Dave Powell: Town Moderator

March 5, 2024
David E. Powell is a candidate for Town Moderator.

Dave Powell is not fazed by the prospect of serving as Bedford Town Moderator. “I fully expect that I will like it,” he said.

Powell, 62, grew up in Westwood, a place with “a similar size and feel” to Bedford. When he and his wife Nancy were looking for a place to settle down, “Bedford was slightly more affordable.  We quickly focused on our two daughters – at some point giving your lives almost exclusively for your kids. That’s how you reach out and get to know the rest of the community.” 

Then “your kids move out and you’re back to yourselves.”

Powell said he has volunteered in various ways for about 25 of the 30 years he has resided in Bedford. 

“I’ve always been interested in community involvement,” he said. “It’s the best way to meet my neighbors and interact with people.”

One of his longer commitments was about eight years as a member of the Finance Committee. 

He resigned after the COVID-19 pandemic eased, and “I’ve been looking carefully for the next opportunity that would interest me, fit my schedule, be something I would be good at, and something the town is looking for.”

Late last year, “all of a sudden it became apparent to me.” A one-year unexpired term as moderator would be on the 2024 ballot, and “there weren’t too many other people interested.” 

He added that he will “reassess” after Town Meeting before committing to seeking the full three-year term on the 2025 ballot.

“One of the reasons why it works is it’s a very broad, generalist type of involvement, not necessary to be an expert. That’s what made the job interesting to me,” Powell explained. “It is an intense period of participation, and you know what the schedule is.” 

Powell has tried to do his homework. 

“One of the first things I did was call Betsey [former longtime Moderator Betsey Anderson] and speak to her and hear her insights.” 

He said he also has had conversations with Anderson’s successor, former Moderator Cathy Cordes. And he spent some time on the Massachusetts Moderators Association website.

“My focus is really going to be on learning how to be a good town moderator and how to run an efficient, congenial, productive, and successful town meeting,” Powell said. “The town moderator position is not about policy. It’s more about the ability to do the job and the process.” 

He envisioned the experience of presiding at Town Meeting: “I’m excited about it. I’m not uncomfortable being out in front of an audience. I’m intrigued by the idea that as moderator, I’m going to stay above the fray, and I’m not going to have opinions.”

Powell is planning a walk-through with town officials in about three weeks. “This will be a quick spring to get ready,” he said.

Powell is the third-generation owner and treasurer of his family’s international shipping business, based in Canton and with 12 offices around the country. “It’s still a big priority for me, so moderator fits well,” he said. After developing a “global network” over 20 years, “I’m now more inward-looking.”

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