They’re Off: Incumbents Dash To Secure Nomination Papers For Town-Wide Offices

Photo: Mike Widmer would be seeking his 13th term as Town Moderator.

The 2020 Belmont Town Election is still 98 days away on April 7, 2020 but it appears this edition will be few if any open seats among the 11 town-wide positions up for grabs when Belmont voters go to the polls.

Incumbents in eight of the 11 possible races have quickly snagged nomination papers from the Town Clerk’s Office in preparation for re-election campaigns.

The current office holders who have taken the first steps for a return to town government are:

  • Town Moderator (1 year): Michael Widmer
  • Town Treasurer (3 years) : Floyd Carman
  • School Committee (Two 3-year terms): Catherine Bowen, Michael Crowley
  • Board of Assessors (3 years): Robert P. Reardon
  • Beard of Health (3 year term): Donna David
  • Board of Library Trustees (Two 3 year terms): Kathleen Keohane, Gail Mann

Of those who have yet to take out papers, the most notable absentee is the Select Board’s Adam Dash, who was first elected in 2017 winning 63 percent of the vote.

But speaking to the Belmontonian in the past week, Dash gave every indication of seeking a second term to the Board, saying he would “decide” on a possible run shortly after the holidays “when people are thinking about the election.”

Only Alexander E. Corbett III of the Cemetery Commission and Donna Brescia, the chair of the Housing Authority, are incumbents who have yet to obtain papers.

It remains to be seen if the lack of “open” seats will deter newcomers from seeking to throw “their hats into the ring.” Incumbents have built-in advantages when they run: name recognition, for many three years of accomplishments, and past supporters they can return to. As Guy Molyneux puts it in The American Prospect, “elections are fundamentally a referendum on the incumbent.”

“Only if [the electorate] decide to ‘fire’ the incumbent do they begin to evaluate whether each of the challengers is an acceptable alternative.”

For those who are determined to run for town-wide office, stop by the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall to pick up nomination papers; then submit the signed forms to the Clerk’s by the deadline, Feb. 18, 2020, at 5 p.m.  

The Town Clerk’s web pages contain quite a bit of information to help make a decision to seek office at then select Elections: Running for Elected Office and Town Meeting; feel free to call us at 617-993-2600, or email at

What’s Open/Closed On New Year’s Day 2020 In Belmont

Photo: Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

A Happy New Year, Belmont.

Unlike a week ago on Christmas, there a bit more options available for those seeking a strong cup of coffee, some aspirin or just resupplying the pantry.


  • Town offices
  • Federal offices
  • Belmont Public Library
  • US Postal Service, Belmont and Waverley Square.

Dunkin’ Donuts

• The store at 353 Trapelo Rd. in Central Square (the one at the intersection of Beech Street) is running regular hours: 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.


• The operation in Belmont Center at 47 Leonard St. is open from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The location at 110 Trapelo Rd. in Cushing Square will open its doors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Bruegger’s Bagels

• The store at 41 Leonard St. is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Star Market

The supermarket at 535 Trapelo Rd. will be operating slightly shorter hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Craft Beer Cellars

The best known Belmont business around the country, located at 51 Leonard St., will open at noon before closing at 6 p.m.

CVS Pharmacy

• The store at 264 Trapelo Rd. will be open regular hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Pharmacy will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• The Belmont Center location at 60 Leonard St. is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with the pharmacy open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you are looking to get around on the MBTA:

• The Fitchburg/South Acton Commuter Line will operate a Sunday schedule while buses and trackless trolleys that operate in Belmont are likewise running on a Sunday schedule.

Immigration Highlights Keynote Address At Belmont’s Annual MLK Breakfast, Jan. 20

Photo: Ragini Shah, founder and director of Suffolk University’s Immigration Clinic will be the keynote speaker at the annual MLK Community Breakfast.

The bond linking civil rights leader Martin Luther King and the struggle immigrants experience in today’s adverse environment will be the focus of this year’s keynote address at the 26th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast.

The event sponsored by the town’s Human Rights Commission and Belmont Against Racism will be held Jan. 20, 2020 from 8:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Belmont High School cafeteria.

Ragini Shah, clinical professor of law at Suffolk Law School and founder of Suffolk’s Immigration Clinic will talk on “Uplifting the Human Personality: Martin Luther King and Immigrants’ Rights Today.”

Music will fill out the program

There will be pastries, fruit, juice and coffee as well as supervised activity for children under 12.

Tickets: $5 for individuals; $10 per family. Pay at door or with eventbrite (

All proceeds and donations will be go to support the Belmont School’s METCO Support Fund which funds late transportation for METCO high school students who participate in after-school activities at Belmont High School and across all Belmont schools for programs that bring our Boston and Belmont students together.

Donations to the METCO Support Fund can be made by cash or check to: Belmont Against Racism, P.O. Box 649, Belmont, MA 02478

For info on the community breakfast, contact the Human Rights Commission at 617-993-2795 or

Belmont Under Winter Weather Advisory ‘Til New Year’s Eve Morning

Photo: Icy, snowy mess over the next 48 hours.

A large part of eastern Massachusetts including Belmont has been placed under a Winter Weather Advisory starting at 10:26 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 28 and lasting until 7 a.m. Tuesday, New Year’s Eve.

The National Weather Service issued an “urgent” message Sunday that the impacted area will receive about an inch of mixed precipitation of snow and sleet along with a light glazing of ice producing hazardous conditions including slippery road conditions that could impact Monday’s morning or evening commute.

During the advisory, winds will gust as high as 35 m.p.h. buffering the Massachusetts coast. High winds could damage trees causing electrical outages. Below are telephone numbers to keep at the ready when the lights go out:

  • Belmont Light (to report outages): 617-993-2800.
  • The Town of Belmont EMERGENCY HOTLINE: (617) 993-2698.

Who’s Closing Early Christmas Eve; What’s Open/Closed On Christmas In Belmont


Merry Christmas, Belmont. If after unwrapping all your presents and watching the latest holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel you have a “need” to get out of the house, here are a few places around town open on Christmas.

Christmas Eve early closings:

  • All Belmont Town Offices and the Public Library will close at Noon, Christmas Eve.
  • Both Starbucks locations are closing at 5 p.m.
  • Star Market at 353 Trapelo Rd. is closing at 6 p.m.
  • Craft Beer Cellar at 51 Leonard St. in the Center will close at 6 p.m.

Christmas Day


  • The Dunkin’ at 353 Trapelo Rd. near Beech Street has a big sign in the window that says “Open on Christmas. Normal Hours! So it will be open from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.
  • The store located at 52 Church St. in Waverley Square is closed on Christmas.
  • The newest Dunkin’ in town at 350 Pleasant St. will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.


  • The Belmont Center stores at 47 Leonard St. and 110 Trapelo Rd. will be closed.

CVS Pharmacy

  • The stores at 264 Trapelo Rd. and 60 Leonard St. in Belmont Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Christmas, but the pharmacy at both locations will is closed.

Star Market

  • Belmont’s supermarket located at 535 Trapelo Rd. is closed for the day.

Studio Cinema

  • What would Christmas be if the local movie theater was closed? Thankfully, Belmont’s Studio Cinema at Trapelo and Beech will be open and screening Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at 1:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m., and 8 p.m.

If you are looking to get around on the MBTA:

  • The Fitchburg/South Acton Commuter Line will operate a Sunday schedule while buses and trackless trolleys that operate in Belmont are likewise running on a Sunday schedule.

As FY ’21 Tax Rate Falls, Average Tax Bill Jumps 11% As High School Debt Exclusion Kicks In

Photo: The Assessors before the Select Board (from left) Martin Millane, Robert Reardon and Charles Laverty III

Belmont homeowners knew the day of reckoning was coming.

And that day will be July 1, 2020 when the dual impact of the successful vote on the $213 million debt exclusion to build the new Middle and High School and continued skyrocketing property values will result in one of the largest annual property tax increases in recent memory, according to Robert Reardon, the long-time chair of the Belmont Board of Assessors.

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but maybe the amount will,” said Reardon.

The red hot Belmont property market contributed in pushing up the “average” single family home value (made up of the sum of all home values divided by the number of homes) to $1,285,000 with property values on single family homes increased a whopping 18 percent in the past 12 months outpacing all other categories such as condos (6 percent) and multi-families (10 percent), Reardon told a special meeting of the Select Board held Wednesday, Dec. 18.

“[Belmont] remains a desireable place to live and it has a good school system. And while it’s very close to Boston, you can still get a good yard and a garage while in Cambridge for the same price you’ll likely get off street parking,” said Reardon whose day job is as director of Cambridge’s Assessing Department.

The total annual taxes on that “average” house comes to $14,135, an 11 percent increase from the $12,720 set the previous fiscal year, with half of the $1,415 increase attributed to the debt exclusion passed by voters in November, 2018, said Reardon, who attended the meeting with his fellow board members Charles Laverty, III and Martin Millane.

Taxes %

The rest of the increase consists of the annual two-and-a-half percent ceiling on total property taxes the town can levy and new growth which came in at $1.1 million.

Reardon also noted this year’s debt exclusion only covers the first half of the construction funding with a second, equally large increase coming in fiscal 2021.

Reardon came before the board to reveal the town’s property tax rate for the coming fiscal year – which begins on July 1, 2020 – at $11 per $1,000 assessed value, a reduction of two-thirds of a buck from the fiscal ’19 rate of $11.67.

The total assessed value of property in Belmont shot up to $9.210 billion from $7.947 billion in fiscal ’19.

As in past years, the assessors recommended, and the selectmen agreed to, a single tax classification and no real estate exemptions. Reardon said Belmont does not have anywhere near the amount of commercial and industrial space (at must be least a minimum of 20 percent, said Reardon) to creating separate tax rates for residential and commercial properties. Belmont’s commercial base is 3.9 percent of the total real estate.

“There’s always this misconception that if you have a split rate it’s going to be beneficial for homeowners but that’s not the case,” said Reardon.

A Room Of Stars Came To Send Belmont Police Chief McLaughlin Into Retirement

Photo: A galaxy of police chiefs came to honor Belmont Chief Richard McLaughlin on his retirement after 39 years in public safety.

Former Belmont Town Administrator David Kale said after looking around the Select Board Room in Town Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 17, “this is the safest place to be in America.”

Inside the space were more than a dozen chiefs of police – each with stars blazing from their collars and shoulders – from across Middlesex county along with many officers, current and past, of the Belmont Police Department.

It was a mighty impressive group of leaders from across the region who came out on a wintery morning to fete one of their own.

For the past dozen years, Richard McLaughlin has led the Belmont Police Department and is just a few weeks from retiring after nearly five decades of service to the country and the towns of Arlington and Belmont.

“When I saw the weather forecast yesterday I told (his wife) Sharon ‘you know, we may be here by ourselves’,” said McLaughlin to the crowd that filled the room.

“I can’t believe how many people came. Thank you again. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it,” said an emotional McLaughlin.

Town officials – many of who are his friends – a slew of former Selectmen, town employees, residents (including Middlesex DA Marion Ryan) and past members of the Belmont Police force joined McLaughlin and his law enforcement brethren for a final celebration of his long tenure.

Will Brownsberger and Dave Rodgers, Belmont’s elected officials on Beacon Hill, presented a joint proclamation from the Massachusetts House and Senate, the Select Board’s Adam Dash delivered the town’s own decree and Kale returned to Town Hall to present a plaque to the chief for his years on the beat.

A Navy veteran and graduate of both Northeastern and Anna Maria College, McLaughlin joined the Arlington police in 1980, raising to the rank of captain before being named in 2007 Chief of Police in Belmont.

McLaughlin also took leadership roles in several police organizations such as the president of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, treasurer of the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police Association and member of the Northeast Homeland Security Regional Advisory Council.

“You used public safety to reflect who you are and that was to help people,” said Kale. “You leave a legacy of touching many lives over your career in a very positive way.”

“I truly believe that we have a great department with a lot of good people doing a lot of good things including a lot of stuff that’s not seen by the public every day. But they’re out there doing it. And that makes me so proud.

“It’s an honor for me to have been your police chief and I thank you for that,” he said.

Belmont Light’s Winter Celebration/Blanket Drive Set For Thursday

Photo: Part of the poster for Belmont Light’s Winter Celebration and Blanket Drive.

The town’s electrical utility, Belmont Light, will be celebrating the Winter season with its customers at the 40 Prince St. office on Thursday, Dec. 19 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.   

The event is open to all Belmont Light customers. Those attending are encouraged to bring a new or very gently used blanket, bedspread, comforter, or quilt with them to the event to help share the warmth with others in need.

Customers will have an opportunity to enjoy a mug of hot cider or hot chocolate and say “hello” to special guest Frosty the Snowman.

Belmont Light customers will be able to pick up a free LED light bulb and an LED nightlight.

For more information, visit the website or call 617-993-2800.

Arizona Business Express Interest In Opening Pot Shop On Pleasant Street

Photo: An image of Mint’s retail pot operation on Pleasant Street.

An Arizona-based firm described as “an industry leader in the blossoming cannabis industry” has sent a notice of intent to Belmont town officials to open a “world class adult-use“ retail marijuana dispensary on Pleasant Street where a service station is currently located.

Mint Retail Facilities LLC which runs a pair of retail shops in the Phoenix suburbs of Guadalupe and Mesa hopes to open its first Massachusetts operation at 768 Pleasant St. “no later than Dec. 31, 2020” if all goes to plan.

The one-story building will be constructed where Lenny’s Service Center is currently operating, adjacent to My Other Kitchen and Auto Engineering Body Work and Cityside Subaru.

Shops near Tempe.

The firm, owned by Eiavan Sahara, is concurrently seeking state cultivation and manufacturing licenses in Palmer and Beverly.

Mint joins Winchester couple Kelly and Stephen Tomasello who have expressed interest in turning a commercial storage site at 1010 Pleasant St. into Cal Verde Naturals, 3,600 square foot single story “retail wellness shop.”

While both ventures will need to commit to discussions on host community agreements, no time line has been established with either group, said Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator, to the Select Board on Monday, Dec. 16.

The town is currently drafting guidelines with the help of Town Counsel George Hall for applicants to follow during the licensing process.

Once the business receives a provisional license from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission – following the signing of a host community agreement with the town and the issuance of a special permit from the Planning Board – it will begin construction and open its operation within 180 days.

According to a business plan sent to town officials, the firm will seek to operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The building will have limited access areas for security and operational reasons with “buzz-in” electronic/mechanical entry systems. The firm’s letter to the town details other areas of the operation including odor controls, waste disposal, storage, inventory and transportation of weed.

The store will sell flowers, concentrates and extracts, infused edibles, accessories and branded merchandise with produces coming from its own manufacturing plants as well as other suppliers including providing “priority consideration to product cultivated in Belmont by independent cultivators.”

One area Mint hopes to cultivate is a delivery service which would go counter to one of the two town restrictions placed in the marijuana bylaw; the other being a 25 year old age restriction on the purchase of pot.

In a profile by the Spanish-language press association EFE News, its Arizona operations – located near the Arizona State University – are “visited daily by some 1,000 customers” selling everything imaginable related to the weed “from infusions to cannabis-themed T-shirts and souvenirs.” Mint’s website promotes store proportionals like a “Toasted Tuesday Sale” when customers can purchase “one gram of flower wrapped in Shatter, then submerged in Kief” for “ONLY $25.”

Mint’s most innovative offering is a first-of-its-kind medical marijuana kitchen serving up “blueberry muffins, salad, pizza, and macaroni and cheese with a dash of cannabis.”

Crunching the numbers, the firm expects to spend $1.5 million in capital costs and working capital to open the Belmont store. By its second year, the firm predicts the store will gross $9.5 million with net income of $700,000.

In addition, Mint forecasts Belmont receiving $276,000 in combined local marijuana and community impact taxes in the first year increasing to $660,000 by the fourth year. The firm said it will create 20 new jobs and pay half a million dollars in salaries and benefits.

Mint, which is also seeking to enter the Michigan market in 2020, is seeking to ride the rapidly growing cannabis retail market with forecasts of the total economic output of legal retail pot will skyrocket 150 percent from $16 billion in 2017 to $40 billion by 2021, according to BDS Analytics.

A Detroit native, Sahara started his first business at 19 with a low price auto glass repair operation before heading to Phoenix to start up a number of discount businesses. Sahara is owner of a glass repair operation for the past 11 years achieving $1 million in profits in 2018.

Coffeehouse Fundraiser At Belmont High On Friday

Photo: Coffeehouse at Belmont High on Friday

End the week with is an evening of entertainment, good food and festive celebration at the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s Winter Coffeehouse Fundraiser on Friday, Dec. 13 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Join the company as they transform the High School’s cafeteria into a cozy performance hall for this favorite annual tradition. Enjoy musical acts performed by Belmont High students, dinner and drink from local restaurants, along with tasty desserts. 

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for students. Cost of food not included in admission price.