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.
Scott Bender is one of two candidates running for a single open 1-year term on the Board of Public Works (BPW). The three-member BPW is made up of local residents. Like other town boards, members of the Board of Public Works receive no payment for their volunteer services.
The Board of Public Works, acting through the Director and Managers of the DPW, helps provide multiple services to the Town such as: engineering and technical services as related to Town Facilities; highway services, including those for roads, sidewalks, and drainage systems; services to parks, recreation areas, trees, and open space; services related to the Recycling and Transfer Facility; services for the Town’s water and sewer systems; and practice sound fiscal practices related to all of the above.
We invited the candidate to answer a few questions about his qualifications and his priorities for the Town of Wellesley. Below are candidate Scott Bender’s answers. A later post will include a Q & A from Board of Public Works candidate Thomas Skelly.
The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for the position?
Scott Bender: As an appointed member of Wellesley’s Sustainable Energy Committee I had many opportunities to work with the Municipal Light Plant and Recycling and Disposal Facility during my eight years on that committee. As an Engineer I have experience evaluating new technology to meet functional and data products to support emerging needs for infrastructure planning and maintenance. As a Product Manager I have successfully managed multiple multi-million dollar projects on time and within budget. My experience with strategic planning and product lifecycle management qualifies me to work with the DPW and MLP teams to further optimize processes in town infrastructure improvement, maintenance and resource utilization, including preparing to mitigate climate change in financially and environmentally compatible ways.
SR: Why are you running for a position on the Board of Public Works?
Scott Bender: As a life-long resident, I am committed to excellence in town-wide infrastructure, responsible resource utilization and fiscal responsibility. The path that led to the DPW started in 2002 when I toured solar homes and became excited to learn about renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation… I was hooked! At the time my house was not suitable for solar but I learned that reducing energy use by ~50% was achievable with short paybacks on investment, and little or no impact on lifestyle. Enthusiastic about sharing this with the community, I joined forces with other engaged residents and together we founded Sustainable Wellesley.
The same year I was appointed to the Town’s Sustainable Energy Committee. In both organizations, I spent the next 10 years engaged in community outreach including organizing a series of seminars, often sponsored by Wellesley’s Municipal Light Plant, featuring programs and incentives targeting residential energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy.I have successfully leveraged Municipal programs to inspire individual action. Now, I am excited to work on the Board of Public Works to develop programs and policies for residential, commercial and municipal sectors. There is a huge financial and environmental win-win opportunity that will enable us all to save money, reduce waste and improve infrastructure. Together with the DPW and MLP staff we can make critical decisions that will improve the quality of life in our town for years to come.
SR: What if any changes would you like to see take place in town as they relate to Public Works?
Scott Bender: I would like to add even more transparency to these boards by encouraging the Board and Department Supervisors to have Wellesley Media record the board meetings so our community has the opportunity to be more informed about all the amazing things the Public Works is accomplishing. With 250+ gas leaks in Wellesley, I intend to educate and encourage our community to move away from gas, as the infrastructure is deteriorating. In addition, having the Wellesley DPW collaborate with other communities I hope to accelerate National Grid’s rate of gas leak repair and pipe replacement.
SR: What are the most pressing needs in Wellesley as they relate to Town services?
Scott Bender: While the overarching priority is to maintain safe, high quality and efficiently maintained infrastructure, there are specific priorities that are important for each:
● MLP- I will prioritize meeting the town-wide greenhouse gas reduction goals. Implementing smart meters, time of use rates in combination with electrification of heating and transportation provides a unique win-win-win opportunity. Electric vehicles and heat pumps generate more revenue for MLP, save money for residents and reduce emissions for the environment.
● DPW – The DPW can prioritize identification of projects to support the towns Complete Streets Policy approved in Spring 2019. Complete Streets promises to provide safe accessible options for walking, biking and transit vehicles to contribute to the safety, health and quality of life in our community.
● RDF – Collaborate on initiatives to increase the financial benefit of the RDF, while reducing our communities’ waste stream. Work to steer Wellesley towards reducing the amount going to landfill, while maintaining the financial benefits the RDF brings to our community. This includes finding additional opportunities for food diversion as well.
SR: What would you like to see achieved in the long-term in town?
Scott Bender: Long term, I would like to see enhanced collaboration between Boards and Committees to achieve town goals and plans such as the Town Meeting approved greenhouse gas reduction goal in the Unified Plan and the Town’s Unified Plan. To this end, I will work with the DPW and MLP Boards and Staff to maintain strategic plans, as well as other Boards to streamline policies and ease implementation of subsequent actions.
SR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t covered?
Scott Bender: The DPW and MLP have excellent staff that I very much appreciate working with over the past years. We have a beautiful town and as a lifelong Wellesley resident I am committed to continuing to strive for excellence in services that the DPW provides to the community.
SR: How can voters get in touch with you?
Scott Bender: Please email me at electScottBender@gmail.com. I am happy to discuss your ideas and interests with our town’s Department of Public Works.