where are we and how did we get here? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? These are good questions for Belmont’s campaign season.
Agreeing on where we are going as a town, deciding how to get there and how to pay for it requires vision and leadership. Fresh, new ideas as well as energy and enthusiasm are important. But, right now Belmont needs a leader with experience and perspective, someone who understands the process of municipal government and can work with others within the limiting parameters of that process. That person is Mark Paolillo.
We know that Belmont faces difficult financial times. Belmont is beginning a high school renovation project that will cost over $100 million and will consume the attention of most of our town departments. Meanwhile, we cannot forget the library, police station and DPW facility. Where will we find the funds to make those projects and other needed initiatives happen? Mark has provided sound financial leadership to the Town throughout his long service on numerous committees and the Board of Selectmen.
It is so easy to suggest that town government is not “transparent.” It is much harder to actually work within the system and be transparent. Mark’s actions, including holding frequent precinct information meetings, have created an atmosphere of integrity and accountability. Process can be tedious and compromise means that not everyone is completely satisfied. Belmont needs concrete solutions to the many challenges facing the town. Sadly, in this campaign, I hear criticism of town employees and impugning of sound decisions. I have yet to hear real ideas and solutions for getting to the future from anyone but Mark.
Anne Marie S. Mahoney
Anne Marie S. Mahoney is Chair of the Capital Budget Committee, a Town Meeting Member, Precinct 1 and a former Selectwoman.
I am writing to urge you to vote for Mark Paolillo for Selectman.
I was appointed Belmont’s representative to the Minuteman School Committee in November 2010. At the time, I had never worked with Mark. However, I have worked closely with him since.
Belmont only sends about 30 students to Minuteman, so Minuteman is an issue that Mark could have decided was not worth his time and energy, or was something to address in a cursory, politically-expedient fashion. Fortunately, for Belmont’s sake, he approached the matter differently. Mark jumped in when he was needed, invested the time to understand the issues, routinely solicited my thoughts and opinions, and, ably represented Belmont’s interests in meetings with the Minuteman administration and with officials from other Minuteman communities. In absolutely every single interaction that I have had with him, Mark has always been motivated by one overriding principle – “do what’s right for Belmont.”
I was also closely involved in the failed 2010 property tax override campaign. Mark was a supporter of that effort to preserve vital town services. More importantly, Mark was instrumental in paving the way for the successful 2015 override vote through his leadership role in creating the Financial Task Force.
From my personal interactions with Mark, and from my observations as a concerned citizen, it is clear that Mark is someone who takes the time to listen to people’s viewpoints, understand the issues, and seek a path that he believes best serves all the Town’s residents. If you are looking for a Selectman who will rigidly adhere to a preconceived position, Mark is definitely not your candidate. However, if you want a Selectman who will work hard, listen to all voices, and govern with the best interests of Belmont in mind, then I urge you vote for Mark Paolillo.
Leadership, experience and vision matter on our board of selectmen.
Last year, we led the override campaign in order to protect our town, to keep the schools strong; to fix our roads, sidewalks and buildings and to avoid encroaching on other town services we all depend on. This work is not done. Belmont is now facing some of its most exciting and most daunting challenges ever.
These challenges require Mark Paolillo’s strong leadership, experience and vision.
Mark believes in a community where individuals make a difference. He is a parent who “put his money where his mouth is” to guarantee the excellence of our schools. With Mark, everyone has a voice, every perspective is important, and consensus is a worthy goal. In Mark’s Belmont, unique places like the Underwood Pool, the Viglirolo Skating Rink, Butler playground, Joey’s Park, the emerging community path and the senior center define this “town of homes.” He fosters the vision that we become a community when we serve our neighbors and strive together to be better.
Mark’s priorities are our priorities, including:
- Shepherding the renovation and rebuild of Belmont High School
- Relieving the budget pressure caused by skyrocketing school enrollment
- Extending the positive impact of the override
- Leading the implementation of identified revenue opportunities and fiscal discipline,
- Achieving consensus around the community path,
- Navigating the murky waters of the Minuteman project.
Mark is uniquely capable of accomplishing these tasks. Mark was a key architect of the override. The financial task force he led performed the analysis that created the override proposal, and he was a primary advocate for passage.
Mark has always been a strong supporter of the Belmont schools as a parent and town leader.
Mark has 12-years of experience analyzing and optimizing Belmont’s complex, $100 million budget.
During his tenure as chair of the board of selectmen, Belmont benefitted from Mark’s skill in consensus building and negotiation. Time after time, he demonstrated his commitment to listen to all residents as a key part of his decision making.
Mark has experience with building projects, as selectman during the construction of the Wellington School and the Underwood Pool.
We believe the effectiveness of the board of selectmen would be compromised without Mark.
Mark has a unique skill set on the board as a CPA who leads a global accounting practice.
Mark is the only selectman with 12 years of Belmont budget experience, compared to the other selectmen who have 1-2 years of experience.
Mark’s institutional knowledge is irreplaceable on the board; he is well versed on every important issue that Belmont has faced for the last 18 years.
This is not the time for “change for the sake of change.”
Of course, there are always things we can do better. Government is a work in progress. And none of us are perfect. We believe Mark sincerely regrets the vote that led to the contentious atmosphere surrounding the Belmont Center project, and he was part of a collaboration that achieved a compromise.
Mark’s leadership has helped Belmont take huge steps forward. We wouldn’t have the override without Mark. Or the Underwood Pool. Or the new Minuteman agreement. Or the financial task force. Mark is the “go-to” selectman to resolve Belmont’s most thorny issues.
There is no one more committed to Belmont’s children and seniors, homeowners and renters, businesses and employees, than Mark Paolillo. He is dedicated to serving this community.
In these exciting and challenging times, Belmont is lucky that Mark Paolillo wants to continue to serve on the board of selectmen.
Ellen Schreiber and Sara Masucci served as co-chairs of the YES for Belmont campaign. Ellen is a member of the warrant committee, town meeting member, co-chair of the Joey’s Park rebuild and secretary of the Underwood Pool Building Committee. Sara served on the Vision 21 Implementation Committee and as a town meeting member.