Wanted: Candidates For Town Boards And Committees

Too busy? No excuse! This is important work.

By Dennis Fenton, Andover Board of Selectmen (retired)

Dennis Fenton, a long-time member of the Board of Selectmen, wrote these words in 2009 when he decided to retire from the Board. With his permission, we’re re-running this to encourage people to consider becoming a candidate.

First, the fact that you are busy is not a legitimate excuse! Everyone can use that one, but it’s the town’s well-being that is at stake, so we all have to find time to do the things that are really important to us.

What background should you have to run for a Town office? There’s no one right answer to that question. George Upton, for example, took an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Board of Selectmen before the moving van was completely unloaded when he came to Andover. He went on to win re-election. George only had on-the-job training, which is the hard way.

Other Town officers have taken different paths. All these folks had one thing in common – as a part of the community, they wanted to give something back to Andover.

A Good Candidate

What makes a good candidate? The first item on any candidate’s agenda should be what is good for the majority. When a new problem arises, the solution is not the easy way out, but what serves our town the best.

As a member of a Town board or committee, you are one of the overseers of our town whose job it is to manage the town’s resources and problems. When a vote is taken, be supportive even if you might like something a little different.

Your main charge is to have needed services provided to the town at a reasonable cost. An important tool available to you in pursuit of that goal is the Budget Committee. Their job is to review all budgets in town and present the budget to be voted on at Town Meeting, School District Meeting, and the meetings of the various precincts.

The Budget Committee takes the prejudice out of an individual budget as they look at the big picture. It is important that we all, boards and citizens, listen very closely to the story they tell each year as they attempt to keep our tax rate at a manageable level.

Share Your Talents

To all you good folks out there: You are not too busy to make a commitment to share your many talents. Being a member of a Town board or committee is not a thankless job. People appreciate your willingness to serve, and you will be surprised how many times you are told this.

I don’t know who will sign up, but you are out there. This is for your town. It is all worthwhile. Good luck!

The filing dates for candidates to file with the Town Clerk are Wednesday, January 21, through Friday, January 30.