Grafton Candidate Statement – Select Board – Raymond Mead (Incumbent)

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Grafton Candidate Statement – Select Board – Raymond Mead (Incumbent)
Raymond Mead

Why are you running?

I am running for Select Board because I need to finish what I’ve started – to continue as the Select Board representative to the Economic Development Committee; to follow through with negotiations with TUFTS for payment in lieu of taxes; and to continue to work to find a mix of creative solutions and common sense to keep costs down.

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

1. Increasing the revenue. We need to rely less on the citizens of Grafton and more on economic development to pay the bills. We can no longer hand out tax incentives, as was done with UPS 6 years ago, with no thought of our own financial future.
2. Talk of an override. Though this has not come before the Select Board yet, the undercurrent is there, and we need to be prepared. We need to make sure that the municipal side and the school side are properly funded.
3. Grafton is not a small town anymore. We need to continue to hire talented employees who understand the value they bring to our Town.

It’s becoming more likely that an operational override will be on the ballot in 2025. Would you support an override? Why or Why not? 

Answering the question of whether anyone would support an override in May of 2025 is premature. The School Department recently projected an 8.1% increase in their 2026 budget, but it has not been discussed by the Select Board. The budgeting process for 2026 starts in November. By then the School Department will better know their needs and we will have a better handle on revenue from new building construction. I have always been in favor of funding the budget. I will decide once we all understand the facts – how much, how long, and what for.

What steps should the Select Board take to keep spending under control?

Because the Select Board is not in charge of day-to-day activities, controlling spending has much to do with the relationship between the Select Board and the Town Administrator. The Select Board hired Evan Brassard as Town Administrator 3 years ago. He turned things around by bringing in an Assistant Town Administrator, a Finance Director and a budget program called Clear-Gov. This program makes the Town’s budget available to anyone anytime from the Town’s website when they want to see what has been budgeted and what has been spent. Board members use this tool on a regular basis – the scary surprises of the past are gone.

What is your vision for North Grafton? South Grafton?

I don’t like this question much because it perpetuates the idea that we are a divided town. In my vision, the North and South ends of town will garner the same attention from boards and committees as the Center.

The North end is experiencing a building boom with 1,500,000 sq. ft. of new building construction starting this year. This will bring revenue and jobs. I want to see the plan to upgrade North Main St. come to light. New sidewalks and lighting will make North Main St a walkable place. Who knows, maybe someday my wish for Whitney Park (a few steps from North Main Street) will come true!

In the South end, the Economic Development Committee will continue work to get development on the Main Street parcel where Fisherville Mill stood, and the old JJ O’Donnell’s mill building on Depot Street. Developers looked at them, but no takers yet. The Main Street reconstruction project is complete, so grants will be worked on to continue with new sidewalks on other roads.

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

I have been on the Select Board for 10 years – from 1989-1996 and 2021 to the present. Besides that, I have served the Town in many other capacities over the last 53 years. This includes 21 years as Town Moderator, 32 years with the Grafton Fire department, and numerous committee appointments. I am currently Chairman of the Economic Development Committee, Chairman of the Tax Incentive Finance Committee, and Chairman of the Ambulance committee for 38 years.

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