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Hingham selectman candidates talk about the issues

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  April 29, 2013 02:15 PM

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Four contested races in Hingham will come to a head on Tuesday, as candidates for Selectman, School Committee, Sewer Commission, and Planning Board square off for empty seats.

Before the polls are opened, candidates for selectman talked about why they should win support, and spoke about the issues facing the town.

To view all the races, click here.

Paul's campaign photo.jpgCandidate: Paul K Healey
Past experience: 31 years of public service including as a Police officer in Hingham for 11 years, including five years as sergeant; Planning Board member for 19 years, five of which as its chair; Traffic Committee member; Traffic Safety Committee member; Zoning Bylaw Committee member; Master Plan Committee member; and Member of working group analyzing Main and Cushing Street intersection.
Age: 56
Day job: Private practice attorney.

Boston Globe: You have a long resume, but what makes you the most qualified to be a selectman?

Paul Healey: I’ve just listed 31 years of town experience and in that time, I know the neighborhoods thoroughly. I’ve grown up here. I’ve raised my children here. My wife Esther and I were in the same class from Hingham High and all our kids have gone through the school, so I have a broad base knowledge, both town government and the social culture of the town.

I’ve served on a number of different committees which I’ve just listed, and we’ve addressed a wide range of issues – growth, preservation, effective regulation, development, you name it. So to me, my [Planning Board] term was running out next year, and I was either going to step away or step up, and so I had the opportunity with Laura Burns not seeking reelection to run for the open seat of selectman.

I know many people in town government, whether it’s the employees or the volunteers that serve, and I’ve worked with many of them over the past couple of decades and I’ve worked well with them. The Chief of Police is a guy I used to be a partner with, we went to academy together and worked midnight to 8 a.m. shift…

I think I can serve the town in a positive way. I’ve done hundreds of hearings, literally, with hundreds of projects the Planning Board has worked on…I know how to conduct myself in a hearing. I know how to obey the law. I know how to treat people with respect and listen to their concerns and integrate them into the process so they feel they have a voice, I think that’s something every selectman should be able to do. I can work with people with differing points of view - I don’t bring an agenda. I’m there to serve the best interests of the town. That’s always been my yardstick, and will continue to be if I’m fortunate enough to be elected…

BG: What do you feel the most pressing issues are right now?

PH: There’s quite a few actually. I’m very familiar with the 40B process and the issue of affordability. The planning board has been involved on that for decades…we’ve supported the concept and applicability of affordable housing within projects we’ve permitted. I’d like to continue to do that. One of the three selectmen is typically on the affordable housing trust, so that’s something that requires an ongoing awareness of that issue…

I think the Summer Street corridor as well as the waterfront is an ongoing work in progress with respect to sensible development of it. We recently acquired the gas station, the mobile gas station a couple years ago at town meeting, and we’re talking about building a bridge over the Whitney Wharf … So that’s something we’ll continue to do and selectmen are actively involved in that…

And I think that the dispatch center is something that was highlighted as a potential issue, and I think with my experience as a former police officer, I have a superior understanding of frankly what needs to be done in order to make sure that the calls are dispatched correctly, effectively, and promptly. I think that’s something that can be addressed, I think the regional dispatch center is something a great deal of time and effort has been spent to make it work, it can work, but there have been issues identified that need to be effectively addressed…

Traffic issues are important. Maintaining AAA bond rating is important. The quality of our schools can’t be understated in terms of its importance. My wife served two terms as an elected school committee member, so we’ve had many discussions of the educational issues. I’m a product of Hingham Public Schools and I have five children who are products of Hingham Public Schools, and they have done well in their careers, I recognize the value of the school system.

BG: What is the first thing you would do if you were elected?

PH: First thing I would do? I would do my level best to work well with the two existing selectmen. I know both personally. I believe working collegiately and through consensus is not something that can be undervalued.

I don’t bring any agenda. I know there are a lot of other issues on the fire so to speak – acquisition of the water company was a question I got at a lot of coffees I attended - people are interested to know where I stand on that. I’m waiting to see where the results of the committee charged come up with. I spoke with the chairman of that committee…it’s too early to say just yet what needs to be done there.

… I admire and respect the commitment of my fellow residents…to make town government good. I think the Board of Selectmen and moderator appointment majority of the citizens to sit on these boards. That would be another task I would undertake on a regular basis inside or out of the selectmen’s office. I’ve always been on the outlook of folks to serve in different positions…

It’s a big job, and over the years I’ve had people encourage me to run, and I’ve been happy on the planning board. But I’ve been on 19 years, and I was encouraged this time, and my wife supported it. I couldn’t do this without the assistance of my wife. I know the kind of time involved, the energy you need. I’ve sat on a committee that meets every week and does a lot of work in the background. I’m not walking into this without a clear understanding of what it is I’m undertaking.

I’ve been out there waving signs, getting the message out. I think I can do a good job.

g12c0000000000000006ac75f5f1b9b4f6edd281c31f3bf2f43d5e9f6cf.jpgCandidate: Carlton “Al” Chambers Sr.
Past experience: Member of the Industrial and Development Committee in the 70s, member of South Shore Hospital Board for 13 years, member of Hingham Police Department’s Citizens Academy, helped develop Community Response Team.
Age: 72
Day job: Retired financial executive

Boston Globe: What makes you qualified to be a selectman?

Al Chambers: I think I’m well qualified to be a selectman. Most of my years in business were spent in the finance area. I was a financial executive for a good many years … but mostly the highest position I ever held was I was a Senior Vice President for a division president of Tycore, based out of LA, and I ran the northeast for them. So I feel qualified for this job.

The reason I feel qualified for this is because the town is facing many financial issues. As you know, both from the federal government on revenue sharing and the state level we will see diminishment of revenues, because they are struggling under great deficits … the people I’m concerned about primarily are those on fixed incomes with diminished resources because of the recession…I’d prefer if you not think I’m a candidate for the older folks, but the fact of the matter is there are a lot of people who are hurting, who have voted a $55 million middle school…and just went through a town meeting where they voted to spend money on $4.5 million rebuilding the town fields. Also acquired a septic treatment plant in South Hingham.

The town is in a position where it has to spend money…[but] I’m a fiscal conservative, and I want to watch dollars. Those programs have to be done, but I think I’m an ideal candidate to sit down and parse through the dollar expenditures and make some lightening to negate some of the effect as it hits people in the town for taxes.

BG: You just mentioned the tax burden, but what do you are other pressing issues right now?

AC: There are two issues. First of all…I feel that its important that people feel they are being listened to in town government, and there has been a split … people that feel the town of Hingham is being run by money interests, people with lots of money to spend, and by special interest groups that want to build projects like the high school fields and football programs. A lot of people get dragged into it.

The other thing I feel we’re doing wrong…the town is well run but they have ignored a lot of important issues. For example our parks are run down. Town forests are badly overgrown … And we have traffic problems that are not being addressed in terms of dangerous intersections, and I have recommended that the state forest – Wompatuck, the largest camping forest near Boston … the state park has one gate in Hingham. There are other gates in Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell … I think we need to open the gates of the state park to alleviate traffic on the Main Street of Hingham.

BG: What is the first thing you would do if you were elected?

AC: It’s a complicated job. The first thing I would do is frankly I have been studying the job. It’s a very interesting job and frequently thankless. You’re always on the wrong side of the issue [to some people] … I want to continue my study on how to do it.

I’m not a politician, and on Tuesday I might not be one at all, but … I do counseling. When I retired from real estate and from banking I [started doing] counseling of people who are in trouble, and there are a ton of people in the South Shore that have real financial problems … these people are not being listened to, and consequently, I’ve decided that I would put my name in the ring nd run on a conservative basis. What I would be doing is watching the budget closely, monitoring program developments carefully and making sure, as we absorb these new debt burdens over the next couple of years, that they be implemented as inexpensively as possible.

I’m considered an underdog. I just felt it was time to step forward again because I have skills that may be helpful.

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