Town Election ’17: Contested Races for Selectmen, Library Trustees

Photo: Town Clerk’s Office.

Belmont voters will have two contested races to decide at the annual Town Election on April 4, according to the Town Clerk’s office today, Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Hillcrest Road’s Guy Carbone and Adam Dash of Goden Street will vie for the one available seat on the Board of Selectmen while a pair of incumbents – Kathleen Keohane and Gail Mann – are challenged by newcomer David Stievater for the two open slots on the Trustees of the Public Library.

The deadline for submitting completed nomination papers was Tuesday at 5 p.m.

What appeared ready to be a competitive contest in April fizzled as the School Committee will in all likelihood welcome Kate Bowen as its newest member as the Barlett Avenue homeowner joined incumbent Tom Caputo as the two residents certified by the Town Clerk’s Office for the pair of open seats.

In the end, current School Committee member Elyse Shuster and the Zoning Board of Appeals Nicholas Iannuzzi did not return the nomination papers they had taken out.

In addition to the above races, the remainder of residents running unopposed for town-wide office include:

  • Michael Widmer for Town Meeting Moderator (one year)
  • Floyd Carman for Town Treasurer (three years)
  • Robert Reardon for Board of Assessors (three years) 
  • Alexander Corbett III for Board of Cemetery Comm. (three years)
  • Donna David for Board of Health (three years)
  • Corinne McCue Olmsted for a one-year seat on the Library Trustees.

Town Election ’17: Incumbents Baghdady, Shuster Step Aside

Photo: Sami Baghdady, Elyse Shuster

Citing personal commitments, a pair of town government incumbents have decided not to seek re-election.

Selectman Sami Baghdady and School Committee member Elyse Shuster told the Belmontonian at Monday’s town budget presentation they would not be running to retain their seats on the respective committees.

“It’s about a quality of life,” said Baghdady, who noted he had spent the past 12 years as a member or the chair of groups including the Selectmen, the Planning Board, and the Warrant Committee. 

“Now it’s time for me to focus my attention on my young family and my busy practice,” said Baghdady who is an Arlington-based attorney. 

Baghdady, who help lead the Planning Board through the special permit process on the Cushing Village project, was completing his first term as a Selectman, having served as its chair and vice chair during his three years on the board.

Shuster was elected in 2013 to the committee. In 2016, she abandoned her seat to win the one-year term which remained after Laurie Graham resigned.

While she did take out nomination papers for this year’s town election, “I decided over the weekend that I wouldn’t run,” Shuster told the Belmontonian.

“A couple of commitments” prompted her not to run, she said. 

Town Election 2017: Dash Off And Running After Launch Party

Photo: Adam Dash in focus.

If you’re going to have a campaign event for more than a dozen people in Belmont, it’s going to be in one of two places: the basement of the VFW Hall on Trapelo Road (where the bar is located) or Patou Thai in Belmont Center.

You will soon discover that while each location has its distinct ambiance, they both have one feature in common: they are the worst locations in eastern Massachusetts to take photos. Let’s just say you haven’t experienced tungsten lighting this harsh since they closed the interrogation rooms of Soviet-era prisons in the Ukraine.

But the light fixtures did not deter the 60-plus Belmontians from showing up to hear from Adam Dash as the Goden Street resident officially launched his campaign for a Selectmen’s seat this spring.

The Somerville attorney was there with his wife and younger daughter and campaign staff including co-chairs Ellen Schreiber and Sara Masucci – whom just so happened to be co-chairs of the Yes for Belmont effort that passed the Prop 2 1/2 override two years ago – and its chairman Ralph Jones.

Jones introduced Dash expanding on the candidate’s themes of vision, experience, and action.

“After last week, experience is needed” on the board, said Jones to a significant amount of laughter, not realizing his reference to the departure of Belmont’s Town Administrator David Kale would also be interpreted as a swipe at the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and his team that bungled a recent executive order.

He noted Dash’s membership on the Warrant Committee, Zoning Board of Appeals, Town Meeting and as vice chair of the Underwood Pool Building Committee, “the best building project this town has ever seen.” 

Dash joked to the audience that he has “met a million people or so” (What? Another swipe?) as he walked the streets knocking on doors and listening to residents who told him there needs to be a better way to conduct important town business “and then do it.”

He explained how he and neighbors including former Selectman Anne Marie Mahoney got the town to stop parking on both sides of Goden during high school football games which prevented vehicles from traveling on the narrowed street. 

“But not everyone is plugged in” as he and his neighbors.  

Action should be “top down rather than bottom up” when it comes to government, said Dash, who added that it was easy to just “kick the can” down the road; he would rather take the more challenging course of “getting the stone rolling for change.”

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Town Election 2017: Bowen Seeking A School Seat? Sami Will Say Soon His Future

Photo: Will he or won’t he. Only Sami knows.

Catherine “Kate” Bowen, the chair of Sustainable Belmont, has taken out nomination papers for a possible race for the Belmont School Committee.

Incumbents Tom Caputo (who has qualified to be on the ballot) and Elyse Shuster (who has also taken out nomination papers) currently occupy the two seats up for grabs at the annual Town Election on Monday, April 4. Bowen and Shuster have until Feb. 14 to submit 50 signatures of eligible voters to the Town Clerk’s office.

The Bartlett Avenue resident is active in town government – she is an active Town Meeting Member from Precinct 4 – and is involved at the Butler Elementary School which her children attend.

Bowen is a program administrator at Harvard University who matriculated at Hampshire College and has an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She also has a background in teaching art and art history at several Boston-area colleges and universities.

Will Sami Run?


That’s all incumbent Belmont Board of Selectman Sami Baghdady had to say on Monday, Jan. 23 when asked if he would be running to retain his seat on the three-member committee.

While newcomers Adam Dash and Guy Carbone have been certified for the April 4 ballot, Baghdady has not passed through the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall to pick up the necessary nomination papers.

While the attorney has plenty of time to collect the 50 signatures needed have his name before voters, residents around the coffee shops (especially the politically astute who hang out at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Trapelo Road) and town centers are asking; “Is Sami running?”

Known for his lawyerly demeanor on the board – he recently saved the town several thousand dollars in lost tax revenue when he spotted a possible legal dodge in the sales contract for the new electrical substation – Baghdady has pushed the members to complete long-delayed projects such as the community path.

While there is no indication the life-long resident who has held many roles in town government over the years isn’t running – he has been actively attending events such as the public meeting on Cushing Village this week – the curiosity of voters gets stronger by the day.

Town Election 2017: Dash Enters Selectmen’s Race, Shuster Pulls Papers for School Committee

Photo: Adam Dash delivering nomination papers to the Town Clerk’s Office.

Early Monday morning, Jan. 23, saw the usual hustle and bustle at the Town Clerk’s Office in Belmont: the Town Clerk was upstairs at Town Hall officiating at a wedding, the staff were staying busy in coats and sweaters as the building’s new boiler was on the fritz for the third time in a month, and numerous town officials were stopping by to ask questions.

In among the beehive of activity, Belmont voters were rewarded with a competitive race for the Board of Selectmen. Adam Dash presented Town Clerk Ellen Cushman – back in the office with newlyweds in tow – with 154 signatures from resident registered voters, all but assuring the Goden Street resident will be on the April 4 ballot with Woodfall Road’s Guy Carbone to battle it out for the single Selectmen’s seat up for grabs this year.

“It was fun knocking on doors and speaking to the residents,” said Dash, a longtime resident and an attorney with a practice in Somerville. Dash will officially launch his campaign on Saturday, Jan. 28, 3 p.m. at Patou Thai restaurant in Belmont Center.

Who hasn’t taken out nominations papers? It is the incumbent for Selectman, Sami Baghdady. Baghdady has been steadfast in not being pressured to say one way or another if he will seek a second  three-year term.

Who has taken out papers is Elyse Shuster, one of two incumbents – the other is Thomas Caputo – currently on the board. It’s not known if Shuster – who has been reluctant to make a public announcement on a return to the committee – will be seeking to challenge Caputo for a full three-year term or run for the two years remaining on her seat.

As for Dash, he finally got to meet his very experienced challenger as Carbone “crashed” the dropping off event – actually, he just came to do some research. A handshake, and then another for the cameras. 

“We get to meet. Wonderful,” said Carbone to Dash.

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