Wellesley firefighters’ diligence prevent house fire
In the early morning of Feb. 22 my wife and I awoke to the smell of smoke. It was not intense enough to set off the smoke detectors but the smell pervaded the house. After we failed to find the source we phoned the Wellesley Fire Department. Though it was clearly not an emergency, three trucks with four firefighters arrived within minutes.
After a 30-minute search the firefighters identified the source as a shorted wire in the control unit of our furnace. Indeed, the furnace was overheating and on the verge of igniting surrounding paper and bookshelves. With their quick response and diligence in their search firefighters Peter Indresano and Ben Hampton, Lieutenant DeMerchant and Deputy Chief Chuck Digiandominico prevented a serious fire and possibly the loss of our home.
We extend our thanks to them and to the numerous Wellesley town workers that keep residents safe and the town operating.
Phil Gormley and Erica Bisguier
Re-elect Tom Ulfelder to Board of Selectmen
I am writing in support of Tom Ulfelder, who is seeking re-election to a second term on the Board of Selectmen.
I know Tom to be an independent thinker and a person who approaches issues with not only an open mind but a sincere interest in hearing all perspectives on issues, knowing the value of the lived experiences they represent. Having worked with Tom and from my observations of him during this first term, it is clear that his judgment is not shaded by his own agenda or by personal interests but rather is based on an objective analysis of the facts and a very careful consideration of what is in the best interests of the town and its residents.
Tom’s service on the Town Government Study Committee provided him with a unique opportunity to learn in depth about the activities and responsibilities of all of the town’s boards and departments, which greatly shortened his learning curve on how things work in Wellesley. A second term will enable Tom to continue to work on issues of critical importance to the town, building not only on the knowledge he has, but also on the constructive and productive relationships he has established with Town officials and, perhaps most importantly, town residents.
At a time when the town is facing difficult decisions regarding the schools and the prioritization of capital projects, Tom’s independence and objectivity, and his deep knowledge of the town, will be critical.
I hope that you will join me in voting for Tom Ulfelder for the Board of Selectmen on March 17.
Rose Mary Donahue
Beth Sullivan Woods has my endorsement for BOS
Although I’ve known Beth Sullivan Woods for many years, I had never had any interaction with her until the summer of 2019. As liaison from the Board of Selectmen to our Council on Aging board and with the Citizens Petition that was being initiated by a small group, I feel I got to know and appreciate Beth. She was so focused to see this situation resolved, hopefully, before the start of our Special Fall Town Meeting. Beth worked tirelessly, along with others, on behalf of Wellesley seniors to be sure the reputation of our Tolles Parsons Center and staff were not tarnished. Watching the time and effort she was willing to give for us, I didn’t hesitate getting involved. And, thankfully, the petitioners withdrew from pursuing it any further.
I had mentioned things that I thought had been overlooked at the TPC and, along with our board and administration, some of my suggestions have already been implemented. One example...I personally credit Beth with listening and finally signs to enter the TPC parking lot were immediately installed.
I especially enjoy watching her interact with other BOS members at their board meetings. She gives lots of thought before voicing her agreement and/or disagreement and her reason(s) with issues on the agenda.
We need Beth Sullivan Woods to continue working, not only on behalf of seniors but also the entire town.
Without the least bit of hesitation I am, once again, voting for Beth Sullivan Woods to continue working for the entire town on March 17 and ask that you also consider doing so.
Mary Bowers, lifelong Wellesley resident, Waterstone at Wellesley, Precinct D
I support Catherine Mirick for School Committee
I am writing in support of Catherine Mirick for the School Committee.
As we engage in town wide discussion and planning for new elementary school construction, it is essential that we elect someone who has the skill set and experience needed to participate and help lead our town.
As someone who has been actively engaged at numerous levels of town government over the past 20 years, what I find most impressive about Catherine’s experience is that she has a proven track record of PTO leadership at every level, beginning with Sprague Elementary School, the middle school and the high school. Her success in these leadership roles will stand her in good stead and demonstrates an ability to work constructively with parent groups, building trust and helping to champion the needs of our school-age children.
Additionally, Catherine’s tenure as a Town Meeting member provides her with a knowledge base regarding the competing town wide financial challenges and priorities necessary to help her advocate for the educational needs for our children within the larger town government framework.
It is critical at times like these that we have leaders like Catherine who can work collaboratively and respectfully with all residents and parents to bring about continuing success for our schools, while helping us navigate through the difficult decisions that lie ahead.
I hope you will join me in voting for Catherine Mirick for School Committee on March 17.
Support Scott Bender for Board of Public Works
I am writing to share my strong support for Scott Bender’s candidacy for the Wellesley Board of Public Works. I am a physician and scientist who cares deeply about the state of our environment and its effect on human health and I know Scott will be a strong steward of our local infrastructure.
Scott is an engineer and product manager and a founding member of Sustainable Wellesley. He served for years on the Wellesley Sustainable Energy Committee and is an active Town Meeting member. Scott is fiscally responsible, embraces technology and innovation as a means to solve problems and is looking out for our environment. He is committed to strengthening our infrastructure to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate and he knows how to make Wellesley a leader in the transition to renewable energy. Scott will make Wellesley cleaner, smarter and safer for all of us.
Please join me in supporting Scott Bender for the Board of Public Works on March 17.
Dr. Regina LaRocque
Regarding Ron Alexander's public records requests
We write regarding the coverage of Ron Alexander’s treatment of the Board of Selectmen and other municipal boards and officials in Wellesley. In response to the stream of frivolous public records requests and open meeting law complaints in Wellesley and other neighboring towns, An Act Promoting Governmental Efficiency, legislation supported by the Wellesley delegation, was filed in both the House and Senate.
This legislation provides municipal officials and public bodies such as the Board of Selectmen a mechanism to address frivolous and harassing public records requests and open meeting law complaints. Under the bill’s language, if an individual files more than 12 complaints with the same public body in a calendar year, the body can petition the attorney general for relief. The bill adds necessary structure to the open meeting law to aid the public and public bodies in addressing any complaints. The bill also closes a statutory loophole that permits an individual to file unlimited requests if the information is simply published online. Transparency in government is important, which this bill supports; it is also important to ensure that our public bodies can serve all of their constituents and protect our public servants from harassment and the pursuit of personal vendettas.
We believe this legislation is a balanced, commonsense approach that will help municipalities like Wellesley cut back on administrative costs and the hundreds of hours employees have spent responding to these frivolous requests. We support access to public records. It is also our responsibility to protect against unfettered filings that unreasonably interfere with the efficient functioning of government, preventing town employees from providing the services that residents expect and deserve.
The legislation has been favorably reported out of committee and we are hopeful that it will be enacted in the coming months.
Alice H. Peisch, State Rep. 14th Norfolk District
Cynthia S. Creem, State Sen. First Middlesex and Norfolk
Rebecca L. Rausch, State Sen. Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex
Vote ‘yes’ March 17 on school referendum
After careful consideration, here is why I believe “yes” is the right vote for maintaining Wellesley’s unique neighborhoods character and is the more fiscally responsible position.
Every neighborhood and every school site is unique to its location.
A fully featured 19-section, 75,000-square-foot, two-story building is not appropriate for the Hunnewell lot, stuffed in behind the library and abutting the wetlands boundaries of the Brook Path. And where are those additional cars going to park?
Four months of blasting out ledge and cutting acres of trees is not appropriate for the Upham site to fit a 19-section school in a location that for the last few years can’t consistently support two-section classes. And I cannot support the destruction from an ecological perspective.
Hardy is the only site that provides for building behind it while in session, allowing for a swing space school. The town already invested $3 million to purchase lots for additional access from Route 9.
The PAWS preschool program is wildly successful. Let’s create a long-term plan now to support its growth in relation to the elementary school infrastructure before we spend $100 million plus without a plan.
For those who believe six schools is the answer until the school population grows to warrant it, they should vote “yes” to avoid locking us in to the oversized Hunnewell proposal.
Without addressing these concerns now, the School Committee is headed toward not gaining a majority of support for upcoming debt exclusions — which will be a shame for the kids and a waste of taxpayer dollars.
We all want better buildings so lets find a majority consensus to get us there. Vote “yes” for seven neighborhood schools on March 17.
Michael Tobin, Town Meeting member — Precinct G
Re-elect Tom Ulfelder to Board of Selectmen
I ask Wellesley voters to join me in voting for Tom Ulfelder for re-election to the Board of Selectmen.
The election on March 17 will be an important one for the town. Over the next few years, our elected officials need to make a number of expensive capital decisions that will affect our tax bills well into the future. Through his service to date, Tom Ulfelder has demonstrated he has the knowledge of and experience with the town’s finances to make the best decisions. Tom supports smart investments in our community and its future. He has worked tirelessly as vice chair of the School Building Committee to move the elementary school rebuilding projects forward.
On the Board of Selectmen, Tom has effectively helped set the town’s strategic priorities. What is even more impressive is how he works. Tom is a respected town leader because he listens carefully to opposing viewpoints and creates productive dialogue on tough issues. My own experience on the board convinced me this careful listening is the most important skill a selectman can bring to the table.
I have watched Tom participate in many Board of Selectmen and other committee meetings and am continually impressed with the fair and respectful way he asks questions and elicits information. He encourages active participation of all parties and creates the right climate for decision-making.
Tom has shown us that he cares deeply about Wellesley and the way decisions are made in this town. He has the right set of skills and experience to serve the town. Please vote to re-elect Tom Ulfelder on Tuesday, March 17.
High Meadow Circle
Duprey thanks community for support of School Committee candidacy
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the community for engaging enthusiastically since I announced my candidacy for School Committee.
It is important for elected representatives to understand the concerns and experiences of constituents. So, in addition to the usual campaign events, I decided to walk around, knock on doors and talk to people. I’ve reached out in this way to more than 2,000 Wellesley voters, in every precinct and across generations, social circles and political lines. These conversations have inspired me and informed my views on important issues.
The elementary schools project or “HHU” is front and center for many. This project brings significant change, has been going on for years and is complex. I offer a fresh perspective, open mind and enthusiasm to do the hard work to achieve a path forward that the town supports. My experience working in human resources uniquely prepares me to help people through change and build consensus.
Another topic of interest to many residents is curriculum relating to Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM). Students need the right skills for the future and we must provide the best possible programming in this space. I earned my Bachelor of Science in biology from Harvard and my public-school education prepared me well in this area — something I am grateful for. Technology can also present risks (such as too much screen time) and we must adapt to the most recent research in this area.
And finally, fiscal responsibility is critical. Schools represent the largest budget item for Wellesley. It is critical that School Committee members are experienced in managing large budgets. Through my MBA from MIT and professional career, I have training and years of experience directly managing multi-million-dollar budgets. I have made tough decisions and trade offs when it comes to spending. I will treat every tax dollar with utmost care.
I’m eager to keep the dialogue going. If I haven’t met you yet, I hope to soon.
You can reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It will be an honor to serve and I respectfully ask for your vote on March 17.
Vote to keep Beth Sullivan Woods on Board of Selectmen
I am honored to write in support of Beth Sullivan Woods’ campaign for re-election to the Board of Selectmen.
I have known Beth for nearly 15 years, and her passion for our town is surpassed only by her integrity. She has broad experience with agencies across Wellesley and has a wonderful grasp of the big picture when looking at issues confronting Wellesley.
Beth brings critical traits to the job — she is smart, calm and most importantly, she works hard to see all sides of an issue and is willing to take an unpopular stance if she believes that is the best thing for our town.
It is important to her that she represents the town as a whole, and she will work to ensure that the decisions made by the Board of Selectmen best serve Wellesley for the long term. She has a long and active history of involvement in important organizations, including as a Library Trustee, volunteering as a member of Wellesley Hills Junior Women’s Club, as a long-time Town Meeting member and in her current role as a Selectman.
Her experience makes her an outstanding choice to continue her tenure and I hope you’ll join me in voting for Beth Sullivan Woods on March 17.
Support Scott Bender for Board of Public Works
Please join me in voting for Scott Bender for the one year term seat on the Board of Public Works on March 17.
For years Scott (a Wellesley native) has served enthusiastically on Wellesley Town committees, as a Town Meeting member and as a founding member of a local nonprofit. As an engineer, product manager and someone with personal and professional integrity, Scott would undoubtedly bring a valuable perspective to the board.
I have worked with Scott in various capacities where he has added a valuable technology perspective. Scott is incredibly smart, practical and personable and I believe his skills and passion will further optimize Wellesley’s infrastructure, particularly as it relates to efforts to protect Wellesley’s valuable resources including water and energy.
Support Article 44 (Opt-Out Voluntary Renewable Energy Program)
I urge our Town Meeting members to vote in support of the motion for Article 44, the Opt-Out Voluntary Renewable Energy Program. This action will further distinguish Wellesley as a town that champions environmental sustainability, preemptively preparing us for a future that must necessarily be free of fossil fuels.
As a Wellesley High School graduate and sophomore at Cornell University studying environmental psychology and communication, I care deeply about this topic.
One thing I’ve learned about this semester is the importance of what some social psychologists call “nudges.” Nudges are strategic interventions made by decision-makers concerning how to frame and present choices to the public. These nudges don’t restrict our freedoms or play to a particular agenda; rather, they simply make it easier for citizens to make choices that are beneficial for their health and well-being.
For instance, a nudge related to smoking would be that you must ask a clerk in a store to buy cigarettes. This doesn’t mean that people can’t buy cigarettes, it just means that people who do wish to buy cigarettes must take the extra step of asking someone, which makes them slightly less likely to smoke as much or as often.
Similarly, enrolling all town electricity customers in the Voluntary Renewable Energy Program represents a nudge that is beneficial for our environment and subsequently our health. Town residents can freely opt out if they do not wish to pay for it. However, the default option of paying a minimal cost for renewable energy will enroll people who may be interested but wouldn’t otherwise have the time or faculty to enroll themselves. This additional enrollment will align with Wellesley’s various values and sustainability initiatives, placing us at the forefront of local sustainability in our district and state.