Two Shrewsbury selectmen to be on April 30 ballot
Shrewsbury – Two candidates, both incumbents, will be on the ballot for two seats on the Board of Selectmen in the Tuesday, April 30 Annual Town Election. Here, in their own words, are the candidates’ bios and thoughts on four issues:
John Lebeaux attended Shrewsbury schools from grades one through twelve and graduated from Trinity College. He and his wife Debbie are the very proud parents of three Shrewsbury High graduates.
After managing his family’s business, Shrewsbury Nurseries, for twenty-six years, he sought a new career path and became Princeton Town Administrator in 2009.
A five-term selectman, John has served twenty-nine years as a Town Meeting Member, first elected at age eighteen. A former Sherwood Middle School Building Committee member, he serves on the Targeted Zoning Committee and co-chairs the town’s Home Heating Working Group. His website is johnlebeaux.com.
Moira Miller was elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2007 and served two years as chair. She has more than 30 years of business management experience, the past 18 years as a Senior Consultant with Executive
Alliance, Marlborough, MA. Miller is a Town Meeting Member and served on the town’s Fiscal Study Committee and Commission on Disabilities. She has held leadership positions in school, church and civic groups and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by The Rotary Club of Shrewsbury in recognition of her community service. She is married to Dick Miller, a manager with EMC and their daughter Mary attends Boston University.
What specific career or personal experience in your past do you feel prepares you for this position and why?
Lebeaux – One essential thing a successful small business operator needs to do is to have a track record of positive leadership and good decision making for his/her organization. I did that for twenty-seven years. Though there are great differences between the public and private sectors, my record as a selectman demonstrates that I have effectively established an excellent track record of positive leadership and good decision making for the residents of Shrewsbury.
Miller – My two terms on the Board of Selectmen, including two years as chair, have provided me with valuable skills, knowledge and insights about municipal government, budgets and the people and businesses in Shrewsbury. The foreseeable future will continue to be challenging given the uncertainty in state revenue and continuing financial pressures on the town budget. I’ll use the experience gained as a Selectman, along with my business management and community service experience, to do my best to make decisions in the best short and long term interest of the residents of our community.
What level of involvement do you think residents should play in local politics?
Lebeaux – I believe the best local government is one that involves large numbers of residents. Having an elected executive board and a legislature composed of 240 elected Town Meeting Members, along with many others residents serving in other elected and appointed roles provides Shrewsbury with a government that is very representative of the population as a whole.
Miller – I believe that citizen involvement is important for successful local government. I created the Shrewsbury Citizen’s Guide to the Budget to inform citizens about the budget process, solicit ideas, and improve public participation. There are many ways for residents to participate in town government – contact your elected or appointed officials to express opinions and share ideas, watch or attend meetings to gain information and provide support, attend public hearings and Town Meetings, volunteer for a committee, or run for Town Meeting or other elected office.
In many towns, the school budget is 50 percent or more of the overall budget. What ideas do you have that will help ensure equity, so that the needs of the schools as well as the town will be met?
Lebeaux – The most conservative budget recommendation currently under discussion for Fiscal Year 2014 allocates over 50 percent of the total municipal budget to the School Department’s program. Additional costs (building cleaning and maintenance, health care, Medicare, retirement, school buildings’ debt service) further increase the budgetary element devoted to educational expense. We continually address the unsatisfactory budget decisions the town needs to make while accounting for annually increasing externally created costs. We must continually call attention to this unsustainable environment containing uncontrollable health care increases and federal and state government spending requirements that are disconnected to how these requirements fit the revenue stream.
Miller – My objective has always been to take a balanced, reasoned approach regarding town services, working to protect priorities of public safety, education and infrastructure while not devastating the Senior Center, library and other services that are important to the quality of life in our community.
One of the leading cost drivers of school and municipal budgets is the amount of local spending mandated by state and federal legislatures. I’ll continue to advocate for relief from underfunded mandates that create significant administrative burdens and restrict the flexibility of town and school officials to spend resources based on local need and priorities.
What US political figure, local or national, past or present, do you admire the most and why?
Lebeaux – I greatly admire many political figures. My dad, Reuben, taught me by example through his selectman and Finance Committee service. Nationally, George Washington, John Adams (whose first elected positions were in Massachusetts local government), Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman all were great leaders. I admire Abraham Lincoln the most. President Lincoln arrived at the exact moment in history when the country absolutely needed a leader with his character, intelligence and political skills to keep the fracturing country together. His compassion and innate decency guided him through a series of tremendously difficult but necessary decisions that saved the nation.
Miller – I love American history and appreciate many political figures but the person I admire most is Abigail Adams. She was a wife, mother, businesswoman (managing the family home and farm) and stateswoman, whose political insights undoubtedly influenced political leaders of her day including her husband John Adams. Abigail was outspoken on controversial issues such as women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. I think she understood the importance of balancing emotion with reason to bring about change. She was a remarkable woman in any age but especially so given the realities of the times in which she lived.
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