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Voters Will Have a Choice For Town Moderator This Spring

Election Day is on Apr. 1

(left) Jon Kurland, (right) Richard DeFreitas
(left) Jon Kurland, (right) Richard DeFreitas

Even a snowstorm couldn’t stop two candidates from signing up on Thursday for what looks to be a hotly contested race for Town Moderator this fall.

Incumbent Richard DeFreitas and former Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee chairman Jon Kurland both signed up shortly after town hall opened on the first day of nominations ensuring voters will have a choice of candidates on Apr. 1

While Kurland does disagree with some issues surrounding the operation of town meeting and appointment of Finance Committee members, Kurland offering that choice to voters was the main reason to run for the position.

“I don’t think any election should be uncontested,” said Kurland. “I’ve got a track record from my time as chairman of the FinCom and Selectmen, and I wanted to give people a choice.”

For DeFreitas, the decision to pursue another three-year term came down to largely to implementation of recommendations from the new Moderator’s Advisory Rules Committee, also known as the MARCOM.

While the past few weeks have marked the first re-emergence of the MARCOM in decades, DeFreitas wants to make it a regular standing committee, meeting two weeks after every Spring Town Meeting moving forward.

“I want to hear all recommendations whether I agree with them or not, I didn’t do this to get re-elected,” said DeFreitas. “The success of this committee is more important to me than re-election.”

DeFreitas also points to other accomplishments during his term, such as electronic voting modules and the appointment of Patrice Garvin to the Finance Committee, who recently became town administrator for the Town of Shirley.

If re-elected, DeFreitas hopes to also combine the debate period and the “question and answer” period, with Chelmsford being the only town in the state separating the two according to DeFreitas.

At times last fall, DeFreitas got irritated at speakers at Town Meeting asking questions he claimed they and other Town Meeting representatives already knew the answers for what he saw as political posturing, calling himself “insensitive” at times.

While DeFrietas says he will try to be clearer with his perspectives regarding implementation of Town Meeting rules, he still thinks people shouldn’t ask questions where they already know the answer. There, Kurland disagrees, saying that even if Town Meeting representatives know the answer, voters watching the meeting may be educated by the discussion.

“I think it depends on how the question is asked, but it’s important or people watching at home to know. Even if Town Meeting reps know the answer, the general public may be served,” he said.

Town Meeting will occur in late April, after voters head to the polls to choose who will be moderator. 

Tyler Jozefowicz January 05, 2014 at 09:28 PM
I don't recall any problems with Town Meeting for the time I've been here. Now all of a sudden there is chaos, calls for recommendations to correct the procedure. Is it the process or is it the person ? Anyone shed any light on this ?
Jon Kurland January 07, 2014 at 06:54 AM
Tyler - In response to you post about town moderator here is what I have said on Town Talk. I would not run if I was happy with the way that Town Meeting is run. I agree with you that the best Town Moderator is one who is seen least during Town Meeting. I have run meetings as Chair of FinCom for 2 years and as Chair of BOS for a year in a transparent, efficient and expeditious manner. Numerous Town Meeting Representatives asked me to run and although I have some logistical differences with the manner in which the current TM runs meetings, it is really an issue of how to pay attention to what is going on so that questions and arguments stay focused, that the Moderator is conscious of what amendments are pending and what the Reps are voting on at any given time and how the Moderator interacts with the Reps in a mutually respectful manner. I believe that is missing. Also my nearly 8 years on FinCom make me uniquely qualified to appoint members of that Board. http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01497&video=180921
Tyler Jozefowicz January 07, 2014 at 07:57 AM
I suggest you attend the Subcommittee meetings on Town Meeting Reform( 9 precinct reps appointed to look into reform). Current Town Moderator is Ex-Officio. The meetings are open to the public. Observe, note take. My sneaky suspicion , it's a bag job, with the Town Moderator and appointed Chairman, who are buddies, pulling the strings.

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