Sunday, June 2, 2013

To the Citizens of Longmeadow

The following article was submitted by Mark Gold, incumbent candidate for re-election to the Longmeadow Select Board in the upcoming Annual Town Elections (June 11) to the Longmeadow Buzz blog and Longmeadow News.

Dear Longmeadow Neighbor,

I am writing this open letter to the citizens of Longmeadow asking for each of your votes in the June 11, 2013 Longmeadow Select Board election.  I am asking for your vote based on my four year track record of achievement for the town of Longmeadow – a record that has demonstrated that I am making balanced and appropriate decisions on behalf of the entire population. 

Back in 2007 our town residents passed a proposition 2-1/2 over-ride by 7 votes.  At the time, town residents were told that the over-ride was designed to last 3 years at which time we would likely need another.  The budget we just passed at this month’s town meeting was our 8thsince that over-ride – and I’ve played a major role in each of the last four budgets.   I believe that fiscal responsibility is a key characteristic that most citizens want in a Select Board member, and our ability to run the town within the proposition 2-1/2 limit for the past eight years has shown that I have that ability.  Most importantly, this budgeting was done with NO impact on town services or school programs.  This year I was the force leading the compromise with the School Department that showed them why we really needed only $353,000 to achieve the educational goals they sought, not their original requested $750,000.  Did I cut the school budget – NO – I increased it by $353,000!  In the budget negotiations with the School Committee I pointed out, for example, that they should BUDGET for the teachers who would be retiring and replaced with teachers at a lower salary step – change that allowed us to reduce their originally requested budget salary line item by $160,000 to reflect those retirements.  Working with the school committee we found $400,000 in reductions to the original school budget that we could all live with that didn't cut educational excellence.

During my four years as a member of the Select Board I’ve also pushed for other financial benefits for the town to reduce our dependence on real estate tax revenue.  I got the local meals tax before town meeting.  The revenue from this tax will raise $80,000 for the town.  I negotiated contracts with vendors that saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for the town.  But my achievements go beyond just financial.  The leadership I showed during the October, 2011 storm recovery, the leadership in behind the scenes labor negotiations, and the BALANCE I have brought to the deliberations of the Select Board and the discussions between the Select Board and the School committee have truly been positive for the town.

Moving forward, I have ideas that will continue to further the programs that the citizens of Longmeadow generally support.   There’s no reason why we can’t have a town-wide wireless internet system.  Residents could cut their Comcast internet bills, use their smart phones on Wi-Fi settings throughout town to save on phone bills, all while the town gets a share of the proceeds.  Such town-wide WiFi systems are being installed all over the country, and we can have this system in Longmeadow.  We can purchase our street lights from WMECo and save as much as half of the $750,000 per year we spend in rental and lighting costs.  We can upgrade our roads and sidewalks.  I’ve expressed these very concrete (pardon the pun) proposals that will continue to move the town forward in a fiscally responsible manner while maintaining the character of the town that drew most residents here in the first place.

So, it is based on these specific examples of achievement and forward thinking that I ask for your vote on June 11th.  I have a demonstrated record of service to the town for over fourteen years that shows that the residents of Longmeadow can expect this level of dedication and achievement to continue through my next term on the Select Board.

I would leave you with this thought:  There’s nothing broken about the town of Longmeadow and how it’s operating.  Certainly things can always be better, and I plan on continuing our progress for the next three years.  I plan on achieving that progress from a position of understanding, experience, and demonstrated performance.   

I would ask for your vote on June 11th and the vote of your friends and family.

Warmest Regards,
Mark Gold

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