Why running for The Board Of Selectman is so important to me

Credit: Patch file photo.
Credit: Patch file photo.
   I was sitting at home tonight and I thought about why I wanted to run for selectman and it made me think about my great grandmother, Grace Cassavant. She taught me a lot about history as a boy and my family history and a lot of who I am is because of her. She was our families historian. I learned a lot about my families history from her and I spent a lot of time with her growing up. She passed away in 1994 at the ripe old age of 99. She was a few months shy of 100. At the time of her passing my parents had separated and we had never connected again before she passed and I really regretted that. 
   I've accomplished a lot of things and seen some places and I probably had more opportunities than I ever imagined I would have. That being said this is the 20th anniversary of her passing so I decided I wanted to run in honor of her memory. The Town of Dedham is part of my heritage and part of who I am. I have a connection to this town a lot of others don't have. I care about this town much like I care about the hospital I work at. The Lemuel Shattuck Hospital is also named for an ancestor of mine. Grace's great grandfather. Her maiden name was Shattuck. 
   I want the chance to make my own history here in town and help to make our town better. In an 8 year span we built two new schools, we fixed up the football field, Legacy Place came in along with a lot of new infrastructure on route one and we also completed the square project. We've made a lot of progress and progress is good. Even small towns like ours naturally need progress. The problem as I see it is even with all the funding and more revenue our citizens are still paying a lot of property tax. I want to spearhead solution to this problem. In some ways I think some of the newer residents that have moved here want Dedham to be something it simply isn't like a Wellesley or a Needham or another affluent town. We do have wealthy folks living here and we also have many people who are well off, but the crux of our community are blue collar people. That's what we are and that's what Dedham is. On the same token we have older residents who don't want to change Dedham at all. I think he best median is progress and change that makes sense and helps us to be the best Dedham we can be instead of trying to be something we aren't. I personally love the small town feel and charm of this lovely town.
   I walked around my precinct to get the necessary signatures to get on the ballot officially. My neighbors echoed the same things the high property taxes and the need for a senior center. One day we'll all be seniors and when I'm there in another 20-25 years I'd like to be able to say I can go to the Dedham Senior Center. We can learn so much from our seniors. They deserve a senior center and it would be an honor and a privilege to be a member of the board that makes that a reality.
   It was brought to my attention that William Keegan has been selected to be the new Town Manager in Foxboro. Over the years I've admittedly been critical of Mr. Keegan. Overall I think he did a good job. The problem I had with him is he was not a Dedham resident and he did not understand the taxpayers that live here nor did he share our perspective. The charter was initially written so that the town administrator would live in Dedham. It was written that way so that the administrator would be a fellow stake holder in the town. This hire also sent the message that we didn't have one qualified candidate within our town limits which I completely disagree with. We have a wealth of intelligent, creative people living here. If elected I will make it my mission to ensure we either hire or promote a Dedham resident.
   I feel there is so much more we could be doing for our town and our fellow residents and neighbors. I did student government day back in 1990, the year I graduated and I chose the Board of Selectman and I remember sitting in one of those seats and thinking someday wouldn't this be cool. Well the time is now for me to try. I love this town. I have deep roots and a true stake in our town. Together we can be the best Dedham we can be. I would really appreciate one of your two votes on April 12th. Thank you so very much.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rob Allen February 05, 2014 at 01:05 PM
I want to commend you. I'm a new part of the Dedham community. I bought a home in Dedham because I liked the area. I purchased at a modest price. But my taxes have shot thru roof! That is before my renovations. Now I'm fretting what the taxes will be after the town "assess" my property after the renovations. If I knew my taxes would have skyrocketed, I might have bought elsewhere or not done my renovations. Home improvements not only benefit the residents of that home, but the surrounding homes as they beautify the neighborhood, thereby increasing the value of the homes. If taxes continue to rise or be as outlandish as they have, then people are not going to renovate (put money into their homes) which will result in unappealing homes/neighborhoods. I would like to see the property tax rate reduced, or a residential exemption enacted. Alot of towns, such as Boston. There is no reason why Dedham cannot enact a residential exemption.
Dan O'Neil February 05, 2014 at 02:10 PM
Hi Rob first an foremost welcome to town. My brother is a boston resident and he suggested that to me also. I have a few ideas to try to help residents and will be unveiling the plan very soon. I will soon be doing renovations also so I can relate to your situation. Thank you for your suggestions.
Pat February 06, 2014 at 08:38 PM
First, I want to commend you for making the decision to run for Selectman. It's apparent that you have a great love of Dedham and want to be part of making it an even greater community. What I take issue with is your insistence that the town manager be a Dedham resident. I want the best qualified candidate to run our town and expanding the pool of applicants to outside of Dedham is the best way to do so. That's not to say there aren't many smart, creative, qualified people living in town that couldn't serve as TM. If it happens that someone living in Dedham is the best qualified person to run this town, then so be it. But to require that the TM live in Dedham, in my opinion, is unnecessary. Quite honestly, I don't know why a TM would want to live in the same town they manage. Trying to have any separation between his or her personal life and work would be very difficult. I am also curious about your reference to "older residents who don't want to change Dedham at all". Why is that? Do they see change as threatening?
Dan O'Neil February 06, 2014 at 08:59 PM
Hi Pat in some ways older folks simply don't like change even though some change is good. I'm not speaking for every older resident but there are a few that didn't like the amount of progress we had. Personally every town needs progress. I think if it's done within reason and we don't over spend and don't try to be something we aren't then a healthy median can benefit everybody. As far as the town manager. Mr Keegan did a good job and I was critical of done things he did but for the most part the man did do well and earned the position. My issue with him is he didn't have a stake in our town and simply didn't share the perspective of the tax payers. He is basing a budget in our money and personally for what we pay we don't get a heck if a lot in return. There is still no senior center and the police and fire stations have outlived there usefulness. I also don't feel our students with learning disabilities get all their needs met yet we have all this spending in other places going on. We need to spend within reason and if we can get a qualified Dedham resident he or she is paying the same property tax and us in the same situation. That's why I think it's important.
Pat February 07, 2014 at 11:26 AM
I would argue that it is a good thing that the TM does not have a personal stake in the town so that he/she can be as impartial as possible. While the TM is the one that helps to draft the budget, it's the Finance Committee that has the most involvement in the budget process and it's Town Meeting that ultimately decides whether the budget is passed. The FinCom spents countless hours poring through the budget, asking tough questions. That's their charge and I think they do a great job at representing the taxpayers' interests. If residents are concerned with increased spending, they should be part of the process. Go to FinCom meetings and make your voice heard. Additionally, it's the School Committee/School Department that also has a big impact on our town's budget since the school budget is the largest portion of Dedham's annual budget. If residents have concerns about how funding is spent to run our schools then speak up. We elect Town Meeting Members to represent our interests and concerns. Residents should take an active role in ensuring that we are electing Town Meeting reps who do just that.
Dan O'Neil February 07, 2014 at 12:21 PM
Pat this is exactly why I'm running. Not enough people do voice there concerns yet do have issues with the taxes. When I have spoken to people around town taxes are a hot button topic. Schools as well. I want to know peoples concerns and be able to guide them to the right direction to be heard. I wrote letters for years and never got actively involved until a few years ago and shame on me that's my own fault. I want to remedy that by being involved. As far as the TM we will just agree to disagree. While your points are valid I still feel the budget proposed effects the whole town. While we have a good number of folks who do make great money and we also have a lot of two income families we also have a great number of single parent families that are raising families on that one salary. A TM that is disconnected from the people he serves won't understand that thus he doesn't have the perspective of all the voters and thus it's difficult for him to gage these things for everyone. I personally think that we have a good group at town meeting but even on some of those instances people from precinct one are not going to understand what effects precinct six. Voters need to be more informed. If they don't like the direction the town is going in they need to learn more about the candidates and vote the way that they feel helps the town. If the two incumbents had run for re-election I'd still be in this. I like them personally but didn't feel there interests were in the best interest of the town as a whole . I want us to be the best Dedham we can be. That's why I'm doing this. If given the chance I know I can help. It's great to have informed people like yourself responding. We need more of that.
Chris Huntoon February 25, 2014 at 08:09 AM
It's nice to see you talk about the fact we are not Wellesley or a Needham. I grew up in Dedham and while I may have moved away for a bit, I know own my own home here in town and have found projects like The Avery Art Center and stories like 'Should East Dedham be renamed Mother Brook' very strange. I know we have area's like Westfield St, but I live on Crane St and own a business on Milton St. I'd like to see someone who worries more about the average working family here in town rather than making our image that more in line with neighboring Needham or Westwood.
Dan O'Neil February 25, 2014 at 06:15 PM
Hi Chris I am an average working guy. I do an office job but I'm not taking in a huge salary. I'm feeling it more every year with increases. I agree with everything you said in both your responses here in the patch. I'm hoping I can get elected and help out homeowners and small business folks alike.


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