Media

CANDIDATE STATEMENT

Concord's Future is Here: Let's Make it Better Together

from the Concord Journal, May 22, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all our lives, and tragically ended some. It’s certainly not over, but we’ve hopefully faced the worst of it. Concord’s great local hospital, committed teachers, caring first responders and creative business owners have all shined during this crisis, supported by a legion of volunteers.

With health, safety and economic uncertainty top of mind, it’s sometimes difficult to look ahead. But social distancing has also accelerated a deeper transformation that was already underway. This is the moment to choose what we want post-pandemic Concord to be.

We can start by reaffirming our commitment to good governance: broad citizen engagement, fiscal responsibility, transparency and most of all, listening. Going forward, we can share more information online, enable remote public participation, and expand electronic voting.

We’ve had to pause the middle school project, but that gives us more time to consider any digital era design impacts. And while budgets will be tight, we can continue to invest in the infrastructure of our village centers and the businesses that make them great. It’s also important to follow through on our affordable housing commitments, and to promote more flexible, lower-cost housing alternatives. Meanwhile, let’s expand social media support for our cultural institutions, business associations and charitable organizations to keep them relevant.

We can turn a new page by settling the Estabrook Woods dispute, balancing the public’s interest in access with respect for property.

Finally, we can work to forestall an even bigger crisis: climate change. We’ll continue to green our power supply and discourage the use of fossil fuels in transit and new development.

Concord’s future is here. Let’s make it better together. Go to SelectMatt.org to join your friends and neighbors who’ve endorsed my campaign, and to apply to vote by mail before the June 11th election date.

Concord Journal Q&A: What makes you the best candidate?

1) Concord town government experience. As a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board, I’ve built strong working relationships with town staff, fellow board members and other town boards and committees. I’ve drafted, presented and passed several warrant articles at Town Meeting, run successful public forums, and presided over many public hearings. I’m effective at gathering public input, finding common ground, and turning debate into decisions.

2) Commitment to the town’s goals. I contributed to Concord’s comprehensive long range plan, and worked on the Planning Board to deliver on its recommendations. I outlined an overarching theme (housing choice) for our 2020 zoning bylaw initiatives, and facilitated a year-long requirements-gathering, drafting and communication process to enable more affordable accessory dwelling and 2-family housing. I’ve also actively promoted sustainability, fiscal discipline and efficiency in town government.

3) Analytical, critical perspective. As a technology professional, I’m comfortable basing decisions on credible data and references, and I’m not afraid to challenge the status quo. But I can also admit mistakes, and don’t hold a grudge if I don’t prevail.

4) Energy, enthusiasm and optimism. I’m excited about the town’s history and potential, and carry others along in my enthusiasm.

What is the biggest problem facing Concord and how would you correct it?

As I’ve held candidate coffees around town, I’ve had the chance to ask many people about their hot-button issues. I expected to hear about traffic and parking, because they’re serious everyday problems. Those topics came up, but surprisingly, most raised deeper concerns. Whether they care most about environmental sustainability, economic and cultural diversity, or building mutual trust and social connection, Concordians want more than a pretty, affluent suburban town with great schools and adequate parking. They want to reclaim Concord’s rich heritage of community spirit that once produced revolutionaries, transcendentalists and abolitionists to lead meaningful change today.

How can I build community spirit as a Select Board member? First, I will continue to listen, and foster the town’s common sense of mission. For example, we can rally as a community for the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, and share Concord’s values with the world. Second, I will seek out and appoint competent board and committee members who are committed to our mission. Third, I will balance competing interests, and coordinate efforts to achieve common goals. Concord’s history is still being made, and our public bodies, private organizations, property owners, businesses and citizens can work together to make it better.

What are your goals for your first term should you win?

The Select Board accomplishes most of its goals indirectly – appointing citizens to committees that draft our bylaws rather than drafting most bylaws itself, recommending the budget that the Finance Committee produces, and setting annual goals for the Town Manager, rather than managing day-to-day town affairs. While I’ve spelled out a comprehensive platform on my campaign website, I can’t just “make it so.” I must listen, lead and collaborate to get things done.

That said, I think we can achieve plenty in the next three years:

  • Reduce Concord’s carbon footprint with greener buildings, energy sources and transit
  • Limit congestion via better transportation planning
  • Complete the Bruce Freeman rail trail
  • Update wireless communications policies
  • Responsibly fund a great middle school
  • Plan how to upgrade our aging municipal facilities
  • Resolve and begin to recover from the Estabrook Road litigation
  • Prepare for Concord’s 250th anniversary commemoration of the American Revolution
  • Find creative ways to make Concord more affordable and equitable

We can also explore other opportunities, such as repurposing the Peabody School and Starmet sites. But then there’s the unanticipated: the coronavirus is just one example. Whatever arises, I’ll listen, learn and respond. A Select Board member never acts alone; we solve problems together.