WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Democratic Town Committee held its Annual Scholarship Breakfast on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at Windsor Place of Wilmington.
10 politicians at the local, state and federal levels addressed a crowd of more than 30 Democrats from Wilmington and surrounding communities.
Representative Seth Moulton’s Office
Rick Jakious, District Director for Congressman Seth Moulton, acknowledged his boss’s presidential ambitions.
“[Seth] is thinking hard about how he can be most valuable leading up to 2020,” said Jakious. “[He] will continue to deliver for the constituents of the 6th district.”
Jakious praised the late State Representative Jim Miceli and his successor State Representative Dave Robertson.
“I’ve never met a state legislator that was more connected to and delivered more for his community than Rep Miceli,” said Jakious. “His replacement had some really big shoes to fill. We’ve been very excited to work closely with Dave. We’ve talked almost weekly since the election. He’s really hit the ground running. You’re lucky to have such a fantastic state delegation with Dave and Ken Gordon.”
Jakious cautioned the crowd not to get “activist fatigue.”
“We’re going to have to earn the next election,” he stressed. “Democrats are going to have to win on ideas and hard work. We sat it in 2018 with the House victory… It’s time to double down.”
State Representative Dave Robertson
“The best piece of news from Beacon Hill I can share with you is that I finally got an office on Friday,” joked State Representative David Robertson (D-Tewksbury).
Robertson told the crowd that, after attending a hearing earlier this week, he believes the town’s Route 38 reconstruction project — which calls for various road improvements from the Woburn line to the Burlington Ave intersection — will likely break ground in 2020 or 2021.
“We’re keeping things local, keeping things common sense, and keeping things moving forward,” Robertson told the crowd.
Robertson also highlighted the State House’s recent measures to disallow psychiatrists to force people who are gay or lesbian to undergo conversion therapy.
State Representative Ken Gordon
State Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford), who represents Precinct 3 in Wilmington, announced that he was recently appointed Vice Chair of the Economic Development Committee.
“My responsibility has been to come up with a policy to address sports gambling here in Massachusetts,” said Gordon. “It’s going to be fascinating and complex. How widespread will it be? Do you have to go to a casino or can you do it on your phone? What technology will be put in place to prevent over-betting? We look forward to tackling and addressing these issues. The Governor wants something in place by the next Patriots season. I’m sure we’ll meet that — it’s more important to do this right, not do it fast.”
Gordon said that the state’s education funding formula may finally get a long overdue update.
“We’re looking at a comprehensive policy on education… This wil probably be our great priority this session,” said Gordon. “The foundation budget formula was created in 1993… Things have changed since then. Our towns are challenged with educating students with special needs. It’s very expensive.”
Gordon praised the work of his first-year colleague, State Rep. Robertson.
“Dave has done a fantastic job in starting to fill the shoes of Jim Miceli,” said Gordon. “Because of his experience working with Jim, he knows what doors to knock on and who is behind them. Constituents don’t care how long you’ve been in office, but if you know how to get things done.”
State Representative Tram Nguyen
State Representative Tram Nguyen (D-Andover) represents two precincts in neighboring Tewksbury and is working with Wilmington’s delegation on Route 38 improvements.
“You’ve all done good here in Wilmington. You have two great state reps here,” observed Nguyen, who told the crowd not to “let their guard down” in the 2020 election.
“I was able to flip a seat from red to blue against a longtime incumbent. My predecessor [Jim Lyons] has become the head of the Mass GOP,” said Nguyen. “I care and am fighting for commonsense things — housing, the environment, education, healthcare, infrastructure. We cannot let them drag us down. They’ve already started attacking me and I’ve only been in office for three months. They’ve protested. They attack on social media. They’re spewing completely false misinformation.”
“I need you all to help me,” continued Nguyen. “My time is spent making sure working families have the support they need. Making sure that people in need have access to unemployment. We don’t have time for all their divisivness. When they go low, we go high. You helped us get elected. Please help us stay in office.”
State Representative Candidate Michelle Mullet
State Representative candidate Michelle Mullet (D-North Reading) recently announced she will be challenging House Minority Leader Brad Jones. Jones is a longtime incumbent who frequently runs unopposed.
“I’m a mother of two little boys. I’ve learned that fighting is fun. I want to fight for you… I want to fight the good fight and help my community,” said Mullet. “I’m running against a guy who’s been there for 23 years… As a bold progressive Latina, I’m not easily intimated. I feel the days of ‘business as usual’ are over.”
“When people ask me why I’m running, the answer is simple,” continued Mullet. “We’re living under the most corrupt, disruptive administration our country has ever seen… I wan to turn my activism into leadership in the House.”
Mullet outlined the three majority priorities of her campaign — (1) gun violence prevention; (2) creating more union jobs; and (3) looking at 100% renewal energy sources by 2045.
Selectman Candidate Suzanne Sullivan
Selectman candidate Suzanne Sullivan shared some of her personal background with the crowd.
“I grew up in the city of Lynn. I came from a single family home. I had a deadbeat dad. We were pretty poor. We lived on a very busy street with commercial properties on three sides of our house,” said Sullivan. “My mother graduated from Northeastern and became a teacher. She eventually go stick and succumbed from cancer. I wound up quitting high school at 17. If I didn’t get out of Lynn, I felt I might not survive. I got my GED and took some college classes.”
“I moved to Wilmington in 1989, nearly 30 years ago. I have 3 wonderful children. I divorced and wound up raising my three kids myself,” continued Sullivan. “The Ipswich River clean-up spurred my civic need to do something. I’ve done water quality monitoring on the Ipswich in Wilmington every month for 20 years. [My river work] has turned into other actions. I haven’t really stopped since… I got involved in the Olin issue, which I’ve been working on for 20 years.”
Sullivan was critical of the Board of Selectmen’s recent stances relative to detox facility proposal and exploring alternative uses for the Olin site without a clean up plan in place. She feels the Board is failing to listen to its residents.
“I grew up in an Irish Democratic home where politics were very important. Our government is supposed to be responsive to the people. I’ve always believed that,” said Sullivan. “The Olin issue led to lots of adversarial meetings where the town was not listening to its citizens…. I still feel, after all these years, the town government isn’t being responsive to its residents.”
“Things really haven’t change. We need to do better. We need to treat people better.
We need to include more people in the process. We need to ask for residents’ opinions. We really need to make some changes in Wilmington,” concluded Sullivan.
Selectman Candidate Kevin Caira
Selectman Chair Kevin Caira painted a much more positive picture of Wilmington’s town government.
“We’re doing a lot of good work in Wilmington. It’s a great place to live. It’s a great place to raise a family. We want to keep it that way,” said Caira, who noted the town doesn’t have the type of fees that other communities are accustomed to.
Caira highlighted many of the board’s accomplishments over the past three years, including the the opening of Yentile Farm, the opening of the Town Dog Park, and the opening of the seasonal ice skating rink at Rotary Park. Caira also noted the town has secured state and/or federal funding for several key upcoming infrastructure projects, including the reconstruction of a 2-lane Butters Row Bridge, improvements at the intersection of Lowell Street and Woburn Street; and improvements on Route 38, from the Woburn line to the Wilmington train station. Caira also noted the recent creations of the Town Economic Development Committee and the Town Meeting Review Committee.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction in Wilmington. Our tax base is still low. It’s still one of the lowest, if not the lowest, tax rate among 15 Merrimack Valley communities. We budget conservatively.” added Caira. “There are a lot of talented people at Town Hall that work at your behalf. And there a lot of volunteers in the community that show their blue and white and do a lot of good work.”
Selectman Candidate Jomarie O’Mahony’s campaign
Gary DePalma, an adviser to Selectmen candidate Jomarie O’Mahony’s campaign, said a few words for the candidate, who was traveling out-of-state.
“Jo supports our schools, fire and police departments. Route 38 is a priority of her’s,” said DePalma. “She’s concerned about the Selectmen’s Meetings…. You can yell, scream and holler all you want, but cilvitly will get your point across.”
Selectman Jonathan Eaton
Selectman Jonathan Eaton, who is not up for re-election until 2021, also addressed the crowd.
“To be effective, I need feedback from you. If there’s ever anything in the future that you have a concern about, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me,” said Eaton
Eaton specifically asked for feedback on a forthcoming proposal to potentially eliminate certain stops at the North Wilmington MBTA Commuter Rail station. Eaton said he had reservations about the proposal, suggesting it was “a step in the wrong direction” and that government should be “encouraging, not discouraging, public transportation.” MBTA representatives will be in front of the Board of Selectmen at the April 8 meeting to discuss the issue of trains blocking Route 62 and preventing public safety vehicles from crossing the tracks when responding to emergencies.
School Committee candidate Jesse Fennelly
School Committee candidate Jesse Fennelly, may be running unopposed, but he is still campaigning hard.
“I want to maintain some consistency within district leadership, something that has been noticeably lacking over the past few years,” said Fennelly. “I want to make sure our children are safe in school… Addressing the foundation budget is also a priority of mine… Our high school graduates must be prepared for what life brings them… I want to continue to move the district in the right direction.”
Town Moderator Rob Peterson
“Your job isn’t done on April 27’s Town Election. You’re next big task is May 4 at Town Meeting,” said Town Moderator Rob Peterson. “Town Meeting is the purest form of democracy. It provides unique opportunities for all residents and is forum to have your voice be heard. You can have a direct responsibility and action on what direction the town takes.”
“It can be a little deflating and getting a minum number of quorum,” admitted Peterson. “After we get a quorum of 150 voters present, it doesn’t matter how many people remain. We could conceivable have 30 people vote for budget for 24,000 people.”
“We are going to be developing a Town Meeting Review Committee. Come to Town Meeting on May 4, see how it works, and then tell us how we can make it better,” continued Peterson. “We want more involvement from residents and a more accurate cross section of our community to attend. We want to streamline the Town Meeting process. How can we make the meeting more efficient? How can we get more people through the door? Should we vote on the budget as a whole? Should we start providing childcare again? Should we eliminate random order What will make Town Meeting more ‘fun’ and get more butts in the seats to take all sorts of important actions?”
Town Committee Chairwoman Erika Johnson
Wilmington Democratic Town Committee Chair Erika Johnson began the event with a moment of silence for the late State Rep. Jim Miceli. The Committee also left a seat empty (reserved) for Miceli.
“After his passing last year, the Committee voted to dedicate our scholarship to him,” announced Johnson. “This year, one Wilmington senior attending Wilmington High and one Wilmington seniors attending the Shawsheen Tech will be receiving James R. Miceli Memorial Scholarship.”
“This is an incredible turnout. We haven’t seen these numbers in a long time. It means a lot,” Johnson told the crowd. “You believe in us. Thank you for supporting such a great cause like our scholarship.”
Johnson noted all candidates in this year’s local races were invited to speak. Johnson read a statement from Selectman candidate Rob Fasulo, who could not attend the event. Fasulo argued that he and Sullivan are the only two candidates in their race who have fresh ideas and represent change.
Johnson reminded attendees that the Town Committee meets the first Monday of the month at 7pm at WCTV Headquarters (10 Waltham Street).
Johnson also announced that the Wilmington, Tewksbury and Billerica Democratic Town Committees will be holding a Political Comedy Night featuring Jimmy Tingle on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at the the Billerica Elks. More details will be announced in the summer.
(Editor’s Note: If the Wilmington Republican Town Committee ever held an event of this size, Wilmington Apple would be happy to attend.)
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