A VOTER’S GUIDE To Selectman Candidate Greg Bendel

WILMINGTON, MA — Greg Bendel is one of the six candidates competing for two 3-year Selectmen seats in this Saturday’s Town Election.

Below are Bendel’s Closing Argument; his Q&A’s with Wilmington Apple; links to his supporters’ letters to the editor; the full video of the WCTV debate he participated in; his interviews with WCTV (video) and the Town Crier (written); and more.

Closing Argument

Dear Fellow Residents:

For the past three years I have had the honor of serving the residents of Wilmington as a member of the Board of Selectmen and I would like the opportunity to continue volunteering as a member of the board for the next three years. I grew up in Wilmington and have been the beneficiary of a lot of the wonderful things Wilmington has to offer. As an adult I have made it a point to give back to the community I love in any way that I can. I want to continue to represent residents in the same positive and respectful way that I always have. I am proud of the things that we have done over the past three years, but we still have much more to do. I recognize that like most communities in Massachusetts we have challenges that lie ahead, and we all know what they are. I want to be part of the solution to these challenges and I know that working together we can do more.

When I first ran for Selectman, Andrea and I had no children. Two years later we are blessed with two beautiful daughters, Charlotte and Grace. They have given me a new perspective and have reaffirmed and even elevated, my commitment in working to ensure that Wilmington remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family

It is an honor to serve the residents of Wilmington on the Board of Selectmen and it is a role I take very seriously.  I take great pride in the way that I conduct myself and I like to believe that I lead by example. I am always willing to listen to others and never look to tear anyone down regardless if we differ in opinion. I have always been polite and treated others with respect, values that my parents instilled in me at a young age.

I have been incredibly lucky to have the support of so many of my friends and neighbors. I can’t tell you how much your encouragement has inspired me over the past few years. Families have welcomed me into their homes, invited me to speak at different events and even held a rally on my behalf. I am thankful for everyone who has reached out to me via the phone and email and grateful for the two hundred homes and businesses who have requested to put a sign on their lawn. I really appreciate all the people who have stood out in the cold and held signs, despite the recent wet weather.

Like most things in life, I know that very little gets done working alone. I believe that I have proven to be a team player and I look forward to continue working with others to get things done and keep the town moving forward in a positive direction. Our residents deserve nothing less. I humbly request you consider me for one of your two votes for a three-year term on the Wilmington Board of Selectmen this coming Saturday, April 27th. For more information about my candidacy and to find out where I stand on the major selectmen issues, please visit gregbendel.com.

Thank you,

Greg Bendel

On The Issues (Q&A’s with Wilmington Apple)

Is the Town of Wilmington heading in the right direction? Explain.

Do I believe Wilmington is headed in the right direction? Yes, I do. Wilmington is a great place to live and we are fortunate to be able to offer something for everyone who lives here. Like many communities we do have challenges that we face. But, I believe that with the combination of a good Town Administration, countless volunteers and residents who are engaged in local government, we are prepared to face these challenges head on. First and for most Wilmington is a safe place for us to live thanks to the brave men and woman of our police and fire departments who work tirelessly day and night to keep us safe.

For years Wilmington has taken a very fiscally conservative approach to budgeting which has resulted in a consistently strong bond rating, a healthy reserve in our rainy day accounts and we continue to be a great position when it comes to borrowing. Unlike most of the surrounding towns we have been able to offer many services to residents without additional fees such as free all day kindergarten, no fees for trash and recycling, no school transportation fees, no athletic user fees, top notch veteran, DPW and senior services in addition to a strong public school system.

The current challenges we face are clear and I believe we have a plan to confront each one going forward. There are many areas in which we can improve on, and by working together and continuing to take proactive approaches to challenges, I’m confidant that we will keep moving forward successfully.

Describe your past & present involvement with Wilmington’s town government (e.g., any appointed or elected positions, serve on any committees?) AND in the Wilmington community (e.g., volunteerism with non-profits, churches, schools, youth sports, etc.).

One of the best things about Wilmington is that everyone does their part to get involved and volunteer their time in one way or another. I grew up in Wilmington and have been the beneficiary of a lot of the wonderful things Wilmington has to offer. As an adult I have made it a point to give back to the community I love in anyway I can. In addition to my full time job as a teacher and a coach at Shawsheen Tech, I am a proud member of the Wilmington Knights of Columbus. I was proud to work with the Local Heroes organization for may years packaging gifts for our brave troops stationed around the world. In 2011 I volunteered for the Wilmington 4.0 Committee with the goal of bringing a new Wilmington High School to town. I am an active member of the Shawsheen Tech Alumni Association’s Alumni Committee. I volunteered for the Wilmington Housing Authority from 2011-2016 and served as the board’s chairman from 2014-2016. During that time I worked with others to oversee Wilmington’s state run affordable housing, which is mostly located at Demming Way.

In 2016 I was elected to the Wilmington Board of Selectmen where I have volunteered since. In my time as a Selectmen, I was proud to be a small part of the Wilmington Public School’s 2018 Superintendent Search Screening Committee and I was recently appointed to the town’s new Economic Development Committee which aims to promote Wilmington as a great place to operate a business. Over the years, I have volunteered for many local organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, the Wilmington Rotary Club, the Wilmington Relay for Life and the Brady Foundation to name a few. My wife and I take great pride in attending as many of the major events in town and helping out in anyway we can. As new parents, I look forward to volunteering in new ways like in the schools and in youth sports, just as my parents did before me.

Do you/did you support the construction of a detox facility at 362 Middlesex Avenue? Why or why not? What do you say to residents who strongly disagree with your position?

Over the past year I have heard arguments for and against this particular project. I listened carefully to different points of view, and watched all of the Board of Appeals meetings very closely to stay informed. It is important to note that as the appointing authority of the Board of Appeals, any lobbying of the Board of Appeals members by a Selectman could undermine the Board of Appeals’ decision. It could also put the Town at risk of a lawsuit by the applicant.

In general, I support the right of any proposed business that wants to come to Wilmington to go through the Town’s regulatory process. In the case of the proposed detox facility, the regulatory process included a review by numerous Town departments and public hearings before the Planning Board and the Board of Appeals, so that residents could give their input or voice concerns, and of course give the applicant the chance to state their case. The application for 362 Middlesex Ave was ultimately denied by the Board of Appeals and as their appointing authority, I support their decision. To those residents who disagree with my approach, and to those who agree, I would say the same thing. If the Board’s decision is challenged by the applicant, I will defend the Board of Appeals decision in consultation with counsel.

In September, the Wilmington Memorial Library hosted a month-long series of programs on civility to address a growing lack of civility in today’s society. In his latest newsletter, Town Manager Jeff Hull called for more civility in town when discussing controversial topics. If elected, what will you do to create more civility in Wilmington — online, at meetings, and in the community overall?

On August 13th 2018, I was proud to vote for the signing of a proclamation to declare September 2018 “Revive Civility Month” in the Town of Wilmington. We live in an time where we need more civility in our country. If re-elected I will continue to do my part by being a positive role model for others. It is an honor to serve the residents of Wilmington on the Board of Selectmen and it is a role I take very seriously.  I take great pride in the way that I conduct myself and I like to believe that I lead by example. I am always willing to listen to others and never look to tear anyone down regardless if we differ in opinion. I have always been polite and treated others with respect, values that my parents instilled in me at a young age.  I have and will continue to encourage others to exercise civility so that we can work together to keep moving Wilmington forward.

What do you feel should be Wilmington’s next TWO municipal or school building projects? Why do you prioritize these two projects over other projects?

I believe that Wilmington’s next two future municipal building projects should be the construction of a North Wilmington Fire Sub Station and the construction of a new Buzzell Senior Center. A North Wilmington Sub Station is vital to the safety of the residents who live in that area. Specifically for those residents who live north of the train tracks, decreased response times could be the difference between life and death. Our Senior Center is bursting at the seams, and currently space is very limited. Built in 1935 as the Buzzell School, the current building is only 8,308 square feet in size and does not have room for all of the robust programs we currently offer and the facility lacks adequate parking. As our population gets older, participation at the Senior Center is growing rapidly and we have outgrown our current Senior Center. I believe we need to create the new and larger Senior Center that our senior population deserves. If I had a very close third choice, it would be the construction of a new Wildwood Elementary School. Built in 1955, it is the oldest of all of our schools, and our students will someday need to a new elementary school. This issue will need to be addressed in the very near future as well. I recognize that these projects will cost money, but they are crucial to our town’s future and we are fortunate that Wilmington has done a good job of preparing for capital improvement projects like these by putting money away in reserve accounts. These reserve accounts will allow us to take on a major project like one of these with very little or perhaps no added costs to residents.

Are there any articles on this year’s Annual Town Meeting Warrant (https://www.wilmingtonma.gov/sites/wilmingtonma/files/uploads/2019_atm_warrant.pdf) that you currently plan to vote against? If so, which articles and why? And what ONE article would you most wish to bring to the attention of voters and ask that they support? 

There are many important articles on this year’s Town Meeting Warrant. I encourage all residents to attend our annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 5th which will be held in the Joanne Benton Auditorium located within Wilmington High School. The Town Manger has determined that the proposed land in Article #46 is not surplus land and therefore should not be sold. I look forwarded to hearing more about the other petitioned articles from residents and having the opportunity to ask questions to the petitioners. I look forward to hearing the recommendations from the Finance Committee and the Planning Board on the petitioned articles as well. The article which I would encourage voters to support is our annual town budget which is Article #5. It is crucial that our town budget is passed so that we can continue to fund all of the services we provide to residents. Funding for our Police & Fire Departments, our School Department, DPW and all of our Human Services Departments depend on passage of Article #5.

If you are elected, what are at least three big things that you hope to accomplish during your 3 years on the board? How would you accomplish these things?

If re-elected the first thing I would do is maintain the level of civility that I have displayed since day one in office. Residents elected me to make tough decisions, sometimes decisions that some will disagree with. Those residents deserve to be treated with the same respect, regardless if we differ in opinion. I take great pride in knowing that I have always treated people with respect and I believe I have been a positive role model for others. I will continue to do what I believe is best for all of the people of our town, listen to residents feedback and make informed decisions, just as I have for the past three years. Like most things in life, I know that very little gets done working alone. I have proven to be a team player and I look forward to continue working with others to get things done and keep the town moving forward in a positive direction. Our residents deserve nothing less.

I would continue to be a strong advocate for conservative budgeting.  Massachusetts is an expensive place to live and Wilmington is no different. What makes us different is that we budget conservatively, spend wisely and save for the future. I want us to continue these things so that we can keep providing excellent services to the residents at no additional costs. Unlike most surrounding towns we do not pay fees for all day kindergarten, trash pickup, transportation to school and participation in athletics, just to name a few. Our residents get top notch services from our Elderly Services Department, Veteran Services Department, Recreation Department as well as our Library.  The DPW does a great job of plowing our streets and keeping all of our parks clean in addition to so much more. Here in Wilmington we are fortunate to have the finest Police and Fire Departments around that keep us safe each and every day. I want to help maintain all of these high level services. Additionally, our savings in reserve accounts will position us to take on a large capital improvement project such as a North Wilmington Sub Fire Station, a new Wildwood Elementary School or a new Senior Center with little or no additional impact on residents. We have positioned our selves well to tackle whatever project the residents see fit to start planning for next.

I plan to continue to be an advocate for upcoming infrastructure projects in our town. I voted to support three major infrastructure projects that will help with traffic issues and make some of our main roads more attractive to new businesses. The entire stretch of Rt. 38 from the Rt. 62 bridge to the Woburn line is being redone, the Butters Row Bridge is scheduled to be redone, and the intersection of Woburn Street and Lowell Street is scheduled to be redone, all in the next five years. Each of these projects are being paid for largely with state and federal money. I will continue to advocate for improving our roads and creating ways for residents who live on unaccepted ways to have thee opportunity to have their roads improved too. I will continue to support efforts to improve conditions at our North Wilmington Train Station. These are all examples of concerns that I have heard from residents over the past few years and I plan to continue addressing residents concerns going forward. I plan on accomplishing these things by working together with other elected officials, town employees and residents.

If you would like to find out more about my candidacy please visit gregbendel.com.

What grade would you give to Town Manager Jeff Hull for his performance over the past year? Why? Are you looking for a change in leadership at Town Hall?

As a school teacher myself, I know that grades are not given, they are earned. Like all of us, myself included, there is always room for improvement. I know for a fact that our Town Manager puts in very long hours everyday and sometimes on weekends too. I would give our manager high praise for his work ethic and conservative budgeting. During our last negotiations with the manager I believe we came to a another conservative agreement which also includes a performance evaluation tool that the town never had before. Admittedly, the manager and I have had some disagreements over certain issues, but they have always been civil and we have always treated each other with respect. I have seen first hand that being the Town Manager is not an easy job and requires juggling many balls at once. I have also learned that the manger has an unbelievable staff that work with him behind the scenes everyday. The people who work in Town Hall and for our town departments are very hard working people who are extremely dedicated to our town. Without their help, the manager would not achieve the same successes he does now. Running a town requires a total team effort and the manager is just one part of that team. I believe the team of people we the residents have assembled are working very hard on our behalf, I support them, and they deserve high marks.

If you would like to find out more about my candidacy, please visit gregbendel.com.

(Editor’s Note: The above questions were submitted by readers. Each candidate was given the same amount of time each week to answer. These answers were previously published on Wilmington Apple over the past two months.)

Letters To The Editor/Endorsements

Watch The Debate

Candidate Conversation with WCTV

Wilmington Town Crier Candidate Profile

Campaign Announcement/Other

Candidate’s Website & Social Media

Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.

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