HomeOpinionLTE: Why I Endorse Herr and Clark

LTE: Why I Endorse Herr and Clark

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20th Century Homes

Dear Editor,

I am pleased to endorse Brian Herr and Joe Clark for the upcoming Select Board race in Hopkinton on Monday, May 20, 2024.

I want to thank all four candidates for their willingness to run for an office that requires significant time and effort, is unpaid, and involves public scrutiny. It takes a lot of courage to step up like this.

To research the candidates, I watched the HCAM candidate debate (twice). I also attended an in-person meet-and-greet, where I spoke with each candidate, and followed up with phone calls to hear their thoughts on the event.

I was impressed by how respectfully each candidate treated one another. It’s refreshing to see capable, intelligent candidates willing to collaborate, which is a stark contrast to last year.

Reminders

Article 2 from last fall’s Special Town Meeting (passed): Ballots will no longer have party designations. A “yes” vote agrees to remove, a “no” vote keeps party info (D, R, U) on the ballots.

Article 5 of this year’s Special Town Meeting (passed): A symbolic vote to reinstate Sgt. Tim Brennan. A “yes” vote indicates the Select Board did not represent the will of the people, a “no” vote supports the Select Board’s decision.

Brian Herr

How does Brian prepare for the Annual Town Meeting (ATM)? He goes through the budget to understand the issues. Brian is the most experienced candidate in the field with 12 years as a Select Board member. He is unenrolled and against partisan politics, having voted in favor of Article 2 last year. His thorough knowledge of municipal finance stood out. Brian provided specific answers during the debate, demonstrating his deep understanding of the town budget and municipal finance.

Brian is concerned about future revenue declines and rising expenses. He is willing to implement a hiring/spending freeze, a strategy successfully used during the 2008 financial crisis, whilehe was serving on the Select Board. 

He emphasized that the Annual Town Meeting is the ultimate decision-maker, not the Select Board. According to Herr, “We are an Open Town Meeting form of government. We are not a select board form of government. Town Meeting is the ultimate decision maker for everything we do in Hopkinton. The SB’s charge is in-between Annual Town Meetings (ATM)— to get us ready for the next ATM, but also to enact what the previous ATM said to do.”

Herr continued, “I’m a big believer in following the general will of the ATM, which is the general will of the broader community, because those that show up get to vote. When we do that, we build trust in the community, and when we don’t do that, we tear down trust between the two bodies.”

If elected, Brian will be looking for a Town Manager (TM) who is a great listener, someone who will lead by example, will have experience in a community such as ours, and someone with a strong personality. He believes the TM is essentially the 6th person on the SB but doesn’t have a vote. The TM must not be afraid to weigh in – they should feel like they are part of the board.

Brian’s experience and understanding of municipal finance make him an invaluable asset to the Select Board. He also looks forward to working with Joe Clark to lead the town into the future.

Herr voted in favor of Article 5 of the STM this year. He believes the hiring and firing of personnel should be done in executive session and it should never have become public.

If you haven’t watched the debate, do yourself a favor and watch it here before casting your vote. If nothing more, you’ll learn a lot about how this Town runs and municipal finance from Brian Herr. 

I don’t think anyone could have written a better, more informed, endorsement for Brian Herr than Jean Bertschmann. Thanks, Jean.

Peter Mimmo

I enjoyed meeting Peter Mimmo at the meet and greet. However, I cannot endorse him for the Select Board due to our differing opinions on key issues. He’s a member of the HDTC (perfectly fine in my book), and he thought the antics of HDTC Chair lastyear were “a bit short sighted.” That’s where our opinions differ. He voted against Article 2 of the STM last year and he found Article 5 of the STM this year to be “inappropriate.” Not agreeing with article 5 is one thing, but inappropriate? Again, it’s just a difference of opinion, and that’s why we vet the candidates before voting. It’s not surprising that he agreed with the Select Board’s decision to fire Sgt. Brennan. 

Joe Clark

Joe Clark has deep roots in Hopkinton, he’s not enrolled in any political party, and supported STM Article 2 last year. He also supported STM Article 5 this year. In my opinion, he hit the nail on the head when he said, “This is not politics, this is public service.” He understands the difference between “needs” and “wants,” which I believe is crucial for the SB to be successful.

Clark has a background in accounting and finance, and he’s well-versed in budgets—qualities that are essential for our SB members to understand. Joe is looking for a Town Manager who can handle budgets, has experience in municipal finance, and can lead effectively. He emphasized the need for someone who can reestablish confidence in Town Hall.

One of his statements that stood out to me was, “While the name of the job is Town Manager, we need a Leader.” He went on to explain, “We can’t have a Town Manager managing the day-to-day operations of everything.” Joe believes that the Town Manager should set the tone for the next decade and clearly differentiate between managing and leading. His perspective on leadership and budget management makes him a strong candidate for the Select Board.

Kyla McSweeney

I enjoyed meeting both Kyla and her husband at the meet and greet. However, like Peter Mimmo, I cannot endorse Kyla due to our differing opinions on key issues. Kyla is a member of the HDTC, and she did not speak out against the actions of the HDTC Chair last year. She also voted against STM Article 2 last year and STM Article 5 this year. She believed the Select Board had more information on the Sgt. Brennan case than the public, even though the information was published.

Kyla’s lack of specific answers during the debate and in person, along with her significant time commitments as a professional with two jobs, raises concerns about her ability to fully dedicate herself to the Select Board role.

To be clear, I have no problem with the HDTC, but I find it concerning when members do not speak out strongly against problematic actions. 

In conclusion, I believe Brian Herr and Joe Clark are the best candidates for the Select Board. Their experience, understanding of finance, budgets, and their leadership qualities are crucial for the future of Hopkinton.

Sincerely,

Paula Garland, Downey Street

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1 COMMENT

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with Paula on this endorsement!

    Brian Herr is a class act and his prior leadership experience in leading this town is legendary, and exactly what this town needs at this point in time.

    Joe Clark most likely has the deepest town roots of any candidate ever! To say that he bleeds Hiller Green is an understatement. Joe is the consummate team player, and his love for this town is unparalleled. There isn’t a whole lot of things that have made this town what it is today that doesn’t have some sort of his family’s stamp attached. I believe that his passion and love for Hopkinton will preserve the qualities that have made the town a great place to raise a family.

    Best of luck to both Brian and Joe and please consider voting for both of them, consider it to be an investment in our future, you won’t be sorry!

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