By Julie McCay Turner
Bedford’s 2015 Citizens’ Caucus, the first step in defining the ballot for the Town Election on March 14 was held on January 6 in the Town Hall Multi-Purpose Room.
Because no candidates for the open seat on the Bedford School Committee came forward at his first request, Citizens’ Caucus chairman Mike Rosenberg tabled the question. Even when the question was reopened at the end of the meeting, no candidates stood to replace Abbie Seibert in the 2015 election for Bedford School Committee.
Bedford residents may obtain nomination papers for the School Committee seat and all the other offices on the March 14 ballot from the Town Clerk’s office through the close of business on Wednesday, January 21, and must return them with the required number of signatures by Friday, January 23.
Later Rosenberg said, “Some people might think chairing the Citizens’ Caucus is like caddying at a miniature golf course. But I take it seriously because those who are seeking public office do, as do their supporters. The ideas and commentary presented are nothing less than the foundation for the town’s future.”
For the other races, Bedford’s 2015 nominating caucus turned up no surprise candidates, and no potential contests. Each of this year’s incumbents was awarded the ballot designation “Caucus Nominee” with a unanimous vote.
Assessor – 1 position for a 3-year term
Caucus nominee: Ron Cordes
Nominated by John Linz, Ron Cordes will be on the ballot for a second term as assessor. Linz characterized Cordes as both a good neighbor and a good citizen, as well as a “data junkie” for his ability to parse large quantities of information. Cordes noted both his accomplishments in furthering a customer-centric atmosphere in the assessor’s office, for helping to discover a $1.6M addition in new revenue, and what he termed “Clause 18” exemptions to help relieve undue tax burdens.
Board of Health, 2 positions for 3-year terms
Caucus nominees: Anita Raj and Sarah Thompson
Board of Health member Tom Kinzer nominated his colleague Sarah Thompson for her second term, citing her background as a nursing educator/administrator as being helpful to the board. An advocate and supporter of the Healthy Bedford program, Thompson noted she is also interested in studying and curbing opioid use.
Noting her background in high tech and subsequent masters degree in nursing, Bea Brunkhorst nominated her Board of Health colleague Anita Raj for a second term. Raj spoke of her interest in issues both large and small.
Housing Authority, 1 positions for a 4-year term
Caucus nominee: Robert Schmalz
Brown Pulliam nominated fellow Carleton Willard resident Robert Schmalz to fill the remainder of the term on the Housing Authority to which Schmalz was recently appointed. As an attorney interested in housing issues, Schmalz brings experience gained as an Alderman and member of the New Haven (CT) Housing Authority, as well as a member of a non-profit corporation engaged in creating low-income housing.
Library Trustee, 2 positions for 3-year terms
Caucus nominees: Robert Batt and Michael Pulizzi
Nominating each other, Robert Batt and Michael Pulizzi spoke of the importance of libraries as free, community resources. They went on to compliment each other for thoughtful responses to issues, and the board as a whole on its ability to work together on difficult topics.
Both candidates have served on the Library Corporation and as chairman of the Board of Trustees. Each has served two prior terms.
Planning Board, 1 position for a 3-year term
Caucus nominee: Jeffrey Cohen
In nominating Jeffrey Cohen, Planning Board member Lisa Mustapich cited Cohen’s professional credentials as a LEED-Certified architectural engineer with an 18-year career as a volunteer on Bedford’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Cohen spoke of his leadership during the board’s Comprehensive Plan process, his commitment to walkable/bikeable connectivity throughout Bedford, the mixed-use overlay zoning at Depot Park, and redevelopment of large parcels that would allow ”cottage style” housing – smaller residences with communal open space.
Shawsheen Regional Vocational School District Board, 1 position for a 3-year term
Caucus nominee: Glenn McIntyre
In nominating Glenn McIntyre for a second term on the Shawsheen board, Bea Brunkhorst described the benefits of a Shawsheen education as an underutilized resource for Bedford students. McIntyre went on to explain the advantages of Shawsheen’s unique structure, where classroom time alternates with shop experience, and its unique opportunity for high school students to both learn and earn compensation in the school’s Co-op program;
Shawsheen Regional Vocational School District Board, 1 position to fill an unexpired term
Caucus nominee: Donald Drouin
Carol Amick nominated Donald Drouin to fill the term to which he was appointed earlier this year. She noted that Drouin has 15 years’ experience on the board, helping with the transition to computer-based learning, and that he cares greatly for the school. Drouin complimented the Shawsheen staff and leadership for their successes, and for the school’s active search for funding, most recently a $256,000 grant for the metal fabrication shop. Drouin said that he is happy to be back on the board and involved at Shawsheen.
School Committee, 1 position for a 3-year term
Caucus nominee: None
No candidates stepped forward during the Caucus so the eventual School Committee candidates will need to take out nomination papers and collect signatures to get onto the ballot.
Selectmen, 1 position for a 3-year term
Caucus nominee: Margot Fleischman
“It is a joy to nominate Margot Fleischman,” said former Selectman Cathy Cordes. Outlining her contributions since moving to Bedford 10 years ago, Cordes mentioned Fleischman’s work on sidewalks, the Community Preservation Committee, the Planning Board, the Energy Task Force and efforts to improve opportunities and safety for residents walking and biking around town. Fleischman has also promoted business development and regional transportation planning through the Middlesex 3 Coalition. “But,” Cordes concluded, “she has the best qualification of all: She loves living in Bedford, and being a Selectman.”
Fleischman claimed that “Perseverance is the most important tool” in accomplishing town-wide goals, and there are multiple initiatives she hopes to see through to completion. Those include working to rebalance our tax rate through an increase in the town’s commercial tax base; adding transportation resources; protecting the town’s AAA bond rating and maintaining the town’s capital infrastructure through planned investment; enhancing safety and accessibility for Bedford’s pedestrians and cyclists; continuing to improve water and sewer systems; and following the Pine Hill Road/Coast Guard housing redevelopment project through to completion. In conclusion, Fleischman said, “I will be honored to have the chance to continue on the board.”
Click here to read Cathy Cordes’s nomination for Margot Fleischman or click here to read Margot Fleischman’s speech.
Are you registered to vote in Bedford’s March 14 election?
To participate in the 2015 Town Election, voters must register on or before February 20. The Town Clerk’s office is open for voter registration and to pick up nomination papers between 8 am and 4 pm each day.