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Meet the Finalists for Town Manager

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On Thursday, June 20, the town hosted a community forum with the finalists for the position of Hopkinton’s Town Manager. The job has been vacant following the departure of long-time Town Manager Norman Khumalo, who retired from municipal service in April. 

The finalists are:

  • Lance Delpriore, Town Engineer, Foxborough
  • Christopher Senior, Town Manager, Cohasset
  • Jason Hoch, previous Town Manager, Williamstown
  • Elaine Lazarus, Interim Town Manager, Hopkinton 

Lance Delpriore

Lance Delpriore

Lance Delpriore has a solid foundation in municipal management and engineering. His blend of technical expertise, strategic vision, and commitment to community welfare makes him unique within the field of candidates.

Delpriore serves as the town engineer and assistant DPW Director in Foxborough, MA. He previously held the role of assistant town engineer in Sharon. His tenure in these positions has given him a robust civil engineering and public works background.

Delpriore is equipped with a deep understanding of infrastructure management, public safety, and the intricate workings of municipal governance.

Prior to his career in municipal management, Delpriore’s tenure as an air traffic controller in the US Air Force honed his ability to maintain composure under pressure, showcasing his resilience and capacity for decisive action—a trait essential for navigating complex municipal challenges.

Delpriore clearly understands Massachusetts’ municipal governance structures, highlighting three primary models: Town Meeting, Representative Town Meeting, and Town Council. His preference for direct democracy underlines his commitment to ensuring residents have a voice in local decision-making, advocating for transparency and community involvement.

Central to Delpriore’s platform is his strategic approach to fiscal responsibility and support for vulnerable populations, namely over-taxed seniors. He stresses the importance of exploring alternative revenue streams while safeguarding local businesses. This illustrates a balanced approach to economic sustainability. His initiatives in Foxborough, such as assisting seniors with water bill relief, underscore his proactive stance on community welfare.

Delpriore’s stance on tax policy resonates with his commitment to financial prudence. He advocates for minimal tax increases and the importance for taxpayers to understand the difference between tax overrides and debt exclusions. This will empower taxpayers with clarity and the ability to make informed choices.

Delpriore stressed that “a tax override results in a permanent tax increase, typically used to fund recurring operational expenses. debt exclusions result in a temporary tax increase and are typically used to pay the debt service from bonding for a specific capital project, such as building a new school.”

Recognizing the critical role of transparency in governance, Delpriore emphasizes early and inclusive budget planning processes to avoid last-minute conflicts. His advocacy for accessible communication and centralized public outreach aims to bridge gaps in understanding between municipal operations and residents.

Addressing critical infrastructure needs, Delpriore stresses the importance of regular maintenance, particularly in replacing water meters, to ensure accurate billing and revenue management. When asked how to fix Hopkinton’s elevated unaccounted-for water rate of 20% (normal is 10%), he said that most of the time, unaccounted-for water is due to worn-out meters. “Water meters wear out after 10 years. The bill must be paid for the water consumed at the end of the day. We want to ensure people are charged fairly for their usage and reduce the unaccounted-for water. Therefore, it’s important to replace water meters every 10 years or so.” This speaks to his commitment to operational efficiency and fiscal prudence.

When asked about his motivation to pursue the town manager position in Hopkinton, Delpriore cited his career-long aspiration and highlighted the community’s active engagement as the compelling draw. His experience in communities similar in size and growth dynamics positions him ideally to navigate Hopkinton’s evolving needs and aspirations.

Lance Delpriore’s candidacy for Hopkinton’s town manager embodies technical proficiency, strategic foresight, and community-centered leadership. His track record in municipal management and his commitment to fiscal responsibility and inclusive governance make him someone who can steer Hopkinton toward a prosperous and sustainable future.

Christopher Senior

Christopher Senior

Christopher Senior brings a wealth of experience, a proven track record of success, and a deep commitment to community engagement and effective governance.

Currently serving as Cohasset’s town manager for the past decade, Senior’s tenure is marked by transformative achievements and strategic initiatives. As the deputy town supervisor in North Hempstead, New York (also a decade), he successfully implemented aging-in-place programs, enhanced infrastructure, and established innovative community services. His leadership in creating a 311 call center exemplifies his commitment to modernizing municipal services and improving accessibility for residents.

Senior’s educational journey, including dual bachelor’s degrees in journalism and economics from Boston University and a law degree from Hofstra University, underscores his multifaceted approach to problem-solving and governance.

His early career in journalism gave him the keen ability to communicate effectively, a skill vital in fostering transparency and community trust.

Under Senior’s guidance, Cohasset has prioritized transparency through robust communication strategies. A dedicated communications professional manages social media platforms and facilitates weekly video updates, ensuring residents are informed and engaged. This proactive approach enhances transparency and strengthens community cohesion—a cornerstone of effective governance.

Senior explained that local government is a team effort, especially in New England. “It’s about collaboration, listening, and helping people find consensus. In my experience, we can almost always reach a consensus, even with divergent viewpoints. Over the past decade, my role has been to help the community achieve its goals, some of which were developed through a structured process I led.”

Understanding the financial landscape is crucial for any town manager. Senior’s assessment of Hopkinton’s financial position highlights his pragmatic approach to fiscal management. He recognizes the challenges posed by major capital investments. He also advocates for strategic planning, including seeking alternative funding sources like grants and fostering partnerships with neighboring communities—a strategy essential for managing infrastructure projects effectively.

Senior’s commitment to maintaining and upgrading essential infrastructure underscores his proactive stance on long-term municipal sustainability. His focus on infrastructure maintenance, including underground utilities and water systems, aligns with Hopkinton’s needs and ensures preparedness for future challenges. Senior is convinced that Capital improvements, especially those out of sight like underground pipes and behind-the-wall infrastructure, are crucial. “If not maintained, these can lead to severe problems when least expected. Regularly checking and investing in sewer lines and other infrastructure is vital.”

Senior’s affinity for Hopkinton’s community spirit and cultural assets, such as the vibrant arts center and the scenic park, resonates with his vision for fostering growth while preserving local character. His experience in managing larger towns equips him to navigate Hopkinton’s growth dynamics effectively, ensuring balanced development and enhanced quality of life for residents.

As Hopkinton considers its next steps, Christopher Senior stands ready to leverage his expertise and passion for municipal governance, ensuring that Hopkinton continues to thrive as a vibrant community where residents are informed, engaged, and proud to call home.

Jason Hoch

Jason Hoch

Jason Hoch, a Hopkinton resident, is currently the Deputy Director, Innovation Institute at Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, previously he was the town manager of Williamstown, MA.

Hoch received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College and then he completed a graduate program in community and regional planning from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Hoch has been involved in an interesting administrative matrix where ownership roles are spread across multiple parties without a clear head. This model, akin to corporate structures with matrix management, involves navigating complexities to achieve effective governance.

In his experience, he emphasizes the importance of aligning practices and fostering mutual understanding among stakeholders, much like managing diverse roles in organizations such as IBM or Digital Equipment Corporation.

Reflecting on his background, Jason has encountered varied municipal governance models. For instance, as town manager in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he oversaw all hiring within the town hall, except for separate entities like the fire department and library, which were governed by distinct districts. Although rooted in historical New England frameworks, this decentralized setup posed unique challenges and opportunities for effective leadership and coordination.

Regarding personnel dynamics, Jason notes the diversity in how different towns structure their management roles, from elected officials like fire chiefs transitioning into broader administrative roles to the complexities of appointing deputy chiefs amidst board responsibilities outlined in town charters. Such variations underscore the need for clear communication and strategic alignment across all levels of municipal governance.

In addressing development pressures and land conservation, Jason advocates for a balanced approach that preserves open spaces while strategically managing growth.

Drawing on his experience, he highlights the economic benefits of conserving open spaces, citing studies demonstrating cost savings in community services. His approach in Williamstown involved collaborative efforts among local commissions, private land trusts, and community initiatives, ensuring thoughtful and sustainable development practices.

Looking ahead, Jason emphasizes the importance of breaking down silos within municipal departments to foster better communication and alignment across town initiatives. He believes effective leadership involves understanding the broader organizational landscape and serving as a conduit for information exchange, preventing surprises, and ensuring cohesive decision-making.

In conclusion, Jason Hoch brings a wealth of experience and a strategic mindset to Hopkinton, aiming to enhance governance practices, navigate complex administrative structures, and promote sustainable development for the town’s future prosperity.

Elaine Lazarus

Elaine Lazarus, taking the oath of office administered by Town Clerk Connor Degan.

Elaine Lazarus currently serves as the interim town manager of Hopkinton, having previously held the role of assistant town manager since 2016. She has been integral to the town’s administration, stepping in as acting town manager during absences.

Lazarus’ tenure in Hopkinton dates back to 1992, when she started as the Director of Land Use, Permitting, and Planning. Over the years, she has overseen significant departmental responsibilities, including her current assistant town manager role while managing land use and planning.

Educationally, Elaine holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from UMass Amherst and a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University. Her career path evolved from the director of land use, where she served as a planner and later as planning director before assuming leadership in the Land Use Department.

Reflecting on her experience with the new Select Board, Lazarus values the infusion of fresh perspectives and ideas, finding it invigorating to collaborate with diverse viewpoints.

Per Ken Weismantel, “One of Lazarus’ notable strengths is her ability to align town management with the direction set by the Select Board, regardless of political leanings. Her adaptive leadership style ensures that town policies and initiatives reflect the board’s collective vision.”

Addressing recent staff turnover, Lazarus attributes departures to various factors such as retirements and career advancements. She emphasizes the town’s efforts to enhance employee benefits, including paid parental leave and increased vacation time, to retain talent and foster a supportive workplace.

When asked about her motivation to pursue the town manager position permanently, Lazarus expresses a passion for decision-making, organizational efficiency, and guiding Hopkinton through a period of growth and change. She sees her role as crucial in managing transitions and facilitating positive community developments.

Lazarus identifies financial management as a key priority, especially as the town prepares for budget season amid fiscal challenges. She advocates for collaborative planning involving stakeholders and residents to ensure sustainable financial practices and efficient service delivery.

Regarding recent payroll issues, Lazarus acknowledges human and system-related factors and assures residents that corrective measures have been implemented. She discusses plans to transition from Muni, the current payroll system, to a more reliable alternative for smoother operations.

Looking forward, Lazarus envisions a strategic approach to budgeting that focuses on outcomes and service delivery. She proposes a holistic review of departmental needs and potential collaborations to optimize resources effectively.

Elaine Lazarus brings extensive experience, strategic vision, and a commitment to collaborative governance to her role as interim town manager. She is poised to lead Hopkinton through its current challenges and future opportunities while hoping to make the town manager a permanent appointment.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Why were the candidates not listed in alphabetical order?

    As listed in the article, the candidates appear to be ranked.

  2. Since seeing this article, some people have asked me for my thoughts from that night (because I’m pictured in the article). Each time I’m asked about it, I just pull out my notebook and read my notes to them.

    While at the library that night, I saw candidates Elaine Lazarus and Chris Senior, Esq. respond to questions from me and from other residents. I took copious notes.

    I entered the Library through the front door and immediately saw Elaine Lazarus being interviewed by residents at a table. I continued through the front registration area and saw candidate Jason Hoch being interviewed by residents in a room on the left. It was pretty crowded in there, with onlookers Brian Herr and Joe Clark in attendance, too. I asked the hosts about where the other two interviewees were; they told me that they were downstairs and were quite busy with other residents. They handed me a paper that summarized their backgrounds in a sentence or two. I figured I might as well start where I was, and so I entered Elaine Lazarus’ room.

    I sat down at a large table, flanked by several citizens. Joe Clark, Mary-Jo LaFreniere, and Patricia Duarte looked on from the outer edges of the room while other citizens (including me) sat with Elaine at the table. Later on that night, I went downstairs with some of those same folks, and ended up sitting at a table with candidate Chris Senior.

    Below are my notes from watching first Elaine Lazarus and then Chris Senior in responding to residents’ questions (including mine). Things in quotes (listed below) are a direct quote of what that person said. Things not in quotes are summaries of what I heard/interpreted that person to be saying to us.

    One quick comment about why my written notes (reduced now to this comment) only cover Ms. Lazarus and Mr. Senior…
    The event unfortunately ended before I got a chance to meet with Lance DelPriore; I only got to chat with Mr. DelPriore very briefly, while standing and readying to leave, before he, I and others were politely ushered out of the library. I never got to speak with Jason Hoch at all.

    Again…Things below are not in quotes unless they are direct quotes. Otherwise, they are things I summarized from what appeared to be unambiguous responses to questions posed. My notes, below, are not organized in any particular way. I’m typing them here as I wrote them down that night. I have not researched the law on the legal positions/interpretations that the candidates took on the subjects discussed that night. Where a statement by one of the candidate’s might seem ambiguous, I left my note alone, as is; I don’t want to “guess” at what they meant.

    That said, folks thought it might be helpful to some if I shared my notes with you here. So here you go…

    Elaine Lazarus:
    She lived in Harvard, MA.
    She worked on a fiscal impact team in Harvard; viewed their deficit. Was on successor committee.
    She prepped for tonight’s meet-n-greet by talking to former Town Managers and others who used to work for Hopkinton.
    Hopkinton has an “Open” town meeting law government, not a “General” town meeting law town.
    Select Board Members and Committee Members are not required to submit their notes.
    Select Board Members and the Town Manager rely on ethics codes, such as those that are generated by the ICMA. [https://icma.org] Ms. Lazarus is a member of that group. “Ethics” rules are “to the person, not to the community.” For example, “You can’t be on the [Select] Board and [then also] drive the [Town] van [or something like that]. That’s a conflict.” Other examples of ethics violations that EL gave: SB Members who also work for the Town, SB Members who accept certain gifts.
    She thinks most ethics violations [by any town’s Select Board members] are inadvertent. But many [ethics] codes have strict liability.
    She would report any ethical violations of the Select Board that she witnessed [should it ever happen].
    While serving as the Assistant Town Manager and now the Interim Town Manager, she never saw the Select Board violate any ethical rules.
    She will build community trust by being “open” and “transparent.” She would issue more newsletters. She would create a “repository on the website of everything people need to see.” When asked for clarification about which records would be put on that public website, she said that she’d “put it all out there.”
    Regarding Darlene Hayes’ alleged use of 23 or so pseudonyms to harass last year’s school committee candidate Ashely Fogg, Ms. Lazarus said, “It saddens me she felt she had to do that.” When asked for clarification on who “she” was in that sentence, Ms. Lazarus said, “Darlene.”
    Had Ms. Lazarus been the Town Manager during the events involving Darlene Hayes and Ashley Fogg, she (Ms. Lazarus) would not have done anything differently [than how Norm Khumalo handled them or didn’t handle them].

    Chris Senior, Esq.:
    He thinks it helps that he’s a lawyer who’s familiar with municipal/town law.
    He doesn’t like to reinvent the wheel, if avoidable. He would call upon other Towns’ experiences, not just in Massachusetts but nationwide, for ideas/examples.
    “I fixed Cohasset; I can fix Hopkinton.”
    “My goals and opinions don’t matter; only the citizens matter.”
    In most towns, the Select Board appoints the Town Manager, the Town counsel, the police chief, and the fire chief.
    Mr. Senior said he’d have to go back to confirm that his knowledge was accurate, but, for just going from experience and memory that night, he recalled the following things about how the law governs a Town’s “strong” or “weak” police chief. Again…to be clear…Mr. Senior was going from his memory when he said the following things and cautioned that he’d have to go do the research to confirm whether these comments of his, below, were, in fact, true. So if any of the following statements contain false information, then I’m certain Mr. Senior would be the first to say that he got it wrong. He was answering questions on the fly; he didn’t have the luxury of looking everything up in the books, so to speak, while chatting with the residents. Anyways, that said, and for what it’s worth, here is what Mr. Senior said in response to questions from the residents (and going from his memory and his guess-timation, only):
    * Hopkinton is a “civil service” town.
    * If the Charter says that the police chief is a “weak” chief under 97 (which it does, until the Legislature fixes it, pursuant to the Town’s request), then that means that the Chief’s appointment is a contract position (i.e., is tenured) where the police chief is appointed by the Select Board for a specific term (period of time).
    * A “weak” chief can be fired for any reason at any time.
    * If a Town’s Charter says that the police chief is a “strong” chief under 97A, then the police chief’s job is a life tenured position (not a contractual position), subject to the civil service exam (meaning that the Town must hire whichever job candidate scores highest on the civil service exam).
    * A Town cannot create a “strong” chief by contract.
    * A “strong” chief position is not a contract position.
    * The only reason a Town might choose to sign a contract with someone hired as a “strong” chief is because the Town wishes to grant him/her extra protections in the event of his/her later termination.
    * A “strong” chief reports to the Select Board, not to the Town Manager.
    “If I had the authority to put public policies online, I would.” When asked to clarify, he said that those “public policies” included the example of all of the HPD’s police policies.
    Currently, Cohasset’s police policies are posted online for the public to access at any time.
    Personnel reviews are “problematic” when conducted in public.
    Each Select Board Member can take notes during public meetings or executive sessions, but those notes are not discoverable by the public pursuant to a public records request. They become discoverable (by the public) only if and when that Member puts his/her personal notes into an “official file.” (But he did not elaborate on what makes a Member’s file “official.”) Drafts of documents also are not discoverable. That said, the “packet” [that was given to the Select Board before Brennan’s Loudermill hearing] and the Select Board’s resulting “resolutions” are discoverable by the public.
    The Town Manager reports to the Select Board.

    The event ended before I got a chance to speak with either of the two other candidates. I spoke with Lance DelPriore on my way out, but I was standing up and couldn’t take notes, so I can’t share anything about him. That said, I very much liked him (for the few minutes that we spoke).

    I didn’t even get to shake hands with Jason Hoch, so I have no idea what he’s like.

    Reflecting back on the night, I think Elaine was the most impressive to me, simply because she clearly stated that she’d basically publish all Town records for the public to see, and transparency like that always is a nice way to win the public’s trust. This would obviate the need for people to use the public records law to obtain records. As a result, the Town Clerk’s office could be freed up to do other work, and wouldn’t have to spend time answering public records requests. That seems like a better and wiser use of taxpayers’ money. In addition, she seemed cognizant of her ethical obligations, which is refreshing.

    I saw three Select Board Members present: Brian Herr, Joe Clark, and Mary-Jo LaFrieniere. I don’t think Shahidul Mannan or Amy Ritterbusch were there; a few people commented that they hadn’t seen them, either, that night. But maybe they swung in and out of there without my friends and I ever seeing them.

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