Over the last six years my involvement in town government as a member of the Planning Board and as a Selectman yielded many successes, some losses, and a few bruises.
This blog was originally created as a way support that involvement and to provide a way to contribute to the conversation about local affairs in Wrentham without the interference of the gatekeepers employed by the local newspapers. It served its purpose well.
The time has come, however, to move on. Though I will likely continue to write about local affairs, most of my writing time will be spent on long form fiction and non-fiction projects.
The Planning Board has risen like a phoenix after suffering a vituperous propaganda onslaught in 2005 when it attempted to modernize Wrentham’s zoning.
The members of that board strove to realize the vision set forth in the Town Plan which itself was the result of $100,000 visioning process . A record number of people participated. The final product laid out a plan that struck the proper balance between maintaining our country charm, managing growth, and providing for long term financial stability.
The zoning controversy led to mistrust by the community and strife among members. One by one, we overcame the challenges. Over time the members learned to work as a team. The community learned to respect our work.
Board of Selectmen
The Board of Selectmen has undergone nothing short of a complete revolution. All of the Selectmen on the board in the first year of my term have been replaced by people, who in my opinion, are more family friendly, more connected to mainstream Wrentham and more compassionate in their dealings with staff and the community. Moreover, they seem to have a clearer understanding of the relationship between long term financial sustainability and commercial development.
What is more, during my three year term on the BoS I helped lay a solid foundation for a highly professional staff and a more stable government. Over my three year term, we hired a new Police Chief, Fire Chief, Finance Director, and Public Works Director and Town Administrator whose expertise and equanimous management style put the icing on the “Vote for Change” cake promised by my campaign signs. He fosters a more collaborative environment at Town Hall.
Summing it Up
A recent article about my departure from the Planning Board suggested that my motives were genuine but my tenure as a public servant had mixed results. I suppose that’s true to an extent. It is fair to say I didn’t win every battle neither did I convince the status quo hardliners to like me. So what. I was not then and never will be a politician. I never cared about getting reelected or making friends. Besides, who wins every battle?
I got talked into joining the Planning Board by a person whom I’d met at the soccer fields. He politely listened to me kvetching about how the town was run. And finally, he suggested I be part of the solution instead of a complainer.
That patient listener was the chair of the Planning Board. It seemed there was a vacancy owing to a resignation. That led to a great adventure.
As with all true adventures, the journey had its moments of light and dark. It was challenging and the outcome uncertain. Looking in the rear view mirror, the classic Aristotelian story model fits the narrative about my public service perfectly. I can see it all: the explication/ introduction, the rising action, a climax, the falling action, and finally a dénouement.
What did I learn? For one thing, how to develop a thicker skin. For another, let’s just say public service is rewarding but it’s not as easy at it looks.
Bahn Voy-ah-gee, Doc
The time has come for me to devote my energies to professional endeavors, my family, and personal interests. Thank you to people of Wrentham for the opportunity to serve the community. And thank you to my colleagues, both past and present, for your sincere effort, hard work, and friendship.