Shrewsbury – Four candidates will be on the ballot for two seats on the Board of Selectmen in the Tuesday, May 7 Annual Town Election. The Community Advocate has invited the candidates – incumbent John Lebeaux and contenders Jonjy Ananth, John Samia and Stephen Trotto – to share a bit about their backgrounds and why they are running for this position. Here, in their own words, are the answers from two of the candidates, Lebeaux and Samia, who have responded thus far.
John Lebeaux – I am 64, attended Shrewsbury schools from grades one through twelve, and graduated from Trinity College, Hartford. My wife Debbie and I are very proud parents of three Shrewsbury High graduates and two grandchildren.
After managing my family’s business, Shrewsbury Nurseries, for 26 years, I changed career paths in 2009 and was appointed Princeton Town Administrator. I now serve as the commonwealth’s Commissioner of Agriculture, appointed by Governor Baker in 2015.
I am a seven-term selectman, and a Town Meeting member for 35 years, first elected at age 18.
Leadership is always issue number 1. I’ve continually demonstrated to the community that I have the judgment, experience, temperament, and insight to continue to serve as Selectman. We’ve maintained a community with excellent municipal services and an average tax bill that compares very favorably statewide.
After this election, our five-member Board will have at least two members in their first term, along with a new Town Manager. It’s vital to have new voices as we chart the Town’s future, but it’s equally vital we have proven, experienced, trusted Selectmen like me, who have worked very effectively getting us where we are.
Successful selectmen must have much more than one principal priority; they must be proactive, actively think and plan, and diminish being reactive to the best of their abilities. Among my priorities are:
- Consider Police Department facility needs
- Continue addressing water issues relative to unaccounted for water, manganese and hex chrome
- Deliver a new Beal School on time and budget and consider future of existing building and parcel
- Implement Green Community goals
- Address traffic concerns
- Expand commercial/industrial tax base with Sewer expansion on Rt. 20
- Improve Town’s bond rating prior to upcoming Beal borrowing
- Plan for new revenue from marijuana dispensaries
John Samia – I graduated from Shrewsbury High School. I have my degree in Economics from UMASS, Amherst and law degree from Boston University’s School of Law. After college, I worked for General Electric and completed its financial management program which included financial analyst positions and MBA-level classes. For over 20 years, I have been a corporate lawyer and currently am Vice President and General Counsel at American Superconductor Corporation. I served three terms on the Shrewsbury School Committee and was a member of the 2013 Fiscal Study Committee. I have served as a Precinct 7 Town Meeting Member for over 10 years.
I am running for the Board of Selectmen to make Shrewsbury an even better community for all residents to live, work and raise a family. I am concerned about several challenges currently facing our town which include budget constraints, residential growth, water issues and the need to expand the commercial tax base.
If these issues are left unresolved, the long-term vibrancy of our town could be adversely affected. My comprehensive budgeting knowledge, legal and business experience and experience on the school committee are all valuable skills that will enable me to make an immediate impact toward solving these challenges.
If elected, a major goal that I would seek to accomplish is to have the Board of Selectmen work collaboratively with the Town Manager, other elected and appointed officials and all town residents to develop a long-term plan with clear strategic goals that will determine Shrewsbury’s future. I am extremely interested in this particular goal because it will provide me the opportunity to get to know and work with all Shrewsbury residents, and to develop a cohesive and comprehensive strategic plan that reflects the community’s values and will guide our town going forward.