Good Choices in Tuesday's Election
I like choices. Baskin Robbins made a brand of it, offering 31 flavors of ice cream from which to choose. Next Tuesday, there may not be 31 candidates for Selectman on the ballot, but the choices are good ones nonetheless. Of the five who would be Selectman, each of them bring qualities that would complement the foursome currently seated at the big table. After the votes are counted, though, only one will take the oath, take the seat at the table, and take on the task of putting forth an agenda while recognizing the crucial concept that the only success comes with the Board members working together for common goals.
All but one of the candidates offer a local government pedigree that has prepared them nicely for the detail and sometimes weekly drudgery of Selectmen's meetings. In no particular order, John Flanagan has immersed himself in local transportation issues on the Transportation Management Commission and Sheryl Kozens-Long is Chair of the Historical Commission, sits on the Agricultural Commission, and is a Town Meeting Member. Melissa Freitag sits on the Historical Commission and has been on the Finance Committee in another town on Cape, and Robert Volosevich is an elected member of the Planning Board and serves as Chair of the Local Planning Committee. Only Falmouth native David Moriarty lacks some tenure on a local board, but even he has political experience, having served in the office of former State Rep. Eric Turkington
It is in their plans for our community's future, their outlook on the issues, and their approach to governing where these five Falmouthphiles differ. I am excited and encouraged by the optimistic and inclusive tone struck by Volosevich in his written and spoken word. His vision to create a Kennedyesque "kitchen cabinet," while not an original thought, certainly places an appropriate emphasis on listening to locals and their opinions, which in many cases have been left out of the decision making process in town of late. Freitag speaks frequently of the public as stakeholders in our local government, an apt and insightful perspective that is important and necessary on a Board that should strive to represent a mosaic of our community. Kozens-Long appears to have taken a less inclusive approach in her local government experience, having been an active participant in the polarizing cranberry wars and earning fairly low marks from this observer for her outreach with the Historical Commissions' recent inventory of historic buildings. Flanagan has unmatched business and financial acumen among the candidates, but his statements and vision for the office make him well suited to be a sole authority, a mayor, and not necessarily a consensus-building member of a Board of five. Falmouth already has one Selectman who thinks he's a mayor and I'm not sure would be well served with another. Moriarty's stand to "save the dump," emblazoned on his yard signs, is a noble objective, but other than striking a "green" theme, he has not articulated his plans well enough to make an informed judgment on his candidacy. His lighthearted demeanor, though, has been a welcome addition to the local political landscape and I hope he sticks around.
The choice for me, then, is between the Professor (Freitag) and the Ice Cream Man (Volosevich). In addition to the aforementioned admirable attributes, they are the only two candidates who have embraced technology as a means to reach out to the voters, Freitag with a website, and Volosevich with a Facebook page. This demonstrates an understanding of today's voter and sincere effort to reach out that will be invaluable in Town Hall. Volosevich, as the owner of Spiral Cone in Teaticket, understands what small business owners are going through in these difficult times and would bring that perspective to the fee hearings and regulation discussions. His commitment to working with Chamber President Jay Zavala on a citizens' academy to inspire volunteerism is a home run and I hope it becomes a reality no matter what the outcome on Tuesday.
In the final analysis, though, my choice for Selectman is Melissa Freitag. Her commitment to "fiscal responsibility while upholding the democratic process" points to a transparency and an openness that is wilted today and is sorely in need of new life. She has a grasp of the issues, an ability to communicate her ideas, and most importantly, a desire to "communicate with all residents - not just the most vocal."
We all have the opportunity to be loud and clear, whatever our choice on Tuesday. Scream out your democracy on Tuesday and cast a ballot.
This article is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.