Editor's Note: The following profile is part of a series highlighting the candidates running for seats in contested races as part of this year's town election, which takes place on Saturday, April 12. Dedham Patch is looking to showcase why the candidates are running and what they hope to bring to the table. Check back leading up to the election for more profiles on the candidates. If you’re a candidate and would like to have a profile included, please email email@example.com for more information.
Cheryl Schoenfeld is running for Board of Selectmen this April against Thomas Boneck, Mary Gilbert, Kenneth Gilchrist, Dennis Guilfoyle, Brendan Keough, Dan O'Neil and Dennis Teehan Dedham Patch recently spoke with her regarding her campaign. For more information on Schoenfeld, visit www.cherylfordedham.com.
What seat are your running for?
I am running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen. I have a BA from Boston College. My husband Richard and I are 30+ years Dedham homeowners and have a daughter Meg. For the past 18 years I have been the Executive Director of a $55+ million dollar property/asset management firm where I have direct oversight of all financial operations of the firm, supervise new building construction and existing building remodeling. I write policy, negotiate all leasing and vendor contracts, supervise human resources and insure that our company is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations.
Why are you running and what do you hope to accomplish on the board?
My personal and professional background and active community involvement make me the most qualified candidate candidate running for the Board of Selectmen.
I am passionate about the health of our community and for the past 25 years I have immersed myself in our Town whether it was building and raising funds for a new playground when our daughter was a student at Greenlodge, coaching softball and cheerleading, being the Brownie/Girl Scout Leader, volunteering as a Dedham Clipper Swim Team parent, helping a veteran navigate his way through the seemingly endless red tape, working with the DARE Program, Dancing my way to raising funds for DEP, advocating for a Senior Center or supporting local businesses in our many great neighborhoods. I am a founding member and past president of Dedham Civic Pride. My passion to keep our children safe from drugs was clear in my work with the DARE program which resulted in me receiving the Dedham Police Department Citizen of the Year.
I have a knack for bringing people together. I ran the only town-wide one day cleanup in Dedham. Every group in town as well as many of the businesses was involved. I was able to get everything donated including the food, the prizes and the music. The DPW trucks picked up the hundreds of bags of trash. The day culminated in a huge party at Memorial Park with music, food and prizes. The police and fire departments brought their cars and a fire truck. People of all ages participated in this successful community event.
I am a proven leader in Dedham and have been a town meeting member for 20 years, the last 10 as elected Chairman of Precinct 7 and the last 8 as the elected Chairman of the Precinct Chairs. In this position I led Warrant Review Meetings (a/k/a "Mini Town Meeting") where elected and town officials, board and committee members and department heads answer questions about the Town Meeting Warrant Articles. The meeting is open to all Dedham citizens. As the precinct chairman I am called upon frequently by neighbors for their help resolving town issues and by the town to serve on boards such as the Public Service Recognition Committee and the DPW/Park & Recreation Study Committee. I also serve as elected chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.
My passion for anything which will benefit of our community led me to author the proponent statement which allowed the town to purchase land from the SMA Fathers the Dolan Recreation Center is now located. At this site there are playing fields, green space on the banks of the Charles River, a dog park and a town canoe launch.
I will bring a fresh perspective as a Selectman and will develop a plan to help local businesses in all areas of Dedham be successful. I can make tough decisions and I do not succumb to the pressures from special interest groups. I will work to keep a tight rein on spending and look for good value when we sign contracts.
My successful experience in Department of Defense negotiations, banking and real estate have given me the skills needed to keep costs and taxes under control while carefully choosing what we invest in. As a Selectman I will continue to be strong supporter of our public schools. Having raised a daughter I know the importance of a great education to insure a bright future. Dedham has great neighborhoods and terrific neighborhood schools. I will make sure resources are available to support all our neighborhoods, supporting especially the various neighborhood groups.
As a selectman I will use my successful professional experience to choose a new town administrator, negotiate employee contracts fairly and work to get the municipal center built in Dedham Square. I will work hard to stem the growth of property taxes and work on a tax relief effort for seniors, veterans and the disabled.
What do you see is the most pressing issue facing Dedham right now in relation to the seat for which you're running and what do you think you could do to help resolve this?
One of the most pressing issues facing Dedham right now in relation to being a Selectman is choosing the right Town Administrator, one who is proficient in all municipal financial matters, can relate to town employees, has the skills to interact positively with the public, shares the vision for One Dedham, one who will have an excellent relationship with our state legislators, one who knows how to hire the right person for the job, someone who has ideas on how to bring revenue into the town, someone who will work hard to help keep our taxes controlled and someone who is not afraid to roll up his/her sleeves.
Another issue just as important is developing a municipal campus. As a Selectman I will support purchasing and renovating the Ames Schoolhouse to become the Town Hall and Senior Center. I will support renovating the existing Town Hall into a Police Station and will support renovating the exiting Fire Station in Dedham Square. Our AAA bond rating will give the town a favorable interest rate for borrowing funds to complete the campus. Our taxes will not increase since the town has the benefit of the Robin Reyes Fund from which a 30 year note will be paid.
Public Safety is a priority. I will make sure our Police and Fire are properly equipped to insure their and our safety. I will work to make sure that we are continually upgrading Police and Fire Department resources. I believe that any resources invested in our public safety personnel will pay huge dividends for us all.
Name one unique idea you would like to bring to the table if elected in April.
One unique idea I would to bring to the table if elected is to develop a plan which will result in a central register to help local businesses attract more patrons. The register would list every locally owned Dedham business, from landscapers and trades people to restaurants and salons. The register would be by category and on the Town Website. It would be continually updated but it would be the responsibility of the local business to submit the information to the town webmaster. Perhaps a resident needs a pet sitter or to have a tree removed. The person would go to the website and search for the service needed. We would be promoting small local businesses.
I am approachable and accountable. I listen and I am honest. I am a leader and a committed to working together to protect, preserve and care for Dedham. This means we use our resources wisely . . . repair, renovate, restore if possible. If not, then build wisely. I will work hard to promote physical and mental health in our community. I will encourage and be part of our local government which operates in an open and accountable manner. I will work to make sure our library, schools and recreation department continue on their successful paths.
What is one thing voters might not know about you?
I am a former New England Patriots Cheerleader and a founding member and on the Board of Directors of New England Professional Cheerleaders Alumni Association (nepcaa.org). Our group holds clinics, participates in charitable events, are regular visitors to the Brockton VA Hospital and focus on the health and well being of young people. We were honored by the NE Patriots Hall of Fame with our own exhibit. I am also a member of the NFL Players' Alumni Association NE. We take part in charity golf tournaments and other charitable events in the area.
I am also the first and only elected female to the Boston College Pike's Peak Hockey Club Board of Directors. We, as a group, raise money for an endowed scholarship and for equipment to benefit the Boston College Hockey Team.
As a Selectman I want you to know that will truly represent all of the citizens of Dedham. I want to include all of you in the process. I believe that transparency is the key to open and honest government.
Dedham has made great progress over the past 15 years. Please join me to keep Dedham moving forward.
I most respectfully ask for one of your two votes for Selectman on Saturday April 12, 2014.