Senator Scott Brown's recent stunning victory over Attorney General Martha Coakley was not, I believe, a ringing endorsement of the Republican Party here in Massachusetts, nor was it a warm fuzzy embrace of Sen. Brown's conservative principles. It represented, however, a seismic shift in how candidates must behave and connect with voters. It was an endorsement of the incredible organization, energy and positive message that Sen. Brown and his team brought to the race. It was a rejection of the business as usual school of thought where candidates feel entitled to any given seat.
These lessons certainly have applications here in Falmouth. In my column last week, I wondered out loud if local officials were paying attention to the unmistakable message of the Brown victory. In an e-mail conversation I had with Enterprise publisher Bill Hough on this very subject, he wondered, "When are we going to start pulling together? It seems to never end. Who's the equivalent of Scott Brown in Falmouth?" Who indeed, Bill. Who has the energy, enthusiasm, and positive message to unite and repair a fractured local government? Who can transcend the negativity that pervades virtually every discussion in the corner conference room and help bring back some progress? Who can lead us? Here, in no particular order, are a few suggestions which can also be construed as gentle prodding to help out and seek this town's highest office:
Mike Duffany - Mike has the experience, civic commitment, business sense, and most importantly, the temperament to bring both healing and a forward thinking perspective to the Board. He has certainly withstood the scrutiny laser-like intensity of public office during his time on the School Building Committee, and has demonstrated both perseverance and stamina by not walking away. Falmouth could unite and say "I like Mike."
Michael Palmer - There is no provision in our Town Charter precluding the Town Clerk from holding office as a Selectman. In fact, I know of specific instances in other towns where that has occurred. Michael has proven himself to be among the most reliable and honorable elected officials in recent memory. His knowledge of the community and its history is nearly unparalleled, and his smile and affability are both contagious. He has a Brown-esque positive outlook that would serve us well. Falmouth could unite and say "I really like Mike."
Gary Anderson - Few local officials over the last couple of years can claim to be as in tune with our local finances as the Chair of the Finance Committee. Gary also has a quality many admire in our new senator - straight talk. His honest and straightforward prognostications on our local fiscal outlook have become an important and valued part of our Town Meeting preparation. He may need a little work to rise to the level of the two Mikes on the joviality meter, but certainly deserves consideration as a man who can mend.
Virginia Valiela - Sometimes, like that reliable blanket on the couch, we can take great comfort in something we know and trust. While some cranberry colored scars may still exist from Virginia's near legendary stint at the corner conference table, she has, in retirement, further boosted her credibility and respect by carefully choosing the issues in which she has become involved, and maintained a cooperative and helpful demeanor. Her presence on the Board would instantly restore some credibility and would serve to deafen the clang of discontented voices.
Paul Brodeur - While many may consider this an unlikely choice, our esteemed Fire Chief, who has led our fine Fire & Rescue Department for more than a dozen years with strong managerial skills but a valued sense of humor, would also instantly bring sincerity and reliability to a Board searching for some of both. I don't know of the Chief's plans, and when or if he is planning to hang up his white fire helmet, but there is a white hat waiting for him when he does.
These are just a few examples of citizens who may have what it takes to restore our faith and confidence. There are many more. Bob Crane, are you listening? Mark Woods, is it your time? Sandy Cuny, are you ready for the next level?
Falmouth needs its own Senator Brown. Who is willing to smile and work hard enough to do it is something I do not know. What I do know, though, is that more than ever, we need them.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enteprise.