More Thoughts on Tuesday’s Election: Town Meeting by Precinct

OK – I’ve written about my thoughts on the town-wide offices that are contested this April. Now, on to Town Meeting.

A note on how to vote for Town Meeting…

With Town Meeting, the top 12 vote getters are elected. However, as a voter you don’t have to vote for 12 people. In fact, you most definitely should not just fill out your card by voting for people you don’t know or support. Just vote for the people you know and support. If that’s 12, or 10 or 2 – so be it. Your vote will help get them over the top. Your vote for a lesser candidate you actually don’t support could help put them over the top – so don’t do it! That’s why, as I list folks to vote for, my lists may not always total 12 candidates. Just FYI.

It’s always good to take a look at your ballot before you vote. The ballots for Precincts 1 through 8 are on the Town’s website here.

As with the town-wide offices, I’m only going to focus on the precincts with competitive slates (that is more than 12 candidates for 12 slots). By my count, that is Precincts 1, 2, 6 and 8.  If you want to skip all the blathering and verbiage, you can just jump to the recommendations using the following links.

First: a few words about Town Meeting

If you’re new to town here in Belmont, here’s the deal: we have are representative Town Meeting of 288 directly elected members – 36 from each of the town’s 8 precincts. There are an additional 8 at-large members as well including members of the Board of Selectmen,  Treasurer, Town Clerk, Town Counsel and our State Senator and State Rep, etc. etc. But the bulk of us are elected to three year terms, with 12 members from each of 8 precincts elected each year. I’m up for my fourth term as a town meeting member. Some of us have served – literally – for decades.


The Freedom of Speech (updated). Vote for Town Meeting so your voice can be heard. Images courtesy of Wikipedia and Real Clear Life.

Generally we meet in the Spring (late April or early May). There may also be Special Town Meetings to address critical issues that require a Town Meeting vote or just when there’s business that can’t wait. Often you’ll see these appended to annual Town Meeting or in the autumn – November, say. But really they can happen at any time. In fact, citizens can convene Town Meeting with a petition to address a specific matter or matters. (I’ve done this – ask me if you’re curious!)

As with Congress in D.C. or the state Legislature here in Massachusetts: in Belmont, Town Meeting has the power of the purse. We approve the Town’s budget as well as any other major expenditures. It’s an unwieldy body but – I’ve found – pretty effective at what it does and populated with some super smart and insightful members, representing a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.

Town Meeting (and politics in Belmont generally) don’t break down on typical left/right or Democrat/Republican lines. Rather, you want to elect folks who share your priorities and vision for where the town is going and how best to get us where we’re going. That may correlate with party affiliation, but it may not.

Precinct 8 Town Meeting (15 candidates for 12 spots)

Let’s start with my home precinct, #8. This is the area around Winn Brook Elementary. First thing’s first:


That’s right. I’m up for re-election in Precinct 8. This would be my fourth term on Town Meeting. I’m the Chairman of the Town’s IT Advisory Committee. I’m a staunch advocate for the Community Path (you know that). I’m also deeply concerned about the public schools and will be following closely the discussions of the School budget in 2019-2020. I’m also a strong advocate for the public library, safe streets and the environment. So if you’re in Precinct 8 (the area around Winn Brook Elementary School), vote for me!

On to the rest of Precinct 8: we have a competitive race of 15 people vying for 12 slots. Here are folks I will be voting for (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Brian Caputo, Oliver Road 
  • Kathleen “Fitzie” Cowing, Cross Street (incumbent)
  • Michael Crowley, Farnham Street (incumbent)
  • Katherine Dilawari, Munroe Street
  • Radha Iyengar, Dean Street 
  • Chris Kochem, Jason Road (incumbent)
  • Anne-Marie Lambert, Chilton Street (incumbent)
  • Roger Read, Munroe Street (incumbent)
  • Paul Rickter, Cross Street (incumbent)
  • Ann Rittenburg, Farnham Street (incumbent)
  • Paul Roberts, Cross Street (incumbent)
  • Gi Yoon-Huang, Winn Street (incumbent)

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Precinct 6 (15 candidates for 12 spots)

Precinct 6, which roughly covers the area around Payson Reservoir, has a competitive slate of 15 candidates for 12 slots. Here are the folks I would vote for if I lived there. (Again: names are listed in alphabetical order.)

  • April Edrington, Elizabeth Road
  • Elizabeth Gibson, Oakley Road (incumbent)
  • Marcie Hirsch, Old Middlesex Road (incumbent) 
  • Virginia Jordon, Lawndale Street (incumbent)
  • Stephen Klionsky, Payson Road (incumbent)
  • Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Lipson, Townsend Road (incumbent)
  • Lauren Meier, Oak Avenue 
  • Katherine Poulin-Kerstien, Townsend Road (incumbent)
  • Jocelyn Record, Oak Avenue (incumbent)
  • Brian Saper, Old Middlesex Road (incumbent)
  • Laurie Rutherford Slap, Long Avenue (incumbent) 
  • Julie Wu, Hillside Terrace 

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Precinct 2 (13 candidates for 12 spots)

Precinct 2, which comprises Belmont Hill all the way over to the border with Lexington by Belmont Country Club, has 13 candidates vying for 12 slots. If I was fortunate enough to live in leafy P2, here’s who I’d be voting for:

  • Elizabeth Harmer Dionne, Wellesley Road (incumbent)
  • Anne Helgen, Marsh Street (incumbent)
  • Karen Herosian, Pleasant Street (incumbent)
  • Kathy Keohane, Rutledge Road (incumbent)
  • Linda Levin-Scherz, Woodbine Road (incumbent)
  • Michelle Mathur, Woodfall Road
  • Elizabeth (“Libby”) Fallon Weintraub, 51 Prentiss Lane

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Precinct 1 (13 candidates for 12 spots)

Precinct 1, which comprises the area around School Street, is traditionally one of the most competitive precincts. It has 13 candidates for 12 slots. If I lived in one of those gorgeous victorian homes, here’s who I would vote for:

  • Kathryn Bonfiglio, Long Ave. 
  • Mark Carthy, Stone Road (incumbent)
  • Jessica Olans Hausman, Sharpe Road
  • Alina Lisanke, Bow Road (incumbent)
  • Gretchen McClain, School Street (incumbent)
  • Robert McGaw, Louise Road (incumbent)
  • Adriana Poole, Louise Road (incumbent)
  • Alex Thurston, Baker Street
  • Kristen Zecchi, Orchard Street (incumbent)

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