Southborough Select Board candidate statement

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Southborough Select Board candidate statement
Andrew Dennington

SOUTHBOROUGH – The Community Advocate reached out to candidates in the contested race for Select Board for the May 14 election.

Incumbent Andrew Dennington is running against Joseph Palmer. Palmer did not return a questionnaire.

Dennington’s responses can be found below.

Why are you running?

I am the current Chair of the Select Board and am running for re-election because Southborough could benefit from continuity in leadership as we head into 2024-25. This is a key year when we will decide the Neary School building project (probably our largest building project ever) and address some important public safety staffing issues. I know these issues from having served three years on the Select Board.

It takes more than three years to be a truly effective Select Board member, and you need to develop good working relationships with key department heads. I was involved in appointing our current Police Chief, Fire Chief, and DPW Superintendent, and want to continue developing my relationships with them.

Some turnover on the Select Board is healthy, but this has become a challenge in recent years. Each year since 2018, at least one member decided not to run for re-election. I’m running for re-election to bring some stability to the Board, and keep building on the progress we’ve already made.

What are the three biggest issues facing the Select Board in order of importance?

1- Schools. We will soon reach a decision about the Neary School building project, which will have significant educational and financial impact on Southborough. As a town government official, a taxpayer, and the parent of school-age children, I will work with the School Committee to support the best possible outcome for this process.

2 – Public Safety. We have made significant progress with our public safety departments—with a new Police Chief, a new Fire Chief and additional staffing. We need to continue to address public safety staff recruitment and retention. We also need to continue to evaluate the potential for joining a regional public safety dispatch organization.

3 – Affordable Housing. The average price of a home in Southborough has now reached $900,000. This is putting home ownership out of reach for younger families and for seniors who want to downsize. We need a “consider all options” approach to increasing the diversity and affordability of our housing stock.

What is your vision for Southborough?

A more vibrant Route 9 and downtown to help reduce the tax burden on residents and give us more community gathering spaces, while also preserving key open space and the rural feel elsewhere in the Town.

A modernized Neary School, possibly making room elsewhere in the Town for a new community center for all ages.

A more diverse housing stock that can accommodate residents of different income levels.

Healthy debate at public meetings, without unnecessary rancor.

A tricentennial celebration in 2027 that promotes renewed interest in our Town’s history and leaves some permanent improvements in our Town center.

What is your relevant experience to serve on the Select Board?

I have served ten years on Southborough boards and committees:
• Select Board (2021-present), Chair (2023-present)
• Advisory (Finance) Committee (2019-2021)
• Zoning Board of Appeals (2014-2019), Chair (2016-2018)
• Southborough Housing Opportunity Partnership Committee (2022-2023)
• St. Mark’s Street Park Working Group, Vice Chair (2021-2023)
• Tricentennial Committee (2023-present)

This experience has given me detailed knowledge of how our town government works … and sometimes doesn’t work.

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