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 2020 election will be held on March 17.
There are two candidates running for two three-year positions on the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) Board — Martin Jay McHale and Allison Burson.
It is the mission of the five-member NRC Board 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.
We invited the candidates to answer a few questions about their qualifications and priorities for the Town of Wellesley. McHale’s Q & A is below. Burson’s Q & A appeared in a previous post.
The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?
Martin Jay McHale: My wife, 2 boys (ages 14 and 16) and I have had the opportunity to enjoy Wellesley’s wonderful trails and parks for almost 13 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.
The most successful board bring individuals together that have varied experience. It is my background in leadership compounded with my experience in dealing with environmental issues from a corporate perspective that makes me a great candidate for serving on the NRC board.
SR: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish during your three-year tenure on the NRC?
Martin Jay McHale: I would continue focus with the board’s current focus on how we can assist in fighting climate change, as well as addressing more local issues such as gas leaks, tree canopy, and better utilization of our active and passive recreational spaces.
SR: What can Wellesley do to fix the multitude of gas leaks in town?
Martin Jay McHale: While many worthwhile efforts have been undertaken by the NRC to date (informing the public, identifying problem locations, prioritizing action arounds schools, working with statewide agencies, etc.), it does not seem to be getting the problem addressed in an expedited fashion. I would look to work with other NRC board members to keep the pressure on National Grid to address these issues in a prioritized fashion. I do have some ideas that may not have been pursued that could move this process along and look forward to sharing these as well.
SR: There have been a few meetings about potential changes at Morses Pond. What do you think should be the top priorities as they relate to shoreline erosion, the beach area, and protecting the town’s drinking water?
Martin Jay McHale: I recently attended an update to the project to improve the beach and surrounding areas at Morses Pond. I believe that, in addition to creating a beach front that is more user friendly for people of all ages, that considerable thought has gone into addressing shoreline erosion and protecting the town’s drinking water. I look forward to being an active participant in this conversation as plans move forward to make these changes in the next few years.
SR: How do you think the North 40 should be utilized?
Martin Jay McHale: Difficult to say, as I am not aware of any efforts to actually try to utilize any of this land other than for its current passive recreational use. I would not be opposed to looking to convert some small (10%) portion of this land to active recreational field use, but would first want to see that all other active recreational fields are being utilized to their potential prior to any changes to the North 40.
SR: Is there anything else you would like to say that the above questions did not cover?
Martin Jay McHale: Just a few things about me: I’m married to my wife Shelley, and have two boys attending WHS and WMS; semi-Retired after 35+ years in financial services (last position was 10 years as President, U.S. Equity Services at Computershare, based in Canton, MA).
Board Chair – Action for Healthy Kids (Focused on mobilizing school professionals, families and communities to take actions that lead to healthy eating, physical activity and healthier schools where kids thrive – 150,000+ volunteers nationwide); Co-Chair – Wellesley ABC’s “Home of Our Own” – Capital campaign to purchase a new home to continue the program in Wellesley; Advisory Board – Infant Welfare Society of Chicago (providing health and dental care to underprivileged women and children in Chicago); University of Chicago: MBA, Finance;DePaul University, Chicago: BS, Finance; Advanced Executive Program – Northwestern University/University of Western Ontario; Hobbies include biking, running, and golf.
SR: How should voters reach you if they want more information?
Martin Jay McHale: Thanks in advance for your consideration and support, and I encourage you to reach out to me at [email protected] if you have comments, questions, or would like to support my campaign.