HomeOpinionThe 2024 Election will be Unlike any Other

The 2024 Election will be Unlike any Other

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A new chapter is unfolding in Hopkinton, signaling a shift in the dynamics of local governance and community engagement. Look no further than the recall initiative underway, or the public comment portions of recent Select Board meetings for evidence. In the past few months there has been a great awakening of residents, who formerly didn’t interest themselves in local matters, but now understand that this is where their efforts can make the biggest impact. 

Historically, the electoral landscape in Hopkinton was distinctly partisan, with candidates wearing their political affiliations like badges of honor, clearly demarcated as Democrats or Republicans on the ballot. This traditional approach to elections often drew lines in the sand, dividing our community along ideological lines. But last November at the Special Town Meeting, Hopkinton voters emphatically signaled that they’d had enough of partisanship, and voted to approve Article 2, which eliminated party caucusing and party affiliation on the ballot. 

Though Article 2 was passed in Hopkinton, it is not yet law, hung up on Beacon Hill. Legally, it is business as-usual for the HRTC and HDTC; they can still caucus and nominate candidates. Gratefully, both decided against it, in accordance with the will of Hopkinton voters.

The move away from party politics is not just administrative. It represents a deeper cultural shift towards valuing competence, integrity, and community service above partisan politics. It invites candidates from all backgrounds to step forward, bringing fresh perspectives to the table, unencumbered by party agendas. Ideally, this change will produce a more collaborative approach to Hopkinton’s governance, where the best ideas win.

Yet, the journey to this point was not without its challenges. The rise of social media as a double-edged sword in political discourse became particularly evident in past election cycles, most notably in the May 2023 election for School Committee. It is widely known that HopNews, the Hopkinton Independent, and Facebook were used to smear and discredit one particular candidate. And this was not the first time. Powerful Facebook groups such as the Real Housewives of Hopkinton have become the graveyard for candidates who don’t share the ideals of the group’s moderators. 

This toxic environment, fueled by a handful of bad actors, cast a long shadow over the political landscape, deterring many potential candidates from stepping into the arena. The fear of personal attacks and the toll on one’s family became a significant barrier to entry, depriving Hopkinton of valuable voices and leadership.

And readers, I must level with you: It was not just the former head of the HDTC that created pseudonyms and newsjacked the School Committee election. In fact, there were are least two others that did the same, and both are elected officials. While Ms. Hayes took the brunt of the criticism, she was not the only one. This fact came to light several months later, but it hardly seemed worth it to reopen an old wound. 

This will not happen again. Transparency is a great equalizer. The exposure of nefarious social activity has been a cathartic process for Hopkinton, serving as a wake-up call to the destructive power of unchecked negativity. Residents, whether they were vocal or silent, have taken a collective stance against it. As one of our local historians, Chuck Joseph, recently said, “We’re no longer looking down at a red jersey or a blue jersey. There’s just Team Hopkinton now.”

As we stand at the edge of a new electoral season, I feel a sense of optimism in the air. The call for good candidates to step forward by April 1 is not just an administrative deadline. Now, more than ever, Hopkinton needs your ideas, your effort and your leadership, particularly at the Select Board level.

Consider: In May we will have at least two open Select Board seats, if not more (depending on the success of the recall effort). The new Select Board will hire a new Town Manager, new HR Director, and appoint a new Deputy Chief of Police. This Select Board will negotiate a contract to connect Hopkinton to the MWRA, bringing PFAS-free clean water to our town. This Select Board will (hopefully) supervise the completion of the Main Street Project. This Select Board will cut the ribbon on the Elmwood School replacement, and potentially shepherd a $49 million addition to the Hopkins school. This Select Board will decide what happens to the Center School and Town Hall, potentially ushering in a new wave of commercial development downtown and reducing the residential tax burden that is squeezing us all.

The list goes on, but in short, these are BIG projects that will have a lasting and transformative impact on all Hopkinton residents for decades to come. Who do you trust with your wallet, your schools and your water? Who do you trust more than yourself? 

This is indeed the year for Hopkinton to be better, to rise above past challenges, and to welcome a new era of leadership. The invitation is open to all who wish to bring their ideas, their passion, and their dedication to the forefront. As the nomination papers await, so does the opportunity to be part of something truly transformative, and your Town Clerk serves ready to assist in answering your election questions.

This is not just an election; it is a statement of intent, a commitment to a brighter future for all of Hopkinton.

Peter Thomas is the publisher and editor-in-chief of HopNews.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Peter,
    As an avid listener of HopTake and humble, occasional commenter on HopNews, I think the two elected officials you referenced must be named. This site has done an incredible service, in my opinion to the town I love and care deeply about. Ms. Hayes, who did indeed, bared the brunt of criticism should not be left alone if others were acting in a nefarious way, especially in an elected capacity. Transparency has been a pillar on which this site has stood since a lot of this has come to light. You mentioned not opening an old wound. I say lets just get it all out there and not be left with wondering or gossiping about who it could be and go into this next cycle with as much information that is available to make informed, clear choices on our own. I share in your sense of optimism in the air and look forward to an upward trajectory in Htown.
    -paddy

  2. I’ll place all my bets that at least one of the other bad actors is someone on the school committee. I do agree that it’s probably not worth exposing who it is, but yes, we need opposing opinions in order for government to work both efficiently and effectively. If there is a single committee in town that does not foster opposing views and opinions, it is the school committee. I’m hopeful that we’re going to have a fresh new wave of voters this spring. Will change happen overnight? Probably not. But maybe begin with being less petty?

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