WILMINGTON, MA — Incumbents Greg Bendel and Kevin Caira, along with challengers Rob Fasulo, Mark Maselli, Dan Murphy and Suzanne Sullivan, are competing for two 3-year seats on the Wilmington Board of Selectmen in this year’s Saturday’s Town Election.
The six candidates recently took part in a debate, organized by Wilmington Community Television and sponsored by the Wilmington-Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce and Reading Cooperative Bank, at Wilmington High School. Town Moderator Rob Peterson served as the debate’s moderator, while a panel of local journalists asked the questions of the candidates.
While Wilmington Apple encourages each voter to watch the debate in full, below are some highlights. Please note that while Mr. Murphy was present at the debate, he choose not to respond to most questions, opting instead to “pass.”
Suzanne Sullivan: “…I was on the Board of Selectmen about 15 years ago. I ran then because things were wrong. Moms were concerned about the childhood cancer, the landfill, the Olin site, and the contaminated water. We hit walls. Those walls exist again today. The way the residents are dismissed, the conflicts of interests, the back-room dealings with the detox and redevelopment of the Olin site are my motivation for change. With lots of hard work, we did break through those walls 15 years ago. I think we can do it again…”
Greg Bendel: “Over the past three years, it’s been my honor to serve the residents of Wilmington on the Board of Selectmen. Having grown up in Wilmington, I’ve been afforded a lot of wonderful opportunities. In my adult life, I’ve made it a priority to give back to the community that raised me. Today, my wife Andrea and I are raising our two daughters in town as well. We are proud to be from Wilmington. I know that Wilmington is a place that prides itself on volunteerism. This is my small way of giving back to the community that I love. I’m proud of the work I’ve done on behalf of the residents…. I recognize that, like most communities, we have challenges that we face. I don’t claim to have all the answers. But what I do have is a willingness and a commitment to be part of the solutions and keep Wilmington moving forward.”
Kevin Caira: “Over the past three years, I’ve had the priviledge of serving on the Board of Selectmen. Last May, my colleagues on the board unanimously elected me as Chairman. Together, with the Town Manager, town employees, and scores of dedicated volunteers, we’ve worked hard to dedicate Wilmington’s best interests. Much has been accomplished over the past three years. We’ve built the town’s largest and most comprehensive recreational facility at the former Yentile Farm. We’ve expanded programs and services for the elderly and the young. We’re adding staff to meet the needs facing veterans and seniors. We hired the first substance abuse coordinator. We have renovated buildings, improved infrastructure, and are entering stages to improve the Butters Row Bridge, Woburn Street/Lowell Street intersection, and the Route 38 corridor. We’ve negotiated a Tax Increment Finance agreement with Analog Devices ensuring investments of $143 million in construction, adding 600 jobs, and making [the Wilmington site] its global headquarters. The town is in solid fiscal condition with low debt, strong reserves, and no reliance on onerous user fees, exemplifying why Wilmington remains one of New England’s most affordable communities…”
Rob Fasulo: “Let me start off by telling you what I am not. I’m not part of the Wilmington political machine and I don’t have the endorsement of those that are… I’m running for Selectman because, as a town, I believe we are on the wrong track. I want to end the appearance of backroom deals and conflicts of interest that have become business as usual in our Town Hall. I want to bring a voice of fairness and compromise to the board and put the residents first…”
Mark Maselli: “… I’m here tonight because I feel some of the decisions made for the town has not beneficial for everyone…. I’ve been raised by my mother to help others in a time of need. As a resident of this community, I feel my help is now needed. I might be the outsider here in this election, but it’s time for someone like me to be a new voice in our town government, for those who are tired of what we’re seeing and what positive changes that will benefit us all. I’m confident I can be that positive change for Wilmington and its residents.”
Do you feel the town is currently adequately represented by elected and appointed leaders, or do you think there’s a group or groups in town that receive preferential treatment?
Greg Bendel: “I’m disappointed to hear in a couple of the opening statements tonight that there’s this idea that there’s backroom deals going on. The only deals that I make are in Room 9 of Town Hall in front of cameras, the public, and – often – the police chief. I think it’s unfortunate that there’s been these suggestions otherwise… I try to treat everyone the same. I try to treat everyone with respect. I try to be professional. I take this job very seriously. I don’t claim to have the answers and I definitely don’t agree with everyone, but what I do is try to find common group with people when we disagree, and treat them with respect. I try to be a positive role model not only in my work life as a teacher, but in my personal and volunteer life…”
Kevin Caira: “I was also disappointed to hear the word ‘backroom deals’ and ‘conflicts of interest.’ It’s just not necessary. It’s not true. We’ve been very transparent. Room 9 is where we have our discussions. We meet with individuals and residents, we listen to their concerns, we deliberate, and we make decisions that our best for the community. We’ve been subject to public records requests. There’s 17 of them. We’ve been very transparent with them. We’ve had our cell phones asked for. Our computers asked for… It’s time for the attacks to stop. It’s time for the slander to stop. We have all those stuff on social media – it’s just ridiculous to be told we’re dealing with developers and taking money. It’s just gross. It’s a shame. It shouldn’t be done. There’s no proof. I’d like to see the proof. It’s just awful to hear this crap. I’m tried of it.”
Rob Fasulo: “Yes, I do believe there are different groups in town that are treated differently. On the one hand, you have the residents who are constantly berated by projects that don’t benefit anybody but certain people. One being 362 Middlesex Ave…. I’d like to respond to the request for proof, which I have here in this packet. Records requests are there to make sure we have a transparent government that we can trust… I have made public records requests. It’s no secret. Of the 3 that I made, there’s 3 notices of determination from the Secretary of State that the town was not abiding by them. And I have them here in this packet.”
Mark Maselli: “I feel for Kevin. Social media is brutal. I hate going on it. I rarely go on it. People create fake accounts and they attack each other. This is why I’m sitting here. When I told my mother I was running for office, she almost fell off her chair because I dislike politics… I enjoy talking with people. I enjoy being personable. I think [the board] needs a new outside voice. [Wilmington] is Beverly Hills to where I grew up. This is a beautiful little town. When I saw decisions made that weren’t right for everyone, that’s why I am here.”
Suzanne Sullivan: “I think it’s interesting that you have some people here saying there’s two different sets of rules and you have the people in power saying there aren’t a separate set of rules, I think that that speaks volumes. It’s exactly what I’ve been talking about – they’re not listening to us. We have concerns and we’re not being heard. They’re saying ‘we are listening,’ but they’re not listening to us. The fact that a Selectman sits in an Executive Session over a matter that a family member has a financial interest in does not scream that there’s not a conflict of interest and that the best interest of the citizens are being put forward. I’d like to know which interests he’s looking out for – his family’s interest or the interest of the town? These are real facts. Real things that have happened. And it’s a concern.
Kevin Caira: “First, on the notices of determination. We will not divulge attorney-client privilege because it has to do with the case. You can have that, but it won’t be released until it’s resolved. As for the accusation of a conflict of interest, I filed my disclosure form on that. There is no conflict of interest. I sat in on an update regarding Olin and New England Transrail. I had Special Counsel Dan Deutch allow me to sit in on that meeting. That was discussed with the attorney plus the Town Manager. All it was was an update on Olin. My brother is a consultant for a company called GFI. I have had no relationships with any development talks on that piece of property, so there is no conflict of interest. They may say what they want to say, but they’re all wrong.”
Should we change anything about the ways people are put on to Committees or are you satisfied by how these appointments work?
Kevin Caira: “I’m satisfied by how these appointments work. We have a lot of residents in this town that volunteer their time, effort and energy and they do an outstanding job. But they see the attacks on volunteers and on the Selectmen. We’re volunteers. We don’t get paid for what we do. They see these attacks and it turns them off and decide not to volunteer anymore. We’re losing good people because of that…”
Rob Fasulo: “I would like to see more of what’s currently appointed become elected… Have the people say who they want in those positions. Although it’s working the way we’re doing it now, I think it could work better…”
Mark Maselli: “I think it works good. I think the Selectmen do a pretty job picking people for the boards. I would keep it the same.”
Suzanne Sullivan: “I’ve evolved a bit on this year. Years ago, I thought the appointments were OK. But I think it’s time to start thinking about [more] elected positions. We should probably review our town charter and see if it actually works for the people of Wilmington today. I don’t think it should be up to us. We should ask the people. The Town Charter should be reviewed. We haven’t received it in a long time… I know people who are shocked when they find out the Planning Board isn’t elected… If the Planning Board makes a bad decision, [residents] have no recourse. The Board doesn’t answer to the residents, but to its appointing authority… We should think about a Town Charter Review Committee.”
Greg Bendel: “There’s arguments for both sides. I’d lean towards keeping it the way it is. I’m fearful that if we go to elected positions, when a difficult decision comes up, these board members could feel political pressure to vote one particular way. They may be thinking about being re-elected and not what’s in the best interest of the community. I’m really grateful for the close to 100 volunteers we have on different boards…”
What Is Your Position On The Proposed Detox Facility? What Is Your Position On The Lawsuit Filed Against The Town?
Rob Fasulo: “I made my position clear during the last election. I’m against the location. Right idea, wrong place. There’s other places in town that it could go. I’m not wavering on that decision… The lawsuit was based on discrimination. I stood in front of the Selectmen and asked them to have a discussion about an individual who was having a deciding factor on that case. Just to have a discussion on whether or not discriminatory statements he had made in a public forum were a concern for the town and the town counsel. They refused to go into Executive Session to discuss it amongst themselves…. I think it’s concerning.”
Mark Maselli: “I was against it. This should have been dealt with back in 2017 when the gentleman came to the town with the idea… We should have went to this guy and said, you want 48 beds, we’re going to find you a place for 96 beds. Doube it. We want to help these people in a bigger location somewhere better – to give them an opportunity to heal. And we still need a substation. We would tell him to help us out with our substation. We’d put it on the north-side. That should have been negotiated years ago…”
Suzanne Sullivan: “The detox was the right idea in the wrong place. I’ve been very local on that. As far as the lawsuit goes, I don’t think it was anything that was unexpected. We knew they were going to try to use the ADA to get it through and overrule our bylaws. I was very vocal about not allowing them to come in and overrule our bylaws, asking them for a chapter and verse of a law that allows it, which they would not do…. There were many things in information requests that we found that [indicated] there were a lot of back-room dealing at Town Hall on this project.”
Greg Bendel: “I think I’ve been consistent with my position, which is agreed upon by most in the community. I’m not opposed to a detox in Wilmington. I also support the right of a business to go through the regulatory process. In this case, it was various boards – Board of Health, Planning Board, and the Board of Appeals, where it was ultimately was denied. I think we all recognize we’re fighting a nationwide epidemic. Wilmington isn’t immune. As a member of the Board of Selectmen, I will support the denial of the Board of Appeals – those volunteers spent a lot of time on this case. I support their denial and I know the Town Counsel will see it through. It’s also important to point out that the Selectmen never voted on this case at 362 Middlesex Ave. It was up to the regulatory process.
Kevin Caira: “I do support a detox in Wilmington. It’s important to know that the Selectmen have no permitting or location authority. We do appoint the Zoning Board of Appeals members. It’s my feeling that it would have been a conflict of interest and inappropriate to go to those meetings and impose what we feel on the individuals we appoint… We can’t comment on the lawsuit because it’s ongoing. I support a detox in Wilmington. I don’t necessarily support it at the location that’s being proposed on 362 Middlesex Ave.”
What’s The Board Of Selectmen’s Role In Economic Development? How Will You Preserve The Town’s Character As The Town Grows?
Mark Maselli: “The Selectmen just appointed the last few members of the Economic Development Committee last night. The Selectmen should let that committee do its job and report to the Selectmen. I don’t think any Selectman should be on that committee… It’s a great committee. I’m sure they’ll put together some great ideas.”
Suzanne Sullivan: “The role of the board is to look at areas in town that might need some help with redevelopment like North Wilmington and with what they’ve done with the Route 38 corridor…. I think it’s OK for a Board member to sit on the Economic Development Committee as a representative of the board. I don’t think the Board has a significant role in redevelopment. They have to appoint someone to do that.”
Greg Bendel: “I’m a strong supporter of the Committee and am honored to be the Selectmen’s appointee to the Committee… We’ll have an opportunity to review our bylaws, take a look at the Route 38 study that we just had done by UMass, and to find out ways we can promote Wilmington and attract businesses so we can fill up some of those empty lots on Route 38. This group will work closely with our state delegation. I’ve always reached out to Rep. Robertson. I’ve also reached out to Tewksbury, who already has a committee, and they’re willing to share ideas.”
Kevin Caira: “We’ve established, first the first time, an Economic Development Committee. We also had Secretary Ash come, along with our legislative delegation to give us ideas on how to get going. The Donoghue Institute at UMass Boston did a study so the Economic Development Committee could take a look at that. We also want them to deal with other groups, including the one from Burlington that been very successful. The town needs to work collaboratively with everyone who wants to bring in a business. We need to look at zoning. We may need to look at a rezone of the Textron property in the future…”
Rob Fasulo: “I sat it on the Ash presentation. He came out and said that Economic Development Committee that don’t work… He suggested you give it to the people and let the people decide what types of businesses they want in town and would be willing to support. I don’t agree with the manner of how the Economic Development Committee was put together. I think it should have been more focused on the people living in town who are going to be supporting the businesses. I would commend the board for the TIF agreement [with Analog]. That was a really positive thing for the town.”
Greg Bendel: “Just to correct something previously mentioned, I believe the only two non-residents on the Economic Development Committee are the Town Manager and our Planning Director. All the others are Wilmington residents.”
What Does Successful Remediation At The Olin Site Look Like? Does Complete Remediation Of The Site Need To Take Place Before Any Reuse Begins? What Do You See As Some Appropriate Reuses For That Site?
Suzanne Sullivan: “To me, the ultimate success would be for us to turn our water back on. I don’t know if that’s possible…. We haven’t even gotten to the point where we’d know what that would look like after working 12 years with the EPA…. As far as the reuse of the site, I’d like to see something that’s beneficial to the town. Not something that’s going to generate 400 truck trips – that’s 800 trucks a day being proposed if it’s New England Transrail or GFI. That area cannot take that type of truck traffic. And then we have the Tresca site, which is equally as bad, with hundreds of trucks. This is going to be one major truck terminal. People who live in that area have been impacted enough. I think it’s terrible that the town hasn’t taken a proactive measure to correct the situation. I would like to see the Olin site rezoned to light general industrial and go from there…I don’t like the idea of a development coming forward before we even have a plan to clean that site up.”
Greg Bendel: “To me, a successful remediation would mean the site is completely cleaned up, and the residents in that area would no longer have to rely on bottled water. That’s totally unacceptable that a Wilmington resident needs to drink from a bottle of water – we want clean for those residents, they deserve that. That should be a basic human right. As far as what I’d like to see go there; whatever business proposed there will go through the regulatory process and I’m sure there will be a lot of public input… In just the short time I’ve been on the board, realizing this issue has been going on for more than 20 years, I’m proud we have written to our state and federal delegation and I’ve personally had conversations with Congressman Seth Moulton’s Office on this issue. I realize there are a lot of people working really hard on this. I was proud to invest town money to make sure we retained special town counsel Dan Deutch last summer when we moved to a new town counsel, so we’d have the best expert on this and wouldn’t skip a beat moving forward.”
Kevin Caira: “Along those lines, we also had meetings with Ed Markey’s Office on this issue. I’m in favor of a total clean-up of the site. I don’t know what would go over there for redevelopment. We’d be foolish to not think that site is going to be redevelopment at some point in time. I certainly don’t want transrail – with trains coming in and out of that area. I agree the residents of Cook Street should not be using bottled water and that does need to be a priority. That site needs to be cleaned up to its entirety in order to redevelop it.”
Rob Fasulo: “We have some very dedicated residents working on this site as volunteers. They need to be commended. They’re the ones that really got this pushed ahead with the EPA. They need to be recognized. As a civilian, you look at this and say – you can clean this up or you can’t. This is humongous. To get an idea of the size and scope, if you’re standing at the Town Park, you’re standing over the plume. I was floored when I heard that. How do you clean something like this up? Professionals know, that’s certainly not me. The containment area, which is currently leaking, that should be cleaned up. I agree with Sue that the property should be rezoned to something that will benefit the town and not having 300-400 trucks going in and out everyday.”
Mark Maselli: “In 2012, I had to sit in a hospital and listen to a doctor tell me and my wife that my son has leukemia. A compound got into my skin and my wife’s skin, or directly into my son. I spent the next 3.5 years learning about toxins. There’s a compound over there in the south ditch called benzene. It’s one of the known toxins that cause leukemia. I’m not an expert in cleaning it up, but the benzene is in the bedrock, which will never be cleaned up. The only ‘expert’ think I would do is give my son a syringe of chemo for 3 years. I would speak to the EPA about their clean-up methods, but benzene can spread into the air and in the dirt. I don’t think any surrounding towns would want us to spread any of that to their towns. There’s no amount of money this town could make in the future that I would risk anyone else going through what my son went through. I would cap the site and never build there again. And I would go after Olin for all the money this town lost in taxes and our water wells.”
Kevin Caira: “Mr. Fasulo mentioned it was residents that made this happen on the EPA’s Administrators Priority List, but actually it was Congressman Moulton along with the business community that did that.”
Do You Think The Town’s Current Free Cash Is Being Utilized Well Or Would You Like To See It Spent In Other Ways?
Suzanne Sullivan: “I think we have too much. Wilmington residents have been over-taxed. I understand we need free cash and we have a lot of projects, but I feel we’re being over-taxed. I would like to see the town buy some open space. We have very little land left in town, like Sciarappa’s Farm. I like the idea that Rob Fasulo came up with – giving the taxpayers a holiday for a year and not raise any taxes at all. For a year. Our taxes have gone up so much in the last five years, it’s almost mind-boggling. Some of that money is being put away in an account. I don’t mind paying taxes. I’ve never complained about paying taxes and I never will. But that free cash account is way too high. Close to $40 million. I’d rather see that in the people’s bank accounts than the town’s. I know we need free cash, but we don’t need that much.”
Greg Bendel: “Free cash is something I’ve really tried to understand during my term on the board. At this current point, I believe we have a healthy reserve. Something in the order of $26 million in reserves puts us in a good position to take on one of the capital improvement projects that everyone wants to see – whether it’s a fire substation, or renovations of the senior center, or a new Wildwood School, just to name a few. We’ll be in a position to tackle one of those projects without going back to the taxpayers for more money or an override, like we just saw in Tewksbury. It also gives us a healthy bond rating so when we’re borrowing we get the best possible rate… Each of the last 3 years I’ve been a Selectman, we’ve allocated funds for some articles from free cash, so were dipping into it when it makes sense. And we have a new firetruck in the works because of a reserve account that we didn’t need to go back to the taxpayers for.”
Kevin Caira: “Also, eventually the economy is going to have a downturn. It happened before in the early 2000’s and free cash became very important for the employees to keep their jobs and for the public not to pay user fees. It’s important we have a healthy free cash reserve. As for saying we shouldn’t have taxes, that sounds good politically, but it’s not good government. We need to continue to make sure we shift the burden on commercial/industrial and less on the residents as we’ve been doing. And we need to continue to have a conservative budgeting process.”
Rob Fasulo: “We have a free cash account at $26 million. We also have a capital reserve account that’s up at about $11 million. That’s just another word for free cash. So it’s up about $38-$39 million. Give the residents a 1-year break on rising taxes. We’re pushing the elderly out of town. We’re pushing the young out of town. Let’s give one year in no movement of taxes. I understand we have a debt exclusion and the taxes are going to rise anyway because of that, but let’s just give them a break on the other side.”
Mark Maselli: “I agree with Greg and Mr. Caira. Running a business, your expenses go up everywhere. To cut taxes for everyone for a year, the town would have to then decide what to cut. Your losing income. You still have insurance to pay. Pensions to pay. Insurance is always going up…. It would be great to have that money when we need it for future projects. Kudos to Jeff and the board for controlling that.”
Greg Bendel: “One of the first conversations I had when elected in 2016 was when the Town Accountant. It sounds great politically to say we’re going to have a 0% tax increase next year, but in order to do that, you have to put a 0% tax increase to the commercial side, not just the residential. So means there would be zero [new] revenue coming into the town for that year. I would hate to see what the bill would look like the next year! You’d also have to be willing to cut services somewhere and potentially layoffs. That’s not something I want to do. I’m looking to increase the fire department’s personnel so we can cut into that OT budget. I don’t want to be laying off firefighters, police officers and, potentially, teachers.”
Rob Fasulo: “First of all, you don’t just shut off taxes. You cap it where it’s at. Last I knew, there’s 70 open building permits in town. If all those go online, you’re talking about another $500,000 in revenue. It does mean tightening our belt a little bit, but the residents deserve it. It’s not an end-of-the-world scenario. It’s a 1-year reprieve from rising taxes. That’s it.”
Where Do You Stand On A New Fire Substation, A New Senior Center, and A New Town Hall/School Administration Building?
Greg Bendel: “I’ve been very public in my support for a North Wilmington fire substation. I think the safety of the residents are up there is vital. It’s overdue that we take on that project. It has the lowest price tag [of the projects]. We’ve identified some places up in North Wilmington where we can have that. And we have the personnel to transfer them over so we’re not adding costs of hiring more firefighters. I think that’s important and my #1 priority. I also think you can get consensus from the community on that… The Senior Center is robust and over-populated. We have such a wonderful senior population that’s outgrown that facility, which was built in 1935. I think it needs to be renovated. I’m not in favor of a Town all at this point. I think there are other more important needs such as the Wildwood School. We can’t wait for that school to fall down. Those are my top three projects and I’m glad we have funds in reserves so we can tackle these projects moving forward.”
Kevin Caira: “We need to begin by having a meeting with the Facilities Master Plan Committee, the School Committee, the Selectmen, and the community. We should have an open forum to discuss where we want to go and what path we want to take. I’d like to see us with a new elementary school first, and then on to the Senior Center and Substation. That’s my take on it. But it’s like a puzzle. Some people say we should build a new Town Hall/School Admin building. Obviously the Roman House needs to be decommissioned. It’s a nice old house, but certainly isn’t a place for our school admin to be. Do we build a new Town Hall first, then take the Wildwood students and put them where the Town Hall is while the new Wildwood is being built. There’s a lot of discussions that need to take place. Certainly an elementary school, senior center and substation would be my top three.”
Rob Fasulo: “I do not support a new Town Hall. The substation I’ve supported since the last election. It’s not a very difficult project to undertake. I also believe the schools should be addressed before anything else. I understand the Wildwood School is in really bad shape and needs to be addressed. I’ve suggested the Senior Center be built by a private developer in exchange for consideration of the land next to St. Dorothy’s Church. It’s a way the town can get a new Senior Center for little to no money under the building of a private developer.”
Mark Maselli: “The substation is way overdue. They should have included it when Fiorenza Drive was built or squeezed it in with Target years ago. The Town Hall/School Admin building has land available at the old Swain site. You could get that one moving right away. Then you could have a Senior Center down by the old Town Hall. Develop it there, with a nice field already there for the seniors. For the substation, I would still try to talk with Mr. Kneeland, see what he has up there, and try to work out some type of deal.”
Suzanne Sullivan: “I, too, am not in favor of a Town Hall. I think we should consider consolidating some of the schools. We have close to $100 million in costs associated with the school [buildings]. Those schools were in sad shape when my children went there a long time ago. We need to address the schools. People have been asking for that for a long time. I think we can consolidate grades and once there’s done, maybe we can move the Town Hall over to the Woburn Street School. I am in favor of doing some work at the Senior Center, but I’m not so sure I’m in favor of building a whole new Senior Center. I’m not in favor of moving anything into the Swain School area because that will be a deathblow to the 4thof July activities. I also think that the library needs some work too and we need an addition to that. That’s been a long time coming and I’d like to see that somehow get on the fast track. We have a lot of stuff to do in town! We need to start dong something. The fire substation has been lingering since I’ve been on the board 15 years ago. It’s shocking we haven’t done anything there yet. We could also maybe partner with Tewksbury with their substation on Main Street and work something out with them in the interim.”
Selectmen also tackled questions surrounding a potential future library building project, avoiding a potential future 40B, and a proposal from the Governor to make zoning change easier.
Bendel, Caira, Fasulo, and Sullivan would be OK with the Board of Selectmen be renamed to the Select Board. Maselli would like it to remain the same.
Sullivan and Fasulo support the upcoming town plastic bag ban. Bendel and Caira noted they voted against the ban. Maselli is indifferent towards the issue.
Caira is a fan of Game of Thrones, having binge watched the first 7 seasons while recuperating from knee surgery. The other candidates don’t watch the show or watch it casually.
Suzanne Sullivan: “Marjory Stoneham Douglas said ‘Be depressed, discouraged and disappointed at failures, at the disheartening effects of ignorance, corruption and bad politics, but never give up.’ I never give up. I promise I will defend the quality of life of the residents. I’m a fighter. I will fight for our neighborhoods. I will promise to defend the town and its bylaws over any special interest. I will ensure transparency and inclusion. I will vigorously defend that a cleanup plan be approved before any development of the Olin Superfund Site. I will advocate to ensure that the denial vote from the ZBA for the detox gets properly defended in court. I want to develop an economic plan for North Wilmington with emphasis on what the residents want. And I want to make the elementary schools a priority before other capital improvement projects. I’m a hard worker. I do my homework. I’m not afraid to speak up when it’s needed.”
Greg Bendel: “I want to continue volunteering for the Wilmington Board of Selectmen. I’m proud of the things I’ve done to give back to my community. I’ve been a strong supporter of our schools, police and fire, and all the top notch services we provide to residents in town. I’ve been proud in supporting the higher of a substance abuse and mental health coordinator that can help residents in need. I’ve supported planned infrastructure projects to help with traffic and attract new businesses to town. I supported the town’s first ever TIF agreement with Analog Devices to help bring commercial tax revenue back to the residents and create new jobs. I’ve been an advocate for fixing up some of our unaccepted roads… I’ve supported the creation of an Economic Development Committee. I look forward to the building of a new North Wilmington fire substation to help residents in that part of town stay safe. I’m proud to have supported seniors and veterans at every turn. Most of all, I’m proud of the way I’ve done these things. I’ve listened to you and done my research for you. I’ve made my decisions based on what I feel is best for all the residents in town. I’m proud of the way I’ve conducted myself and treated others with respect. I recognize I respect a new younger generation of public officials. I’m standing on the shoulders of hundreds of volunteers who have come before me. My hope is that I’ll inspire more young people to get involved and keep Wilmington moving forward…”
Kevin Caira: “I believe each one of us has an obligation to help our community. That sense of responsibility was instilled in me by my parents. When I first sought public office, I did so because my experience in government service and my many years of volunteer service would enable me to have a positive influence on the direction of our community. Some people would have you believe that Wilmington is a dreadful place to live. Not me. In my mind, there’s no better community in which to raise a family. No doubt we have challenges like every other town, but I believe most residents believe as I do that the glass is half full. It’s important that we continue to elect leaders that prioritize good government over good politics. Leaders that prefer results over credit. Leaders that acknowledge the fact that misrepresentations, half-truths, and demeaning and derogatory comments serve no public purpose. Leaders that believe that emotion and passion contribute to a healthy debate as long as such debate is based in facts and measured by tolerance and civility. I don’t have all the answers. Be wary of the person who says they do. What I do have is an honest and sincere desire to continue my commitment to serve you as Selectman. I hope you’ll consider me on April 27.”
Rob Fasulo: “This year our election choices are very different from election choices we’ve faced as a town in the past. We have 2 very clear, different paths to choose from. The path that Suzanne and I offer led to a path of fair and impartial government with minimal conflicts. Our path puts every resident, regardless of status in the community, on a level playing field. Our path will lead to a truly open and transparent government because we understand to have a true democracy, it’s important the public taken an equally active role in oversight, which results in trust in our authority. We have a vision of Wilmington that includes open space and natural resource areas that residents can enjoy while taking a smart approach at development. My vision for Wilmington is to make it a destination town – a place people want to visit, patronize our businesses, eat good food, attend youth sporting events, and go home saying ‘what a wonderful town.’ Your other choice has been laid out for you for the past three years. As a result, today we struggle with empty storefronts, heavy traffic, rising taxes and dwindling open space, with a hodge podge approach to development. Simply put, Wilmington lacks vision. It’s time to step back and ask what’s the best course for our community? Our town needs an infusion of new blood, new ideas, and new leadership. Bold decisions will need to be made. I’d be honored to be on the front line of this fight for you…”
Mark Maselli: “Everything we do in life is a reflection of ourselves. The way we treat others, the way we raise our children, every decision we make in our everyday life – that’s something I preach to the kids who work for me and that’s how I try to live my life. As a common citizen in Wilmington looking into all the decisions that have been made, these decisions create perceptions. People’s perceptions are their realities. The perception of small town politics being corrupt or having favoritism is, in my opinion, why so many residents don’t bother to come out to vote in town elections. ‘They can’t be beat’ is something I keep hearing. It’s not about who is most well-known, or popular, or how long they’ve been serving this town, but who can bring the best voice to our town and stand up best for the interests of our citizens. I believe I’m that person. We have roughly 16,000 registered voters in the town. Last election, 16% showed up… As a Selectman, I’m not going to give you the old political song and dance to the issues here in town when asked about them. I’ll give you direct open answers to your questions. I’m hoping someone like myself can rejuvenate some new voters to come out and vote for a new voice like myself….”
Watch the full debate, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below:
(NOTE: The cover photo is from Wilmington Community Television.)
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