Hudson – Three candidates are in contention for the two three-year term seats on the Hudson Board of Selectmen. Voters will make their choices in the Monday, May 14 Annual Town Election.
Here, in their own words, are the candidates” bios and thoughts on four issues:
Michael Bloomer – The youngest of seven children, Mike grew up in a blue-collar family learning the value of hard work. He proudly served the U.S. Army in Bosnia, taking part in Operation Joint Endeavor. Upon his return to the States, he learned a trade and ultimately opened his own business. Mike has since returned to school and is currently a Massachusetts licensed engineer. He and his wife Christine, a Lawrence Public School teacher, anxiously await their first child later this summer. Mike is looking forward to raising his family in a safe and prosperous Hudson community.
Joseph Durant (Incumbent) – Joe has been a selectman in Hudson for 30 years. He graduated with honors from Boston College majoring in History and Political Science and from Suffolk University School of Law. He has been a member of the Massachusetts Bar for 32 years. In addition to being a Selectman, Atty. Durant has served the town of Hudson for two terms on the Planning Board, as Chairman of the Farley School Building Committee, and on the JFK Building Committee. He has coached baseball, basketball, deck hockey, soccer and softball. He is married to his wife MaryAnn and they have 2 children, Emily 18, and Joey 15.
James Dalton Vereault (Incumbent) – Since moving to Hudson, I have been involved with elective Town Offices. I have been elected to the Planning Board and Board of Selectman and was the Planning Board's representative that served on the inaugural Community Preservation Committee in 2007. I currently serve as the chairman of the Board of Selectman.
I am married to Charlene Cook, principal of the Mulready Elementary School in Hudson.
I am now and have worked in the Radio Broadcasting and Advertising industries for nearly three decades in a variety of management capacities for privately held and publically traded broadcasting companies.
What specific career or personal experience in your past do you feel prepares you for this position and why?
Bloomer – As a resident and small business owner, Mike understands the challenges facing the people of Hudson. As a combat-tested veteran Mike has demonstrated sacrifice and commitment to his country. Now, as a husband and expectant father, Mike is bringing that level of commitment to making Hudson a prominent town in which to reside and raise a family. In his own words, “We can build our community through fiscal responsibility and a cooperative business environment.”
Durant – I have been a selectman in Hudson for 30 years and I believe this is the best preparation possible for the job. I am an attorney and my education and legal background have prepared me for the position. I have learned to argue persuasively for things I believe in and also how to compromise and find a common ground for agreement where possible. I believe my experience is invaluable of our current board where no other member has more than one term.
Vereault – Board of Selectmen is the executive level of managing the town's current and future paths. I know how to harmonize competing interests for the town's resources and then move in the town's best interest in coordination with the other board members, through the executive assistant and with the department heads. In short, I am well versed in the matters that come before the board, I am fair and flexible and “Hudson first” is in my motto.
What level of involvement do you think residents should play in local politics?
Bloomer – There is place in politics for both local involvement and professional management. Ultimately the residents are responsible for the direction the town takes. Elected officials, especially the Selectmen, must be answerable to their neighbors for decisions made. At the same time, it is important to bring in the most qualified and professional managers available to assure successful implementation of the direction we set. At the end of the day I need to be able to step out my front door and be accountable to the people of Hudson.
Durant – I think the level of involvement depends on the individual. I believe that citizens are the government and that each person should be as active in government as they can. All of us lead busy lives and it is difficult to find time to take away from work and family to become active and involved in community affairs especially politics. My entire family served on either the school committee or the Board of Selectmen in Hudson and in other communities and I have been on an elected board in town for almost 35 years. I urge citizens to get involved and to be as knowledgeable as possible about local politics.
Vereault – Great question. Over the years doing this, occasionally, I'sl hear the whispered remarks such as: “part-timers,” “inefficient” and other unflattering remarks made about citizens holding important positions in local government. At the local level, the smallest unit of government, citizens must be must willing to do “their job” of managing and keeping the town accountable to the local taxpayer interests. The absence of citizen involvement is equal to the amount of day to day status quo or worse the degeneration of local services that a town's citizenry will tolerate.
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?
Bloomer – I view the Selectman's role as understand-prioritize-allocate. With the current state of the economy, this process allows the committee to simultaneously consider competing priorities and apportion scarce resources as needed. By working with the various committees and entities in town we have the opportunity to assure we wisely spend your money in the areas that make the most sense and do the most good. Certainly the school budget is important in this discussion and deserves careful consideration.
Durant – The school budget in Hudson is well over fifty percent of the town budget and that is unlikely to ever change. An even split of the revenue we receive would be totally inadequate to fund the schools. The best idea that I have is to have both sides of town government, the schools and the town, work together to prioritize needs and divide the revenue in the most appropriate way possible. As important as education is, basic town services such as public safety and public works cannot be neglected and must be adequately funded. There is never enough money to go around so having a sound cooperative plan is the best way to assure that the most pressing needs of the community are met.
Vereault – National media have had extensive coverage on the college graduate gap between the United States and other countries and its effects our world marketplace competitiveness. Let's not wait until it's too late to pay for the education our children need now and in the future. If we need to do other important town projects- then we should find ways the town agrees to fund them. I's cut and dry on this; I won's scrimp on the future of America by blaming the cost of local education.
What US political figure, local or national, past or present do you admire the most and why?
Bloomer – In my lifetime, I most admire Ronald Reagan. As a former US soldier, I am grateful to the respect he brought back to our country and specifically to the military. He inherited a country in turmoil and never shied away from responsibility. He reduced inflation, increased employment and cut taxes. He was an eternal optimist and oversaw the end of the Cold War. His policies encouraged entrepreneurship which helped the US regain its position as the world leader. Reagan accomplished this while maintaining broad appeal to both Republicans and “Reagan Democrats” all of whom realized his impact and success.
Durant – The easy and obvious answer would be John F. Kennedy but I will say Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt have always been my favorite 20th century U.S. presidents. They both served the country in an extremely difficult period of history when the world was at war and desperate decisions were required. President Truman said “The buck stops here” and took responsibility for the big decisions that needed to be made and I would like to think I have a similar attitude. I also have always admired Paul Cellucci for his rise from local selectman to governor of Massachusetts and ambassador to Canada but even more so now for the courageous way he has stepped up as a leader in the fight to find a cure for ALS.
Vereault – There are so many but I choose Paul Tsongas. His life story and his rise in American politics to the highest level reflect the American dream and few people have worked so hard to bring the American dream to others. His ideas still resonate in today. His book “A Call to Economic Arms” is a blueprint of ideas that I believe would put America in a better place both economically and socially. He was full of commonsense and he's from our backyard. He espoused “American Greatness” and his ideas and leadership made a difference in the lives of so many Americans.