Southborough – Three candidates will be on the ballot for two seats on the Board of Selectmen in the Tuesday, June 16 Annual Town Election. The Community Advocate has invited the candidates to share a bit about their backgrounds and why they are running for a position on this board. Here, in their own words, are the answers from the candidates – incumbent Lisa Braccio, Peter LaPine, and Chelsea Malinowski.
Please give a brief introductory statement on your background.
Lisa Braccio (Incumbent) – I have proudly served Southborough for over 15 years. Currently, I am a member of the Board of Selectmen, served one year as chair, Southborough Housing Opportunity Partnership Committee (SHOPC), Affordable Housing Trust Fund Committee (AHTFC), Capital Planning Committee, and the Master Plan Committee. I have been an active member of the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT)/Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) for 8 years. Prior to being elected to the Board of Selectmen, I served on the Open Space Preservation Commission for 12 years and St. Mark’s Golf Course Master Plan Committee. In addition, I have a background in Finance.
Peter LaPine – I am running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen because I am passionate about this town! I believe we must carefully balance the wishes of our townspeople with the affordability of proposed projects.
My wife Atsuko (AHTS-ko), our son Christophe and I moved to Southborough 12 years ago, shortly before Christophe started first grade. He will be graduating from Algonquin Regional High School soon and attending university this autumn. Many of you are also familiar with Hana, our 3-year-old, miniature Australian Labradoodle. We fell head-over-heels for Southborough one winter evening while attending a gathering at the home adjacent to, what would become, ours. It was serendipity when we later learned the house we now live in was about to go on the market. We contacted the owners directly and a few months later moved in.
Chelsea Malinowski – My husband, Jason, and I moved to Southborough in 2013. We now have three children under the age of 5. We chose to live in Southborough because of the school system’s reputation, the location, and the strong sense of community. Turns out, it was a great fit for us and we have had the opportunity to get involved in the community and work with a variety of different volunteers in town.
What do feel in your experience would make you the best candidate for this position?
Braccio – As a current member of the Board I understand the workings of town government, have established working relationships with town departments as well as our citizen volunteers. I understand the processes in place and how to move forward in an expedited fashion. I have a proven track record of listening to town residents and businesses to help address their needs and concerns. It would be a seamless transition.
LaPine – I have worked 30+ years in software development, in both team lead and individual contributor roles, for such companies as: Digital Equipment, Lucent Technologies, Motorola and Sun. My experience learning various software systems, creating new features and identifying and resolving internal and customer related issues, provides me with a rich problem-solving background. Prior to that I owned a business for three years, initially as a homebuilding framing subcontractor, then for seven more years as a residential frame-to-finish carpenter. With experience solving problems in both the physical and virtual environments, I am confident I can put these analytical and resolution skills to good use in the service of the town of Southborough.
Having met with almost 100 of you while gathering signatures to have my name added to the 2020 ballot, I heard your primary concern for the town.
Malinowski – I have served on the town’s Advisory Committee for the past two years and am currently the Vice Chair. I have had the pleasure of working with town departments, other boards and committees, and my fellow committee members. I did not have much town government experience prior to Advisory, but I spent the time to do my homework and work collaboratively with affiliated parties. It is important that transparency and proper processes are followed when dealing with town matters and that has been paramount in all the decisions and discussions I’ve been involved with.
What committees would you most enjoy working with if you were selected for this position and why?
Braccio – In addition to being a current member of the Board of Selectmen, I also sit on six other Committees (listed above) and continue to actively volunteer in other capacities within the town. And I have enjoyed working on those committees and would like to continue if re-elected. I have also enjoyed working with our seniors and being a volunteer on the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). We are all blessed to live in an amazing town with incredible spirit and sense of community; I will continue to work to support our community and strive to make our town better.
LaPine – As a potential member of the BOS, I feel I would most enjoy working with the Economic Development Committee (EDC). Why are businesses leaving the town year after year? A drive down Route 9 reveals many vacant office buildings on both sides of the road. Why can’t Southborough seem to attract and keep businesses in order to offset some of the real estate tax burden for the homeowners of Southborough? A single tax rate helps, however, by itself, it does not seem to be enough.
A “community of one” approach and collaboration among voters and town government would serve to make Southborough an attractive business environment and ease the residential tax burden.
Malinowski – If elected, I would look to build upon the relationship between Advisory and the Board of Selectmen to be more forward thinking as we continue to navigate unchartered waters financially. Getting through this is going to require better collaboration and out of the box thinking. One of my main goals is to make links between various boards and committees. I do look forward to listening to others ideas.
What is the primary problem do you feel the town is facing and what do you think should be done to rectify it?
Braccio – It is imperative in the next three years that we continue to work hard to address the budget constraints and be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. We must work together to find new avenues of revenue and to cut our expenditures; we have to institute tough new standards as our financial outlook approaches a critical nature.
I will continue my work to establish better lines of communication between town residents and the Board of Selectmen, as well as improving inter-committee and board communications. Important decisions must be made with input and knowledge of ALL relevant town entities and residents.
LaPine – We are witnessing an economic situation unprecedented in the lifetimes of most residents. With over 25 million Americans unemployed and businesses shuttered and on government subsidies for an indeterminate period, we must plan today for the impact this is going to have on our town in the very near future and for years to come.
Without income, how will families pay their property taxes – let alone feed themselves? The same issue impacts closed businesses. How will town services be affected by the loss of these revenue streams? We will likely see a decrease in state financial assistance. We must plan today for a very different tomorrow than one previously envisioned!
Malinowski – We are facing times of uncertainty and it is unclear how this will impact our town in the short and long-term. However, priorities/projects will continue to come up and we need to ensure that we make big picture decisions in the best interest of Southborough and its residents. We need to come up with creative, sustainable solutions, be open to change, and deal with our aging infrastructure. Too often we make decisions based on one need in town without taking into account all the other needs and the potential impact. The conversations will not be easy but are necessary. I will always do my best to listen, evaluate, weigh all options, and make what I believe is the best decision for Southborough. I will not always agree with every opinion but I will be respectful of all viewpoints and we may agree to disagree.