As voters go to the polls this Tuesday, it is important to consider the big picture in selecting who will serve on the Board of Selectmen for the next three years. As compelling as endorsements by single issue advocacy groups may be, the role of Selectman is one that must consider the needs of the whole community, young and old alike. Applying a litmus test of whether a candidate has children in the school system (one which all candidates currently fail) or committing to a given percentage of the town’s budget to a specific issue is absent of the holistic approach to the many legitimate needs that face our town and its citizens. The needs of our schools, senior citizens (the largest and fastest growing segment of our population), public safety, and public works infrastructure deserve equal consideration in the process that takes place in arriving at a fair and equitable budget each fiscal year. And that was exactly the process that occurred this year when the town was confronted with an unprecedented budget crisis and the Selectmen, Finance Committee and Town Manager proposed a solution that met the Groton/Dunstable Regional School District’s assessment. Discussions at the working group level with the school district resulted in an outcome that was supported by an overwhelming majority of townspeople, endorsed by APEX and has laid the groundwork for a collaborative process going forward that incorporates the strategic planning the School Committee has committed to. It was also recognized by Superintendent Tony Bent as one of the most positive budget deliberations, in the face of a fiscal crisis, that he had been involved in during his career in that position in numerous other school systems.
It is important for voters to consider the undisputed fact that a quality school system is important not just to parents of students, but to the grandparents of those students and the rest of us who understand the direct correlation between property values and good schools. Suggesting that just because a candidate does not have school age children means they are disinterested in the quality of our schools is simply not accurate and this year’s budget outcome is a prime example of that fact. The school system that many townspeople reference as a major consideration when deciding to move to Groton is the result of the hard work and supportive commitment made by the whole community, young and old alike. And it deserves an equal seat at the budget table along with the other legitimate budget needs of the town. This not only represents good public policy, but is my commitment if re-elected as your Selectman. Take care and please vote on Tuesday, May 20th.