Correction: In my letter, I mistakenly attributed statements from supporters who are campaigning for Ruban to “the Ruban campaign.” Ms. Ruban did not make these claims.
To the editor:
I care deeply about the Belmont schools. I rely on our town services. I feel strongly that we need to fix our crumbling infrastructure; roads, sidewalks, buildings, playgrounds, etc.
The 2015 successful override advanced all of these priorities and provided greater financial security for our town.
We owe that to Mark Paolillo.
For me, it is a clear choice:
- Choose a selectman with 22 years of experience on the Board of Selectmen, Warrant Committee, and Town Meeting.
- Or choose a selectman in Alexandra Ruban whose only Belmont experience is voting in one town election.
This institutional knowledge that Paolillo brings to the Board of Selectmen is irreplaceable.
Let’s take the override as an example of Mark’s knowledge and leadership. Most people only saw the seven-week campaign. We celebrated and congratulated each other for making it happen.
But I know, it wouldn’t have happened without Mark’s multi-year preparation, advocacy, and leadership.
How did the override come to be?
- Mark did his homework. He determined that a key reason for the failure of the 2010 override was that we didn’t adequately show the voters why we were asking for more money.
- He laid the groundwork. He and the selectmen upgraded the town’s administrative and financial staff so we could properly do the analysis.
- He made the case. He created and led the financial task force which exhaustively evaluated all avenues to address the town’s financial challenges.
- He got it on the ballot. Many obstacles could have prevented putting the override on the April ballot, but Mark made it happen.
- He advocated for the override. Mark made presentation after presentation explaining why the town needed an infusion of new revenue.
- And in the last seven weeks, we – the community as a whole – launched a vigorous campaign. I don’t underestimate the importance of the campaign. But I won’t overestimate it either.
Passing an override is hard work. No one wants to pay more taxes. Residents will not pass an override without believing that everything else has been tried. And that requires hard work, experience, knowledge and leadership.
Experience means you know how to get things done. You know who has the skills to solve complex problems. You know what has been tried in the past, why it worked, or why it failed. You are ready to act. In other words, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
It is not enough for our leaders to vote for our priorities. They need the experience to do the hard work that makes the vote possible.
I have only had one meeting with Ruban. I believe that she is smart and well-intentioned. But I also believe that she needs experience in Belmont town government before she is qualified to serve as a selectman.
I began my learning curve five years ago. After two years on the Warrant Committee, five years on Town Meeting, three years on the Underwood Pool Building Committee, and numerous other Belmont leadership roles (YES for Belmont, Joey’s Park, Winn Brook PTA, Belmont KidSpace), I am still on a learning curve. I do not believe it is possible to be the kind of selectman that Belmont deserves without prior experience.
Belmont has important challenges ahead: the high school project, continued enrollment growth, budgetary pressures, and quality of life projects that require Mark’s collaborative approach to complete.
The future of Belmont’s children and seniors and everyone in between will be better served by retaining Mark Paolillo’s institutional knowledge, leadership and experience on the Board of Selectmen.
It is a clear choice.
Please join me in voting for Mark Paolillo on April 5.