Your vote counts on March 6 — meet the candidates for Natural Resources Commission

The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2018 election will be held on March 6.

We invited the four candidates for the two open positions on the Natural Resources Commission to answer a few questions about their qualifications and their priorities for the Town of Wellesley. Later posts will cover the other two contested races —  School Committee and Town Clerk.

Katie Griffith, WellesleyNRC candidate — KATIE GRIFFITH

The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?

Katie Griffith: I moved to Wellesley ten years ago after finishing my Ph.D. in ecology. Since then, I have engaged the town in hands-on workshops in plant science at the STEM EXPO, Wellesley College Botanic Gardens, and in the Wellesley elementary schools. Now I would like to bring that scientific expertise to enhance the educational programming and outreach of the NRC. My collaborative approach to decision-making and experience as a Town Meeting Member will be an asset as we consider how to manage our town forests, our recreational spaces, and the North 40.

Sw: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish on the NRC?
KG:
I hope to help guide park and field policy, work on a stewardship plan for our town forests, and devote myself to the educational mission of the Wellesley NRC. As a mother of three kids who have all played sports on Wellesley’s fields, I believe I can bring a balanced perspective to the active recreation decisions that are being made, and look forward to collaborating with all those involved in these efforts.

Sw: What is your hot-button issue?

KG: My hot-button issue is facilitating more collaboration between the NRC and other committees in town. I’ve spent many hours on the phone and over coffee with people involved across town to begin building relationships if I am elected.

Sw: How much of a role do you think the NRC should play in shaping environmental policy outside of Wellesley?
KG: While the NRC’s first priority is Wellesley, we shouldn’t miss opportunities to bring about positive change on a larger scale, especially because our local environment is integrally connected to the rest of the state. We are at a crucial time for environmental policy: decisions being made now have the power to impact our environment and health for generations to come.

Sw: Is there anything else you would like to say that the above questions did not cover?

KG: I would be honored to represent you on the NRC and I ask for your vote! You can learn more about me and get in touch here: www.katiefornrc.com

 

Martin J. McHale, Jr.NRC candidate — Martin J. McHale, Jr.

 

Swellesley: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?I

Martin McHale: My wife, 2 boys (ages 12 and 14) and I have had the opportunity to enjoy Wellesley’s wonderful trails and parks for over 10 years, and I am honored to run for the NRC. If elected, my expertise in chairing both for-profit (financial services) and non-profit (childhood wellness) organizations will allow me to contribute to NRC goals, and bring a fresh perspective to the issues at hand.

During my career, I have been involved in spearheading many sustainability efforts on behalf of my organizations, as well as developing sustainability products for consumers that significantly reduces paper waste. From a leadership perspective, the skills I have developed in bringing various teams together would be a welcome addition not only to the NRC board, but to the other town boards that interact with the NRC.

The mission statement of the NRC states that “It is the mission of the Natural Resources Commission to provide stewardship of, education about, and advocacy for the Town of Wellesley’s parks, conservation, recreation and open space areas so the full value of the Town’s natural assets can be passed onto future generations”. I’m a firm believer in this, and in fact, think that we need to focus on the current as well as future generations. My main priority would be to focus on the future of Wellesley’s parks and trails, so children and future residents will benefit from improving our outdoor spaces. I also believe we need to continue the efforts on reducing the number of gas leaks in town, provide education on the proper use of fertilizers and pesticides to protect our ground water, as well as review the tree canopy guidelines. Thanks in advance for your consideration and support, and I encourage you to reach out to me at jmcahle@ameritech.net if you have comments, questions, or would like to support my campaign.

Sw: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish on the NRC?
MM: In addition to my hot-button issue below, I believe we need to continue the efforts on reducing the number of gas leaks in town, continued education on the proper use of fertilizers and pesticides to protect our ground water, as well as review the tree canopy efforts.

Sw: What is your hot-button issue?
MM: Perhaps not a hot-button issue, but one of my key goals is to look at the goals/objective of the NRC and ensure a balanced effort goes into achieving all of them. Given the number of pressing issues facing the town today, we need to redefine these
goals/objectives to create achievable results that can be measured and reported back to the community.

Sw: How much of a role do you think the NRC should play in shaping environmental policy outside of Wellesley?
MM: I believe that local government should focus locally, as there are many issues on our plate that need to be addressed. That being said, I believe sharing ideas and working closely with adjacent communities could only enhance the work of the NRC. I would think in most cases our goals would be aligned and that ideas that are implemented here would work there just as well. Of course, staying aligned with county and state efforts would be important as well.

 

Laura Robert is running for one of two open positions on the Natural Resources Commission

NRC candidate — LAURA ROBERT

 

Swellesley: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?

Laura Robert: As a 27-year resident of Wellesley, I am deeply committed to our community and have long worked to improve and enhance the town’s extraordinary assets. Raising my two children, Mike Robert and Julia Fragasso, here in Wellesley has given me a profound appreciation for the parks and recreational facilities that we all enjoy.

  • Town Meeting Member: For the past five years, I have represented Precinct E at Wellesley Town Meeting, becoming well-versed in the structure and processes of town government.
  • Advocate for safe drinking water: As a passionate advocate for safe drinking water, I co-founded the local organization Friends of Brookside in 2010 to promote protections for the wells and aquifer on the eastern side of Wellesley that provide our water.
  • Booster for public engagement in our parks: I co-founded Art in the Park with Wellesley Women Artisans to engage residents of all ages in an annual community art project during the Wellesley Wonderful Weekend celebration.

Sw: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish on the NRC?
LR: I am running for the NRC to use my experience and perspective to help guide policy and balanced decision-making. My top priority is to hear and serve all residents as I work to advance the NRC’s mission of environmental stewardship.

Sw: What is your hot-button issue?
Water. When it comes to the quality and quantity of our drinking water we should take a protective and long-range view. We have historically enjoyed high water quality and we never want to take it for granted. In addition to our excellent Town water managers, our residents and landowners play an important role in achieving the best wellhead protection. Flows within our watersheds are also not limited to our town’s boundaries. As such, I support greater investment in NRC education and outreach.

Sw: How much of a role do you think the NRC should play in shaping environmental policy outside of Wellesley?
LR: I support participation on environmental issues and legislation at the State level. It is a benefit to our community and informs our local initiatives and decisions. Recent examples of proposed state legislation which directly affect Wellesley include bills on pesticide use, plastics reduction, and gas leaks.

Sw: Is there anything else you would like to say that the above questions did not cover?
LR: Wellesley is a great place to live due in no small part to the creation of the NRC in 1977. I would be honored to serve and I ask for your vote on Tuesday March 6th.

MORE:
Laura Robert’s website
laurarobertfornrc@gmail.com

NRC candidate — JERRY NIGRO

We reached out to Jerry Nigro by email and phone, but did not hear back from him. If he sends along his information, this post will be updated. In the meantime, you can learn more about Nigro from Wicked Local.