A VOTER’S GUIDE To Selectman Candidate Kevin Caira

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

Below are Caira’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

I believe that 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 I believed my experience in government service and my many years of volunteer activity would enable me to be a positive influence on the direction of our community.

For the past three years, I have been privileged to serve as a member of Wilmington’s 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 have worked hard to represent Wilmington’s best interests.

Much has been accomplished over the past three years. We built the Town’s largest and most comprehensive recreational facility at the former Yentile Farm. We expanded program offerings and services for the elderly and the young. We are adding staff to meet the critical needs facing our veterans and seniors and we hired the Town’s first ever Substance Abuse Coordinator. We have renovated buildings, improved infrastructure, and entered into the planning stage for improvements to the Butters Row Bridge, the Woburn Street/Lowell Street intersection, and the Route 38 corridor.

We negotiated a Tax Increment Finance agreement with Analog Devices, ensuring its investment of 143 million dollars in new construction and the addition of 600 employees to what will now be 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.

In spite of all of this, some people would have you believe that Wilmington is a dreadful place in which to live. Not me. In my mind, there is no better community in which to raise a family. No doubt we have challenges like every other Town, but I believe that most of Wilmington’s residents believe as I do: that the glass is half full.

It is 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 misrepresentation, 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 grounded in facts and measured by tolerance and civility.

I don’t have all the answers; be wary of the person that says they do. What I do have is an honest and sincere desire to continue my commitment of service to you as your Selectman. I hope that you will give me that consideration.

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

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

Yes, I believe the Town is headed in the right direction. I believe that everyone can agree that Wilmington is a great community in which to live and raise a family. The reason for this, in large measure, is that residents have readily volunteered their time and resources for the betterment of our community. We have been able to provide a wide range of quality programs and services without the imposition of burdensome fees. The Town continues to receive high marks both for its affordability and fiscal responsibility. The Town’s bond rating remains at its highest level, our tax rate is comparable and in some cases, lower than similar communities, and we have built a substantial operational and capital reserve to enable the Town to meet future needs without having to rely on prop 2 ½ overrides. Additionally, we have a low debt burden and we are among a small number of communities addressing long term liability issues such as employee retirement and other post employee benefits (OPEB).

The town continues to improve on its provision of services in every facet of government including public safety, education and public works. We have been recognized on numerous occasions for the quality services provided by our library, veterans’ services, recreation, building maintenance and elderly services departments. An examination of the new fiscal year budget testifies to the Town’s solid financial footing and supports an expansion of important municipal services.

Like all communities, the Town has many issues to deal with, but unlike many communities, the Town is well prepared to tackle these issues and to do so in the best interests of all Wilmington residents.

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.).

I am proud of the fact that my entire family has been immersed in the volunteer network of our community. As for me, I am completing my first term as a member on the Wilmington Board of Selectmen. Currently, I serve as the Board’s Chairman, having been unanimously elected by my colleagues. While on the Board, I served as a member of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee. As Chairman, I am serving on a committee with our legislative delegation, various Town Department Managers and MBTA representatives to address issues at the North Wilmington Train Station that effect public safety.

I served the Town as Vice Chairman of the Yentile Farm Recreational Development Committee and as Vice Chairman of the Nine Cross Street Fundraising Committee. It is also worth noting that the Yentile Recreational Facility recently received two major awards; the first in Engineering Excellence, receiving the Silver Award given by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts and the second being the 2019 Massachusetts Recreation and Park Associations Design of Facility Agency Award. Congratulations to my fellow committee members on this achievement. I am a founding member and Vice Chairman of the Wildcat Athletic Alumni and Friends Association and serve as its fundraising coordinator to provide funding for Wilmington High School Athletic programs. Other volunteer activities have included coaching in the Wilmington Little League, Senior League and summer baseball programs. I served as a volunteer basketball coach for the Wilmington Recreation Department and with the department, initiated a new basketball program for high school juniors and seniors. I also coached Wilmington High School football and softball.

I have been a longtime supporter of the Wilmington Band Parents programs, a member of the Wilmington Knights of Columbus and the former president of the Wilmington Sons of Italy, where I spearheaded numerous programs and fundraising drives in support of many important Town initiatives. Currently I serve as the Chairman of the Wilmington Sons of Italy Roncalli Trust, which has contributed over one million dollars to various charitable endeavors including supporting numerous Town projects and programs. My organizational and leadership skills have resulted in my election to many prominent positions in the Sons of Italy including that of State President, National Vice President, and currently National President of the Commission for Social Justice. I am proud to have been instrumental in securing a grant from the Italian Consulate for Wilmington High School to reestablish the Italian language program as a part of its curriculum.
I believe that each one of us has an obligation to help our community. I am honored and privileged to be given that opportunity to serve Wilmington as a member of the Board of Selectmen, and I encourage residents to reach out to me with their questions or concerns via my phone number (978-657-7734) or email address (kevincaira57@gmail.com).

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?

I did not support the construction of the proposed detoxification center at 362 Middlesex Avenue. I support the decision of the Board of Appeals to deny the permit and, in concurrence with my colleagues on the Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager, have authorized Town Counsel to defend the Town against any appeal of that decision.

Do I believe that the Town would benefit from a fully certified medical facility for the treatment of individuals suffering from addiction…the answer is yes. I also believe in a fair and impartial governmental process that thoroughly considers any applicant’s proposal based upon its merits and in consideration of the impact such proposal would have on a neighborhood. I believe that this proposal was worthy of consideration and I applaud the applicant for his transparency, town boards and officials for their due diligence, and residents for their passion and willingness to participate in the governmental process. What was disappointing to me, however, was the eagerness of some to politicize what should have been an issue determined on its merits and not on its politics.

As elected officials, we have the responsibility to make lawful decisions that are beneficial to the Town, and in doing so, must give full consideration to the will of the residents. Although the Special Town Meeting rezoning merely shifted the “problem across the street” and did not eliminate the proposed site from consideration, it did make clear that the overwhelming number of residents attending the meeting opposed the siting of a detoxification center near to a residential neighborhood. The Board of Appeals gave due consideration to the sentiments of the neighbors and in the end, the process worked.

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?

I will continue to conduct myself both in public and in private as I have all my life, civil in tone, respectful of others and tolerant of a wide variety of opinion. I applaud the Library Director and the Town Manager for raising this important issue and speaking out for the need to reintroduce civility in the public domain. The best way to create more civility in Wilmington is to lead by example and to treat others in the same manner as you would want to be treated.

Frankly, I have neither the time nor the desire to spend endless hours trolling the internet and offering demeaning and derogatory comments that serve no public purpose. I prefer calm and thoughtful discussion rather than vitriolic hyperbole. I believe that disagreement is healthy as long as it is not contentious. I prefer to rely on fact finding and openness rather than rumors and accusations. I was appalled to learn that a candidate for local public office referred to local officials as “expletives” and commented that a local official who was beat up by a colleague “deserved it.” This is not the example that we should be setting for the next generation of leaders.

I believe that emotion and passion can be a part of healthy debate as long as such debate is grounded in facts and measured by tolerance and civility. Recently, I ran into a resident who, while supporting another candidate, praised me for the way in which I have conducted meetings as Chairman of the Board. He said he appreciated that I kept order to the meetings without denying individuals’ rights to speak even when the comments were entirely negative. Maybe I won’t have that person’s vote, but at least I have his respect. As much as I want to be re-elected, having that respect is far more important. It is incumbent upon all of us to be respectful and tolerant of each other and to acknowledge that everyone’s opinion is worthy of consideration. That is the recipe for civility and I pledge that my conduct as a member of the Board of Selectmen will continue to exemplify the values that were instilled in me by my parents.

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?

The Town has prepared a Municipal Facility Master Plan that outlines various building options for the Town to consider over the next 20-30 years. The plan involves recommendations for both school and municipal buildings. I concur with the conclusion to discontinue the use of the Wildwood School and believe that in its place a new elementary school should be built. Additionally, upgrades should be made to the other four elementary schools. This would result in placing pre K to grade 5 students in appropriate configurations among the five schools and would enable the Town to repurpose the use of the Boutwell School.

On the Municipal side, I believe it is time to construct a fire substation in North Wilmington. This year’s operational budget includes funds for eight additional firefighters which would enable the Town to move closer to adequately staffing both the central and any new substation.

The Town also needs to consider consolidating Town and School administrative operations into one multipurpose municipal facility. This facility would allow all school and municipal offices to be housed in a central location and eliminate the woefully inadequate Roman House. The current Town Hall could be revitalized for another purpose such as a recreation or a senior center.

The plans may be ambitious, but the positive news is that the Town has built substantial capital reserves, nearly $35 million, which could be used to assist in financing new construction.

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? 

At present there are no articles on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant that I plan to vote against. I am awaiting surplus determinations from the Town Manager and recommendations from the Planning Board and Finance Committee on the four petitioned articles.

The one article that I would urge residents to support at Town Meeting is Article 41 relative to Inclusionary Zoning. Passage of this article would expand and diversify the Town’s housing stock, increase the supply of affordable housing and assist the Town in maintaining its 10% affordable housing inventory.

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?

First and foremost I would continue my efforts to address the Town’s economic health by continuing the Town’s successful policy of conservative budgeting. Ensuring that we have adequate resources enables the Town to meet its present and future obligations including those expenses that may be extraordinary or unforeseen. I would continue to insist that we maintain substantial operational and capital reserves, continue our policy of paying down long term liabilities, maintain a low debt burden and resist any attempt to impose onerous fees. This fiscal course of action will enable the Town to begin to finance the capital building proposals outlined in the Facilities Master Plan with limited impact on the taxpayer.

In furtherance of the Town’s fiscal health, Selectmen helped to craft a Tax Increment Finance agreement with its largest employer and taxpayer, Analog Devices. This first of its kind agreement undertaken by the Town, ensures Analog’s investment of $143 million in new construction. Analog will bring 600 new employees to Wilmington, in what will now be its global headquarters. Selectmen have established an economic development committee to address similar opportunities to attract and retain clean manufacturing businesses and desirable retail stores and restaurants. I will continue to work with representatives from Textron and any other owner of underutilized or vacant commercial properties.

Second, we need to focus on providing appropriate affordable housing opportunities that meet the needs of a diverse population. That is why I support Article 41 on this year’s Annual Town Meeting Warrant relative to inclusionary zoning. Passage of this article would expand and diversify the Town’s housing stock, increase the supply of affordable housing and assist the Town in maintaining its 10% affordable housing inventory. I applaud the collaborative efforts of business and Town leaders to craft a practical and workable solution which when implemented will enable the Town to make substantial strides in meeting critical housing goals for both the senior and non-senior populations.

A third area to address would be traffic and public safety. I am proud to have initiated the proposal which resulted in the State’s agreement to fund the Butters Row Bridge Improvement project. This successful effort was accomplished in large measure due to neighborhood outreach galvanizing strong support in our efforts to convince the Department of Transportation to undertake this important project. We have also received commitments from the Commonwealth to make improvements to the Woburn Street/Lowell Street intersection and the Route 38 corridor. Efforts are also underway to address the problems faced by residents who live on unaccepted ways.

We are working with MBTA officials and our legislative delegation to ensure public safety at the North Wilmington Train crossing. We also continue to actively oppose any redirection of traffic to Wilmington roadways in conjunction with the City of Woburn’s Ledges housing project.

I am also in support of the Town Manager and Finance Committee proposal to hire eight additional firefighters to reduce overtime costs and better assist the Town in meeting critical public safety obligations including the eventual staffing of a North Wilmington Fire Substation.

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?

In October of this past year, the Board of Selectmen unanimously reappointed Town Manager Jeff Hull. When we established Mr. Hull’s contract, we included an annual evaluation clause that would address Mr. Hull’s job performance. Such an evaluation tool is designed to be both informational and constructive. As a Selectman, I am obligated to abide by the terms of the contract and if re-elected, I will offer an honest, thorough and instructive evaluation of the Town Manager.

I can tell you that Mr. Hull and I do not always agree on matters of policy but I respect his work ethic and value his many contributions to the community. I believe that Wilmington has competent, talented and dedicated department heads and town employees. Their work has been exemplary. I am not looking for a change in leadership at Town Hall.

(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

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