Final Say: Jessie Bennett, Board Of Selectmen

Photo: Jessie Bennett (photo from

I am inspired by you.

You have shared so much with me these last few months: your hopes for your children or your retirement; your excitement, and nervousness, about the educational opportunities brought by the new 7-12 school; your determination to address our climate goals, cost of housing, business climate, traffic congestion, and pedestrian safety; your passion for the gathering places that define our town – the library, rink, and soon, community path.

You are what I love about Belmont.

So let’s do something bold. Let’s bring us all together. Let’s bring our combined skills, experiences, points of view. And let’s work like crazy until we get things done.

That’s what I do. I’ve spent my entire professional life joining and leading teams – in banking and non-profits, marketing and communications. I’ve spent nearly a decade in Belmont organizations – from town government to school-related non-profits to citizen groups – collaborating and leading people to accomplish big goals.

At this moment in time, Belmont needs a leader. Not an analyst, not a manager – we have those on staff. We need a Selectwoman who talks to residents, studies every angle of the issues, and values the advice of town departments and committees.

We need a leader who strikes the right balance and keeps us all in mind when tough decisions are made.

This is my promise: I am here to serve you, and I will never forget that it’s not about me – it’s about us.

I hope you will join me in creating the future of our town, and I humbly ask for your vote on April 2.

Letter To The Editor: Vote Roy Epstein, For A Shared Vision

Photo: (from left) Elizabeth Dionne, Roy Epstein, Lisa Gibalerio

To the editor:

We are two Belmont women who are voting for Roy Epstein for Selectman on Tuesday because we believe in a vision for our town that is shared by both of the major candidates.

Look at the platforms of the candidates — check out their websites. Each wants successful building projects, awesome schools, diversity and transparency, safe roads and sidewalks, less traffic, environmental progress, affordable senior housing, a community path, and sustainable budgets.

We want that too! It’s a vision shared by many people in our community. (It’s funny that there is such heated debate on social media—the candidates basically agree!)

We bet you agree with these laudable goals as well.

Since we all agree on the goals, the question really becomes: what’s the best way to reach these goals? Which candidate is best equipped to help us move forward toward accomplishing these goals?

Here the answer is clear: Roy Epstein.

Roy has a decade of experience working through all the ins-and-outs of a complex town structure (regulations, by-laws, arcane procedures, etc.). He has also accomplished things that no one else even thought of: the DPW/Police Station renovation, the Flanders Road electrical substation siting, and so on. To anyone who knows the town’s recent history, Roy’s accomplishments are staggering.

We are first-hand witnesses, we have watched Roy in action. While others sit in meetings, pontificating about “the best path forward,” Roy quietly takes out a ruler and a pencil and visits the sites at issue. Where others might skip down to the summaries, Roy pores over the budgets line by line. Roy investigates, he looks deeply. He’s the Sherlock Holmes of town government: he not only solves the case, but his process is brilliant, and his conclusion is beyond what anyone was considering.

The other major candidate is certainly accomplished, and we appreciate her many contributions to Belmont, but her field, her experience, is in communications and marketing—not governance, not finance. With a $295 million school underway, many other capital projects ramping up, and a fiscal storm the likes of which we haven’t seen in years about to hit the town, we need the person with the most profound financial skills and the deepest relevant town experience sitting in the driver’s seat. That means Roy.

So, precisely because we share this vision, because we want that common vision of a thriving Belmont to come to fruition, we’re voting for Roy!

We hope you will too. Thanks!

Lisa Gibalerio, Campaign Chair; Elizabeth Dionne, Campaign Treasurer

Committee to Elect Roy Epstein

Letter To The Editor: Bennett Will Be ‘A Tremendous Asset’ To Selectmen

Photo: Jessie Bennett (photo from

To the editor:

I’m writing to express my enthusiastic support for Select Board candidate Jessie Bennett. Having worked with Jessie on many projects around town, I am continually impressed by her level of commitment and experience, her ability to build consensus, her outstanding people skills, and her financial pragmatism. She is a tremendous listener and actively seeks out opinions and perspective from others, particularly those who may not always feel heard.

She is a frequent attendee at Belmont High School Building Committee meetings, traffic meetings, Planning Board meetings, Business Study meetings, Selectmen meetings, and likely countless others that I’m not there to witness (and attended these before she decided to run for the Select Board). She is dedicated to pedestrian safety/safe streets and traffic calming, senior services, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, and is a well-known champion for our exceptional education system. I’ve seen firsthand the work that she’s put into these issues and know that she will bring that tireless energy and perspective to the Select Board table.

Jessie was instrumental in getting the high school project passed, and I’m confident that she will be a key player in the success of the project going forward. Her experience in leadership, collaboration, and financial matters will be a tremendous asset to our Select Board. I look forward to voting for her on April 2.

Remember, local elections matter – please take a few minutes to learn about each candidate across all races, and show up on Tuesday!

Emma Thurston
Baker Street
Precinct 1 Town Meeting Member

Final Say: Micheal Crowley, Belmont School Committee (One Year Seat)

Photo: Micheal Crowley, Belmont School Committee (one year) (photo credit: Belmont Media Center)

I’m running for School Committee because I believe that our kids deserve the best education that Belmont can provide. This is why I was involved in the Yes for Belmont campaign for the new 7-12 school, which will dramatically improve our school system.

We need strong oversight to make sure that this almost $300 million school is a success from the moment construction begins. It has to meet the needs of our kids and their kids, too. I want to make sure that we get our money’s worth from this project because so much depends on it.

Apart from the need for the new 7-12 school, we have an excellent school system and a supportive community. That’s a great place to be. But I also think there are plenty of other issues to stay focused on. Here are just a few:

  • Class Sizes. Increasing enrollments have put pressure on class sizes for several years. Class sizes for many of our grades are well beyond what they should be. The new school is part of the solution because it helps solve our space needs. We also need to invest in additional teachers and staff if we’re going to continue making progress.
  • School Fees. Like many area school districts, we’ve implemented fees for music programs, athletics, and transportation, and fees are here to stay. But I think it’s worth reviewing our fees and waiver criteria periodically to make sure that we’re not turning away any kids from activities because of affordability.
  • After School Care. So many Belmont families depend on after school care. Availability of after-school care has improved during the last year, but the School Committee can be part of a town-wide conversation to make sure that we have enough—and that it’s affordable.
  • Vocational Education. We still don’t have a long term plan for vocational education since Belmont voted to exit the Minuteman District in 2016. Fixing this isn’t something we can ignore.

These are some of the issues I’m thinking about. As someone who believes that all community voices deserve to be heard, I’m interested in the concerns of parents and other Belmont community members, too.

I’ve been a Town Meeting Member and a Member of the Warrant Committee since 2016. So, I’m familiar with many of the critical issues we face in our schools, including those involving budget and finance. I also have more than 20 years of budget and finance experience with the White House Office of Management and Budget. This kind of experience can be a real asset to the School Committee as it grapples with future funding issues.

I live in Belmont with my wife and 17-year old son. We really appreciate being a part of this community. As a potential School Committee Member, I’m committed to ensuring that our schools continue to meet the needs of our children.

Final Say: Roy J. Epstein, Board of Selectman [Video]

Photo: Roy Epstein (center), candidate for Board of Selectmen.

Over the next few years, Belmont will face the greatest financial challenge in its history.

A nearly $300 million school project is underway. The Police Station and DPW renovations are out to bid. A new Library and a new hockey rink are top priorities. Many roads and sidewalks are still in terrible shape. Most critically, preserving the quality of our schools and town services is at risk because the funds from the 2015 override will be depleted within two years.

The stakes are nothing less than our overall quality of life.

In a financial crisis, we need financial leadership. As former Selectman Ralph Jones put it:

“The nature of the challenges facing the town calls for strong leadership, creative problem solving, and a full grasp of the intricacies of the town’s finances. Of the candidates, only Roy Epstein has the qualities these challenges require.”

Belmont needs a Selectman with demonstrated experience and competence that can be applied immediately to solve the actual problems before us.

I am that candidate.

I have a Ph.D. in Economics from Yale, I’m an Adjunct Professor of Finance at B.C., I’ve spent the last 30 years advising law firms on complex financial issues. I’ve been a member of the Warrant Committee (the town’s financial watchdog) since 2007, and currently, serve as its Chair.  I’ve gained experience in all aspects of town government from working on many critical committees, including major building projects and Belmont Light. My work has saved tens of millions of dollars for the town. (For details, see my website,

Very soon, we will navigate a financial hurricane.  I’m the only candidate in this election who has the demonstrated skills to manage this storm successfully as a member of the Board of Selectmen.

I entered this race with a deep sense of civic duty. I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors and listened carefully to your concerns. We must remain a united and respectful community. At this critical time, I offer my knowledge, experience, and commitment to you, to help us meet the challenges ahead together.

I ask for your vote on Tuesday, April 2.

Belmont Open Sing: Handel’s ‘Utrecht Te Deum’ Sunday, March 31, 7:30

Photo: “Allegory of the Peace of 1714 (Treaty of Utrecht)” by Paolo de Matteis

Beginner and experienced singers are invited to join the Powers School of Music to the age of Queen Anne (depicted in the film, “The Favourite”) for the second Belmont Open Sings event of the season, George Frederick Handel’s “Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate,” on Sunday, March 31, 7:30 p.m., at Payson Park Church, 365 Belmont St.

Come participate in performances of the great masterworks for chorus and orchestra. Experience the thrill of singing your favorite works accompanied by a professional-level orchestra, and revel in arias sung by some of Boston’s finest soloists, led by Artistic Director Mary Beekman. First timers are welcome. Vocal scores and a choral warm-up are provided.

Tickets: $10 per person; No reservations needed. All ages welcome, and we encourage you to bring your family and friends to enjoy these masterpieces together

“Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate” is a sacred choral composition written by Handel to celebrate the Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, ending the War of the Spanish Succession. 

Final Say: Amy Checkoway, Belmont School Committee

Photo: Amy Checkoway, Belmont School Committee candidate (Credit: Campaign Facebook)

Belmont is a community that deeply values and invests in its schools. I am running for School Committee because the Belmont Public Schools will experience a lot of change in the next few years as we transition all schools to new grade configurations and build the new grade 7-12 school. I am confident that I can serve as a strong leader and bring valuable expertise and perspective as a School Committee member during this important time.

I am already deeply involved in educational issues as a parent, a volunteer, and a 20-plus year career in education policy. My two children (grades 3 and 6) are in the middle of their school careers. We feel fortunate to live in such an excellent school district and see the benefits of our substantial community investment in education first-hand every day.

Since moving to Belmont in 2012, I have spent hundreds of hours volunteering in our school buildings through PTO leadership roles and as a Board member of the Wellington Student Care program. I have frequent discussions with families, teachers, and school leaders about the issues that matter to them, and would bring to the School Committee role a broader perspective on what is going well and what can be improved.

In my professional life, I work as an education policy researcher for a large international consulting firm. I work with districts and programs across Massachusetts on a range of issues such as educator effectiveness, teacher preparation, mentoring and coaching supports, and preschool programming. I am a trusted adviser to state policy leaders about how to invest our resources to support positive child outcomes.

I am also responsible for managing complex budgets; currently, I manage almost $20 million in public resources as one of my job responsibilities. My experience managing finances along with a strong understanding of what is in district budgets and how districts and schools operate in practice will allow me to contribute immediately to important discussions that the School Committee will need to engage in.

If elected to the School Committee, I will approach all discussions and decisions with a focus on what’s best for our students in the center. We need to provide every student in our district – including those with different learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds – with an excellent education. The district should continue its focus on social-emotional development as well as additional critical skills that are necessary to succeed beyond high school, including persistence, collaboration, and critical thinking. I hope that the new grade 7-12 school will inspire more opportunities for project-based learning and that we can consider additional opportunities across all grades for students to build their technology skills.

We need to continue to focus on reducing class sizes and investing in critical support staff such as guidance counselors, social workers, and academic support specialists. Our educators deserve ongoing high-quality professional development and collaboration opportunities so that they can continue to grow their skills and innovate in the classroom. We need to improve the diversity of our district workforce so that it better reflects the make-up of our student body.

If elected, I am committed to listening to the diverse perspectives in our town. In addition to listening to residents who come to share their views at meetings, I would also be present in a variety of other forums and make myself available to meet with community members about particular issues. Meeting with students and reflecting their voices in discussions is a particular interest of mine.

I am a strong advocate for the funding our schools need to support high-quality teaching and learning environments for students. I am also attuned to our town’s constrained resources and hope that we can find ways to recognize efficiencies across our town departments and identify new revenue sources.

Serving on the School Committee is a big responsibility and I am ready to jump in as a well-prepared, pragmatic, and hard-working leader. This role is not a passing interest; I am committed to involvement in our schools over the long haul.

Please visit my website for more details about my priorities:  It would be a great privilege to serve the residents of Belmont on the School Committee, and I would be truly honored to have your vote on April 2.

Spring Corrugate Cleaning: Cardboard Drop Off Saturday, March 30

Photo: Cardboard drop off Saturday.

Have you got so much cardboard its overwhelming your recycling cart? Rather than waiting every two weeks to place it on the curb (and still have more stored in the garage), this Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. and noon, the Belmont’s Highway Department will accept dry and flattened cardboard packaging for recycling.

The drop off will take place at the DPW Yard, 37 C St. (off of Waverley Street)

Cardboard will be the only item taken. And the DPW will accept as much as you can fit into your vehicle.

Final Say: Tommasina Anne Olson, Belmont Housing Authority


I’m Tommasina Anne Olson I ask to be re-elected as a member to the Belmont Housing Authority on Tuesday, April 2.

I have been tireless in my efforts to serve Belmont and selflessly put Belmont and the BHA first in all decisions.

I have been involved in the Belmont Community for a number of years and have served Belmont beginning as a Town Meeting Member in 1991.  Since then I have been a committed advocate for seniors through the Belmont Council on Aging since 2009 and the Belmont Housing Trust since 2014. Serving on both provide valuable information necessary to address the Housing needs of our Belmont residents.

Given my commitment to education, I also serve on the Belmont School Superintendent’s Advisory Council/Belmont Community Education. This year I initiated the installation of four Little Library on the properties with the hope of encouraging greater reading and education.

Finally, I am also the founder and producer of the Payson Park Music Festival which for the past 29 seasons produces 15 community musical events,  evidencing my strong commitment to the community.

I have earned the trust of residents who have brought me their concerns and I have had them addressed.  One such is the completion of the much- delayed Community Center handicap ramp at Sherman Gardens.   I also explored a request for an elevator at Waverley Oak with several Town agencies.

The Board has taken special note of concerns sanitary conditions at the BHA. In concert with our new executive director, we move swiftly once these issues are brought to our attention through work orders.   Our timeliness of completion of these work orders has improved greatly. We also occasionally find it necessary to work with other Town agencies: Belmont Health Department, Council on Aging, Belmont Fire and Police Departments.

With a new Director on board for the past year and a half, the BHA Board is making changes to rectify issues not addressed over the past 30 years. We are improving our facilities, our financial reporting systems, and our personnel policies.

There is much left to be accomplished. Using a grant from the Housing Trust CPA funds the Board has initiated exploration of additional and upgraded facilities on the Sherman Gardens site. Serving on the Housing Trust provides me with access to the Planning Board as we move forward to begin this work. This work requires my proven ability to collaborate with other Town agencies.

Additionally, to complete this work requires strong analytical and business skills, and cost-benefit analysis, which I possess.

I take pride in being an advocate for all the residents of the Town, especially seniors and handicapped residents.  I have always had, and always will have an open door policy to listen to resident concerns. 

Given my experience as a financial professional, I possess the skills necessary to move the Belmont Housing Authority forward. But as importantly, my demonstrated commitment to the community and my strong connection to the Belmont community makes me a solid, vital advocate for fostering a sense of community within the BHA properties as well as encouraging a sense of community with the Town Belmont.

I ask for your vote on Tuesday, April 2.

Join Town Wide Clean Up On Saturday, April 6

Photo: Belmont Clean Up, April 6.

Debby Fenn, a local resident and owner of Away It Goes and Anne Mahon of Leading Age Real Estate are sponsoring a “Belmont Clean Up” on Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. with a rain date of April 7.

The idea for the clean up developed after Debby, while walking her dog, noticed that there seemed to be more trash lying around on sidewalks. “Walking around town made me see that we need to both be more aware of the problem and solve it by picking up the trash.”  Please join the fun! 

Community service is available – email to sign up for community service. Sign up at