WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Selectmen Chair Jonathan Eaton is departing the board this week as he prepares for his next act in local government — Town Moderator.
Eaton decided not to seek a second term on the Board of Selectmen, in part, so he can spend time with his wife and two young children.
Past and present Selectmen did not let Eaton’s final board meeting go by without honoring him for his service to the town.
“You’re a gentleman among gentlemen,” said former Selectman Mike Champoux. “I admire and respect you. I’m fortunate to call you a friend… Thank you for your years of service — 3 on the Selectmen and 6 on the Finance Committee. All volunteer time. The town owes you a debt of gratitude. I’m delighted you’re going to stay in our service as our next Town Moderator.”
“Thank you for your many years of service to the town in various capacities,” added former Selectwoman Judy O’Connell. “I’m thrilled you’re running for the Town Moderator position. I think you’ll be outstanding. You’re a consummate professional. You have done such a great service to the town…. You’ve done a tremendous amount of good work and I’m glad that will continue.”
“I congratulate you on what was a very difficult year,” said former Selectman Lou Cimaglia. “It’s been trying times for all levels of government. You’ve led with class. I admire your leadership. I wish you luck on your future endeavors as Moderator.”
“You’re a positive leader that I want in my community,” added Selectman Greg Bendel. “You do things with a lot of class. You’re always very well prepared. You’re one of the most intelligent guys I know. We haven’t always agreed on every issue, but you’ve always treated me with respect.”
“For what you’ve done on behalf of this community, and for your leadership and professionalism, you will be missed, for sure,” said Selectman Kevin Caira. “I cherish our friendship. I’m sure it will carry on. Thank you for everything you’ve done as chairman for the past year and as a Selectmen for 3 years.”
“You’re an asset to the town. I’m glad you’re staying on with us as Town Moderator,” added Selectman Gary DePalma. “Coming on to the board during these difficult times, I didn’t know if I was coming or going sometimes. I learned a lot from you. Thank you for everything you did for me.”
Selectwoman Jomarie O’Mahony presented Eaton with a special journal. She noted that, while sitting next to Eaton at the meetings for a year, he has journal or notebook for every discussion topic.
“I’m looking forward to being able to continue our friendship without the Open Meeting Law rules around our conservations,” joked O’Mahony. “I will miss you. I look forward to driving you crazy at Town Meeting.”
Selectman Bendel, on behalf of the board, presented Eaton with a plaque and gavel recognizing Eaton’s three years of devoted service to the town as a Selectmen.
“Thank you to Sarah, Hadley and Cole for lending us Jonathan, who missed a lot of bedtimes in order to attend these meetings,” added Bendel.
Selectman Eaton Says His Goodbye
Selectman Eaton took the opportunity to turn the tables and issue several thank you’s of his own.
“I want to thank my colleagues as I think we’ve done a good job of setting our differences aside and focusing on the big picture to do the best we can to move the town in the right direction,” said Eaton.
“I want to thank the people who supported me being up here [by voting for me],” added Eaton. “But I also appreciate the people who didn’t vote for me but gave me an honest opportunity to earn their trust over the past three years. The community has been fantastic to me.”
Eaton thanked his wife, children and parents for their unwavering support.
He also offered kind works for Town Manager Jeff Hull and town employees.
“This has probably been Town Manager Hull’s most challenging year as a professional. New fires were being put out every single day,” said Eaton. “[The Town Manager] displayed a steady dedication to his job and displayed the ability to weather the storm while avoiding layoffs…. The fact that the town can still have conversations about its capital improvement needs in this environment is a testament to his strength and talent.”
“I can’t convey the level of appreciation for the way town employees have stood up under difficult circumstances over the last 13 months,” noted Eaton. “The grit, flexibility and creativity you’ve all displayed. It’s been absolutely stunning for me to see…. To watch your strength as you’ve risen to the channel has been so humbling for me… Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the way you’ve reacted to the adversity that the last year has presented.”
Eaton also offered some advice to residents looking to get involved in the town.
“This has been an extraordinary rewarding position for me,” explained Eaton. “If you care about your community, get involved. It doesn’t need to be in this forum. It can be in any. You get far more out of the community when you become an active, driving force for change than you do by merely being a consumer of what the town has to offer you. If you want the community to be better, get involved — do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
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