Photo: Sami Baghdady.
One year after being elected to the Belmont Board of Selectmen, Sami Baghdady was named the board’s new chair at the first meeting of the group after the Town Election.
“I am honored to be named and selected,” said Baghdady after the board’s meeting Wednesday night, April 8.
Baghdady’s colleague and longest serving member of the board, Mark Paolillo, was named as vice chair.
“I will need your experience” running the board, Baghdady told Paolillo.
A real estate and corporate attorney with a solo practice in Arlington, the nearly life-long resident of Belmont – Butler, Chenery, Belmont High alum – lives with his wife, Rola, and family near Belmont’s Central Square. Before winning election to fill an open seat on the board with the retirement of Ralph Jones, Baghdady is best known for his leadership of the Planning Board from 2010 to 2014.
Baghdady replaces Andy Rojas, defeated in Tuesday’s election to the board’s newest member, Jim Williams.
After the meeting, Baghdady told the Belmontonian his first act as chair will be to bring together both sides of the contentious $4.5 million Proposition 2 1/2 Override ballot question to work towards common goals.
“The time for healing needs to begin,” he said, adding that he will work to highlight the concerns of the supporters of the override – approved by nearly 900 votes Tuesday – and those who raised questions about the amount requested and spending the additional funds in the correct line items.
In the lead up to the election, the level of charges and counter-charges of petty vandalism to political signs and neighbors acting unneighborly to each other over their stance on the override resulted in the Town Clerk and Belmont Police to issue a town-wide notice for all sides on the issue to be more civil in their discourse.
“As I said at the meeting, it is the role of the Board of Selectmen to unite the community since we are all neighbors,” said Baghdady.