Westborough – There will be several contested races for Westborough voters to consider when they go to the polls Tuesday, March 2 for the town’s annual election.
Two incumbents, Syed Hashmi and Shelby Marshall, will be challenged by Sean Keogh for the two 3-year terms on the Board of Selectmen.
Here, in their own words, the candidates introduce themselves.
Syed Hashmi – You—residents of Westborough—have been at the heart of everything I have tried to do as your Selectman, such as: expanding senior tax relief, advocating for increased mobility and safety, and passionately advocating to make our town government inclusive of new ideas and voices.
Via my newsletters and social media posts, I have tried to ensure accountability and engagement. As a Selectman and a Board of Health member, I pushed for weekly meetings of both Boards during the height of the pandemic. I am also the person many of you reach out when you have been wronged, and protecting you remains my singular mission.
Sean Keogh – I moved to Westborough with my wife, Kim, in 1994. I am a chartered financial analyst, and received a BA from Hamilton College and a MBA degree from Boston College. I spent the past 25 years working for Fidelity Investments. I am the proud father of three sons who all enjoyed many opportunities in the Westborough Schools and community. Our oldest, Matthew, is an active-duty Army First Lieutenant. Michael, is a junior at UNE studying animal behavior and playing football. Tyler, is a sophomore at WHS and is very active in theater and music. Kim has worked over 30 years in the field of Special Education. My in-laws, Elaine and Francis, moved in with the family in 2015 and enjoy supporting the Westborough community.
Shelby Marshall – I grew up in York Harbor, ME. I graduated from Brown University with a degree in Political Science. My wife, Gail, and I were married in Westborough where we have lived for almost 25 years. Together we have a daughter, Graysen, who is a fourth grader at Mill Pond. Our business, Right at Home, located at 8 Church St., has been providing one-to-one care for seniors and their families since 2007. I have over 20 years of executive level management and client services experience. I have a strong track record in building collaborative relationships and producing measurable results.
What do you feel in your experience would make you the best candidate for this position?
Hashmi – I have a passion to make a difference in the lives of those we are privileged to serve. I have attempted to serve you with authenticity, innovation, accountability, courage and vision. By being a servant leader. By putting you first.
Communities are built by their residents. If you vote for me, it will not be me that will be elected, it will by YOU who will be elected. I promise to think of you, and only you. We are just getting started. We can do great things together. Join me in building a better Westborough together.
Keogh – Serving the past five years on the Advisory Finance Committee, including last year as Vice Chair and this year as Chair, has been excellent preparation for the position of selectman. Additionally, I spent two years on the Capital Expenditures Planning Committee. I gained a thorough understanding of the town and school departments and the inner workings of their budgets. Additionally, as a long- time resident I have had the opportunity to volunteer with many organizations in town, including WYSA, WLL, WYF, Rec basketball, and the Cub Scouts.
Marshall – I am just completing my first 3-year term as a Selectman. Over the past three years I have fully embraced my role as a Selectman by serving as member to several (not all inclusive) Committees/subcommittees – Diversity & Inclusion, Economic Development, COVID-19 Task Force, Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials, Town Manager Selection Committee, and PreK-3 School Building Committee. My work as a Selectman is complimented by my active community involvement as a Rotarian, as a Board member of Westborough Connects and as a member of the Westborough Women’s Club. My community involvement and experience coupled with my integrity, thoroughness and thoughtful and productive commitment to active change and issue discussion makes me an excellent choice for re-election to the Board.
What do you feel is the most urgent, pressing matter the town must address in the coming months and what do you think should be done to rectify it?
Hashmi – Recovering from the devastating impacts of COVID remain paramount. We are living with a health crisis and an economic crisis, with impacts that we have yet to understand. At the same time, our town is also changing. It is incumbent on us to ensure all the best parts that make Westborough,” Westborough” remain such as: our sense of community, our scenic beauty, and our civic pride. We need to ensure that residents’ voices and ideas shape the building of a more perfect Westborough. We need to be constantly vigilant on being sustainable, not just in our environment, but in our finances.
Keogh – I believe the most significant problem facing Westborough is the ongoing pandemic and its impact on our residents, local business and the overall community. A priority of the Board of Selectmen should be continued focus on the health and safety of Westborough residents and ensure all Town Departments have the necessary resources to combat the issues that COVID presents. Additionally, local businesses have been severely impacted, and creative solutions need to be considered to support them as they struggle to recover.
Marshall – The most pressing issue in Westborough is to see that all eligible, and willing, residents and Town staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Post vaccination, we need to quickly bring our local economy back to 100% capacity and we need to bring our children and teachers together for full-time, in-person learning. The Selectmen should continue to work on the priorities of the Strategic Plan. Doing so will continue to enhance the work-live-play experience of Westborough for all. It is critical that we maintain our existing commercial tax base, while attracting new businesses to offset future tax impacts on residents.
What do you feel Westborough can do to position itself best in a competitive marketplace, as it relates to residential and commercial real estate?
Hashmi – If we focus on the fundamental of building a better Westborough: on nourishing our residents, on enhancing our sense of community, and protecting our scenic beauty, the rest will follow. Our residents are our most precious resource. We need to create value in and for our residents. We are in real danger of losing our sense of self, thus to me, our path to success lies in empowering our residents, and thereby ensuring our residents health and success. We want to build a town that people don’t just want to live in, but one that their children want too as well.
Keogh – There is a priority to improve our position in commercial real estate. Financial programs to support overall local business, particularly in the downtown area, would increase economic and social vibrancy of the community. Additionally, changes are needed to attract new business development, especially over near I-495, to better balance the ratio of residential to commercial assessed real estate values in Westborough and reduce the tax burden for our residents.
Marshall – Completion of the Master Plan and its acceptance signals our commitment to future land and resource use and is inclusive of the community’s collective goals. We must maintain a high performing school system with creative learning and budget management solutions. It is important that Westborough continues to be viewed as a welcoming community. Connecting and engaging our residents and businesses through broad civic engagement, and through professional and welcoming town leadership committed to effective communication and transparency demonstrates this commitment. We will create opportunities and bring additive value to Westborough by our commitment to the 2030 Clean Energy Climate Plan, increasing our affordable housing inventory and enriching the Downtown Village area.
A Candidates Forum, sponsored by the Westborough Democratic Town Committee, will be held virtually on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m.
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