Letters to the Editor
Anne Paulsen, Former Selectman
I am writing to support Jessie Bennett for the Board of Selectmen.
Jessie is a person who is enthusiastic about Belmont. She knows that being a selectman in Belmont is more than analyzing the finances of the town government. It is more than serving as liaison to town boards. It is more than presenting a fiscally responsible budget to Town Meeting and reacting to proposals that are moving through the town process.
The selectmen are our leaders. They should provide a vision for the town.
Jessie’s opponent has stated that his experience on the Warrant Committee provides him with unique experience to serve as a selectman. The Warrant Committee, a group of 15 citizens appointed by the moderator, is a fiscal watchdog and the town is grateful for their service. They reach out to the town departments, analyze their budgets in preparation for the annual budget and submit an advisory report. But the town employs an administrator, a budget director, an accountant, a professional assessor and elects a town treasurer. The selectmen also rely on them for financial information and recommendations upon which the Board of Selectmen can establish policies and provide direction for the town.
We need fiscally responsible leaders who are also civic leaders. We need people who listen to the citizens and act on their input. We need selectmen who reach out to the community and mingle with the citizens. We need a selectman who will engage in the civic life of the town, supporting the arts, recreation and cultural activities.
Jessie Bennett is the candidate who satisfies those requirements. Jessie is a doer and she is also in Belmont during the day. She is willing and able to participate in “on the ground issues” that most of us face in our daily lives. Since Jessie has children of school age, she has focused on school issues. Safe Routes to Schools, PTO President. But she also stepped up to work on traffic issues and impacts on neighborhoods from the construction of the new high school. She has been an effective spokesperson for her neighborhood which she represents as a Town Meeting member.
And, we all know that diversity on our boards is important. This year we have the opportunity to elect a capable hardworking sensible woman to the Board of Selectmen.
Vote for Jesse Bennett on April 2.
John Bowe, Town Meeting member, Precinct 6, Elizabeth Rd.
I am writing to urge you to join me in supporting Jessie Bennett for Board of Selectmen.
To me, the effectiveness of any organization is all about the mix of skills and perspectives of its members. In my job leading a few software groups, when we hire new team members, we always look to how a new person will contribute to the effectiveness of the entire team and mission of the larger organization. Belmont is now hiring a new team member.
We have two very strong selectmen who will remain on the board. They are from the legal and business professions, with key experience on the Warrant Committee and School Committee. Add to this the professionals the town employs, to professionally manage and advise on financial, planning and personnel issues. Belmont has benefited greatly from all of these.
Jessie Bennett will bring another perspective, with different, but very relevant, professional and Belmont experiences. She will add a new dimension to the capabilities of the board and provide further channels to reach more members of our community. This will both serve the community better and will recruit new energy and expertise into town government.
We have all seen the longs lists of qualifications of the various candidates. Jessie has demonstrated leadership in bringing subtle and not-so-subtle improvements to our lives in Belmont, including the new high school, safer streets, school fundraising and support and local transportation policies. She brings communications and outreach skills never seen on a Board of Selectmen.
Please join me and my family in voting for Jessie on April 2.
Michael Crowley, Warrant Committee Member, Farnham St.
I’m writing to support Jessie Bennett for Selectwoman.
Jessie is a deeply collaborative community leader — someone who understands our town’s finances, is prepared to oversee construction of our new school and will help get the Community Path built. She’s exactly the right person for the job.
As a member of Belmont’s Warrant Committee, I have a deep appreciation for our town’s financial affairs. Knowing Jessie, I can tell you that she does, too. She’s as prepared as anyone I know to lead on our town’s financial policies. Don’t underestimate her knowledge — she is not a person who needs to get up to speed.
For many years, Jessie has helped lead organizations and made real-world budget decisions — not just analyzing numbers or advising others. Former selectmen will say that no experience on town committees can fully prepare you to be a selectman, but I put stock in Jessie’s financial acumen and collaborative decision-making approach.
One of Belmont’s biggest challenges over the next few years will be the successful construction of a nearly $300 million new school to house our high school and middle school. Jessie and I worked together on the Yes for Belmont campaign. Jessie knows more about the details of this project than anyone else I know. She’s exactly the person we need on the board to help make this project a success.
Building the Community Path — and getting more people out of cars — is one of the ways we can tackle our traffic woes. Jessie understands this as a member of the High School Traffic Advisory Committee and Transportation Advisory Committee. She’ll help make the Community Path a reality, instead of the pipe dream it has seemed for so many years.
Jessie has been such an important community leader for Belmont. She helped lead the Yes for Belmont campaign to educate and build support for the construction of a new school. She’s been co-president of the Burbank PTA. She’s on the Board of the Belmont After School Enrichment Collaborative and the Foundation for Belmont Education. She’s a Town Meeting member and serves on Belmont’s traffic and transportation committees.
Jessie is well versed in listening to diverse viewpoints, bringing her own experience and judgment to the table, and shouldering decision-making. These are all of the qualities we need in our Board of Selectmen.
This is why I’m supporting Jessie Bennett for selectwoman. I urge you to do the same.
Dana Miller, Marsh St.
That is the Jessie Bennett I know. I have worked with Jessie as part of three different efforts to address town traffic concerns, and I know she would make a very successful selectwoman. Jessie is a pragmatic optimist who sees Belmont’s challenges as opportunities to strengthen our community. She invests herself fully in her efforts to better Belmont. She takes the time to completely understand problems and thinks creatively about solutions. Because she is intuitive, perceptive and empathetic, Jessie brings out the best in others.
As the chair of the newly formed Transportation Advisory Committee, I have observed that Jessie brings to the group her knowledge of Belmont’s neighborhoods and streets, her substantive observations and suggestions and her wonderful gift in understanding other committee members and their perspectives.
To the High School Traffic Working Group, Jessie brings information that she gained from her independent research and her participation in workshops and seminars. When our group discussions have wandered off topic, Jessie’s thoughtful comments have helped refocus group efforts.
When faced with volumes of data to digest and synthesize in the newly formed Complete Streets Working Group, Jessie familiarized herself with comments collected throughout town — and then sought more detail on those comments and the underlying issues that prompted the comments.
Jessie has a proven track record that demonstrates her commitment to work hard for the betterment of our community. She is already actively involved in so many aspects of our town leadership — both in the schools and town government — that she has a deep and broad perspective of the challenges we face.
As a selectwoman, Jessie would strengthen our town. Because we need town leaders with smarts, resourcefulness, commitment and strong people skills, I will vote for Jessie Bennett to be our new member of the Board of Selectmen.
Jamie Shea, Town Meeting member Precinct 6, Washington St.
I am writing to offer my support of Jessie Bennett for Board of Selectmen. I can think of no better candidate for this important office.
A parent of two children in the Belmont Public Schools, Jessie has proven herself extremely committed, not only to supporting high-quality education at her neighborhood school but also to providing equal access to educational experiences throughout the district. Her commitment to education is expressed through her work on the Foundation for Belmont Education board and as an active participant in the Belmont High School Building Project. She worked tirelessly as part of the Yes for Belmont campaign to help secure funding for the project.
I first met Jessie through her tireless work with the Burbank PTA, where she served in nearly every capacity, including president. As an integral part of the board, the Burbank PTA was able to reach extensive project goals, to come up with new communication strategies to reach the entire school body and to encourage volunteerism from throughout the school community.
I have worked with Jessie in many different capacities — on the FBE board, the Burbank PTA, in conjunction with my position on the Belmont High School Building Committee and as a Belmont educator. In every instance, Jessie has demonstrated that she has an open-minded and collaborative approach to problem solving and an ability to act proactively and thoughtfully.
I feel strongly that Jessie will make a terrific addition to the Board of Selectman and help Belmont underscore its strengths and overcome its challenges.
Janet Sand, Hammond Rd.
It speaks volumes to me that the pictures of current and previous selectmen that hang in the Board of Selectmen meeting room are almost exclusively men. And the photograph of the current School Committee shows a board entirely comprised of women.
The message? Women care about children. Men are competent and knowledgeable when it comes to running a town. Does it matter? Yes. This is the face of our town.
We all agree that experience counts. It impacts the range of skills and experiences that we need on the Board of Selectmen.
Jessie brings the perspective of a woman living in Belmont, the skills not only to make policy but to communicate in a way that brings people together, the leadership skills honed in the schools as PTA president, on the after-school board, on the Foundation for Belmont Education and she brings experience leading hundreds of volunteers.
Jessie has been an active, engaged Belmont citizen long before she joined town government. She is smart, principled, financially savvy and highly qualified to be selectwoman.
But the Belmont I know is slow to change. The Boston Globe once called Belmont the most boring town in Massachusetts. Many projects in town take years and years to accomplish. Just look at the community path, which has taken decades to get going in earnest.
We need a selectwoman who knows how to get things done and we must welcome new diverse voices if our town is to grow.
Let us move forward.
Peter Dizikes, Town Meeting Member Precinct 1, and Mary Lewis, Randolph Street
Jessie Bennett has been described as a “new” face in the campaign for Belmont’s Board of Selectmen. But there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with her work. After all, Jessie was an integral part of the 2018 Yes for Belmont campaign for the 7-12 school, as well as the 2015 Yes campaign for the ballot measure that has improved Belmont’s schools, finances and roads.
Jessie Bennett believes in strong schools, careful fiscal planning and good town services. She also believes Belmont works best when its citizens are informed and involved. As part of the Yes campaign leadership, Jessie was extremely well-versed about the complex fiscal and educational issues at stake. As a result, she was highly effective at translating information onto the campaign web and social media pages, so that we as Belmont citizens could make important decisions about our town’s future. Did you click on the Yes for Belmont website or Facebook page in 2018 or 2015? If so, you walked away better informed, thanks to the efforts of Jessie Bennett.
It’s also possible you’ve met Jessie thanks to her many other roles in Belmont civic life, including Town Meeting member, member of Belmont’s Transportation Advisory Committee and High School Traffic Working Group or her work on the boards of the Foundation for Belmont Education and the Belmont After School Enrichment Collaborative.
In our case, we’ve also seen Jessie in action as an excellent co-president of the Burbank PTA, where she has vastly improved communication with families, increased membership, conducted fundraising and outreach for Burbank’s innovative garden classroom, worked on pedestrian safety measures and helped run the award-winning Burbank Walks program and implemented free child care for families during PTA meetings. In this last gesture, Jessie made a big value statement: every family matters, regardless of its ability to afford a babysitter.
Jessie has always worked with great energy and thoughtfulness. She listens, gathers information, analyzes and decides based on community input and firm facts. This is the leadership style that Jessie Bennett will bring to the Board of Selectmen: a commitment to education, family, equity and affordability; the drive to get things done; and the belief she is in office to serve all residents.
Please join us in voting for Jessie Bennett for the BoS on April 2.
Amy Kirsch, Jason Rd.
I have had the pleasure of volunteering with Jessie in two leadership roles that focused on online communications, where she is widely recognized as a valuable source of information on townwide projects and issues.
As co-leader of social media for the YES for Belmont campaign, Jessie was able to work her communication and social media magic. She became an expert on the issues and offered clear explanations of complicated topics. Jessie made sure that everyone had accurate and timely answers to their questions.
I also worked closely with Jessie as co-moderator for the Belmont Massachusetts Parents Facebook group, https://bit.ly/2XnvAL6, — Belmont’s online community of residents for parents and grandparents, and a very active conversation platform. Jessie’s communication skills have helped bring together over 2,700 Belmont residents into a real community — residents who would likely never meet in person are now familiar and more neighborly. Everyone online knows Jessie and values her clear information and caring approach.
I believe that Jessie is uniquely able to help our town government communicate better with residents, provide clear and transparent information on the website and incorporate widespread resident feedback in decision making. Jessie puts her all into what she does and adds insight, knowledge and opens thoughtful and productive conversations with everyone with whom she interacts. She is an amazing townwide volunteer and resource.
Please join me in voting for Jessie Bennett for selectwoman.
Sara Masucci, Scott Rd.
Jessie Bennett is a first rate communicator. Through her many community leadership and government roles, she has worked with and built relationships with, many hundreds of Belmont residents. She converses regularly — in person and online — with a broader swath of Belmont residents than most leaders.
That means that Jessie truly understands the concerns of the people of Belmont beyond her friends, beyond her neighborhood. She leverages social media to engage with people she might never meet. She sees how the interests of different groups connect. This allows her to genuinely speak about the breadth and depth of what people in Belmont care about.
You go into public service to help people. Jessie already does that. For six months during the YES for Belmont campaign, Jessie answered hundreds of questions for people looking for information to make their decisions. She attended the meetings. She did the research. She learned everything there was to learn. And she put herself out there.
As we embark on the important task of strategic planning for the town, it is crucial that we have a leader like Jessie on the board. Jessie understands the issues, the projects and the numbers. But equally important, Jessie can bring our ideas and priorities — yours and mine — into the boardroom because she is listening. And she cares.
Jessie is a natural leader. It shows in everything she does. And it will make for a more diverse set of ideas and more effective decision-making on the Board of Selectmen.
Please join me in voting for Jessie Bennett for selectwoman on April 2.
Laura Caputo, Town Meeting member, Precinct 8, Oliver Rd.
I first met Jessie in a parenting workshop several years ago. In the years since, I have seen her in action at Town Meeting and community meetings. In both arenas, I am struck by her genuine interest in digging deep on issues, considering all perspectives and coming to an informed conclusion.
I came to appreciate Jessie even more through working with her on the 7-12 school. Jessie built a robust web and social media presence to communicate with town residents. She thoughtfully answered hundreds of questions. I appreciate how she can research an issue, understand it on a deep level but also boil it down to clear language and convey it to a wider audience.
As a moderator of the 2,700-plus member Belmont Parents Facebook group, Jessie has developed a keen sense of the frustrations that people have with the town of Belmont, whether it is the implementation of the new trash and recycling program, the removal of trash cans at town fields or the concerns about pedestrian safety in town. Jessie relates to these issues and helps bridge the divide between those in the town boards, committees and departments working on solutions and those in the community living with the outcomes of our policies. There are few in town as genuinely committed to getting information out to residents — she finds and shares the answers that residents want and need but cannot find.
We need someone with Jessie’s communications skill set on our Select Board. In addition, as only the fourth selectwoman in the 160-year history of this three person board, she would bring an important perspective in service of our town.
April Edrington, Elizabeth Rd.
That’s great, you say, lots of people help out in Belmont; that’s what makes our community great. I mean something different here. Jessie has good ideas, yes, and is articulate in communicating them. But she also listens with serious and respectful attention to neighborhood concerns, works with residents and the town administration to find means of dealing with the issues and becomes a leader when action is required for implementing needed changes.
Jessie is just as likely to roll up her own sleeves for the good ideas of others as she is to support her own. I trust her judgement because I know it is always based on careful consideration of the facts and on community input, because she is on the ground where the problems exist. Over and over again, people praise Jessie for her hands-on approach and for her diligence, hard work and dedication in getting things done on their behalf.
How refreshing it would be to have Jessie working on the Board of Select[wo]men.
Jessie has proven herself time and again with her persistence and careful querying about matters large and small. She listens to people, asks questions until she gets answers and follows through. Jessie understands what representative government is. She is unbiased and doesn’t bind herself to political cliques or voting blocks in town. She works tirelessly to advance the well-being of all of Belmont. She doesn’t dwell on her past successes and solid resume of experience. Instead, she gets things done.
These are just some of the reasons I’m with Jessie. Please join me on April 2 in voting for Jessie Bennett for Belmont Select[wo]man.
Paul Rickter, Member of the Warrant Committee Town Meeting member, Precinct 8 Cross St.
I’m happy to support Jessie Bennett because she has a wonderfully open and collaborative leadership style that will be perfect for Belmont. In my experience working with Jessie through the years, she would be a selectwoman who knows how to make sure every voice is heard, who knows how to trust the work of the many committees that are essential to moving forward and who will lead in a new way that will be refreshing. It’s exciting to imagine how a leader like Jessie will perform in this role.
As a member of the Warrant Committee, I know how important it is to understand the finances of the town. We are in the midst of making crucial budget decisions that will have wide-ranging impacts in the years ahead. That’s why I’m delighted to support Jessie, who has the financial acumen and the real world experience to understand both the numbers and the stories behind the numbers.
Please join me in voting for Jessie Bennett for selectwoman on April 2. We have an opportunity to elect a new kind of leader and I hope we take advantage of this opportunity.
Julie Crockett, Precinct 5 Town Meeting member, Trapelo Road
The Board of Selectmen should be a collaborative, consensus-building body. They must work together for the people, regardless of who gets the credit. I have taken time to meet each candidate individually. Jessie has the problem-solving capabilities and “people skills” necessary to step right in. She also has the ability to listen to others’ ideas and explore varied perspectives. She demonstrates that she can be an independent voice and doesn’t shy away from tough decisions. Jessie is hands-down who we need sitting at the selectmen’s table with Tom and Adam.
Claus Becker, Town Meeting member Precinct 5, Poplar Street
Belmont is largely run by volunteers, to whom we should all be grateful for their contributions. That is why an effective leader of Belmont needs to be able to foster collaboration and build consensus. This isn’t just about being nice; all those volunteers save our town millions that we could not replace with tax dollars. The difference between being on a committee and leading a town, is that it no longer matters so much what you do as what you motivate others to do. So, when I choose whom to vote for, I don’t look for a candidate who claims credit for what were mostly team efforts, I look for someone with a record of getting fellow Belmontonians engaged. Jessie Bennett is that candidate.
Laurie Graham, School Committee, 2008-16, Town Meeting member, Precinct 6, Warwick Road
Jessie Bennett values, supports and advocates for the issues I most care about: educational opportunities for all students; safe streets and traffic calming; climate change and environmental sustainability; senior services and housing.
Education: Jessie was instrumental in making the vote for the 7-12 school an overwhelmingly successful reality. She spent years following and studying the project and an intense six months sharing her knowledge, listening to residents and answering questions. She cares deeply about children and education and for the last eight years she has been a major force in the school community.
Pedestrian safety: Jessie is on the Transportation Advisory Committee and has been a leader in the Safe Routes to Schools endeavor, working collaboratively with town departments to join the Complete Streets state grant program that will help pay for sidewalks and solutions for pedestrian safety.
Sustainability: Jessie helped shepherd school and system wide recycling initiatives as a PTA leader. As a community advocate, she understands the power of collaborations between town departments, committees, and volunteers to move the needle on consumer adoption of climate action initiatives. Jessie is an example to fellow residents of how we can get involved and make a difference on the things we care about.
Housing: At the numerous Planning Board meetings about the McLean “senior directed housing” proposal, Jessie has been an adamant voice calling for re-examining the developer’s plans and insisting on the true needs of our community for housing appropriate in price and design for seniors who want to downsize and stay in town.
Jessie is the candidate who is best equipped to deal with the issues that are important to all of us. These require thoughtful conversations that include listening to and considering the opinions of stakeholders and advocates. Jessie has the commitment and leadership style to get things done, to collaboratively work with community groups, to seek out funding opportunities and to make and implement decisions that are fiscally sound and meet the needs of our town.
I know that Jessie is invested in our community and the values we share. Please join me in supporting Jessie Bennett for selectwoman, a leader who genuinely cares about the people of our town and will work tirelessly for the benefit of us all.
Rachel Trousdale, Pleasant Street
I have known Jessie Bennett for more than 20 years — in fact, she and her family were a large part of why my family moved to Belmont. I am thrilled that Jessie is running for selectwoman. She is the kind of leader our town needs: insightful, knowledgeable, responsive, thorough and committed to meaningful dialogue.
As selectwoman, Jessie will be setting the tone for our community and I can’t imagine a better person to do so. Jessie is the kind of friend you call when you need someone to sit with the older kid while you take the baby to the emergency room. Not just because she’ll be there before you can get your own shoes on but because you know she will be level-headed and well-informed in any emergency.
Jessie’s commitment to our community is deep-seated and productive. She cares about others, and she fosters the kind of networks that help communities and their members grow, from education through senior housing. She is one of the best listeners I know.
I am excited to get to vote for Jessie Bennett on April 2.
Paul Roberts, chair of the Information Technology Advisory Committee and a Town Meeting member from Precinct 8
Jessie Bennett’s candidacy for the town’s top office is historic, and not just because she would be the first woman in almost two decades to hold that position (and the first woman ever not-named-Ann(e)). Jessie comes from Belmont’s grass roots. She’s a mother who has worked with the town’s PTAs, the FBE and as a community advocate on the town’s Safe Routes to Schools Committee. Jessie is someone with her eyes open to new ideas and her ear to the ground who will listen to what voters want on issues like education, housing, transportation, fiscal management and climate action. Jessie will be a steady voice for change, transparency and fiscal responsibility in town government. Crucially, she has the skills, charm and political savvy to make change happen. I urge you to vote for Jessie Bennett for Belmont selectwoman.
Emma Thurston, Town Meeting Member, Precinct 1, Baker St.
I’m writing to express my enthusiastic support for Select Board candidate Jessie Bennett. Having worked with Jessie on many projects around town, I am continually impressed by her level of commitment and experience, her ability to build consensus, her outstanding people skills, and her financial pragmatism. She is a tremendous listener and actively seeks out opinions and perspective from others, particularly those who may not always feel heard.
She is a frequent attendee at Belmont High School Building Committee meetings, traffic meetings, Planning Board meetings, Business Study meetings, Selectmen meetings, and likely countless others that I’m not there to witness (and attended these before she decided to run for the Select Board). She is dedicated to pedestrian safety/safe streets and traffic calming, senior services, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, and is a well-known champion for our exceptional education system. I’ve seen firsthand the work that she’s put into these issues and know that she will bring that tireless energy and perspective to the Select Board table.
Jessie was instrumental in getting the high school project passed, and I’m confident that she will be a key player in the success of the project going forward. Her experience in leadership, collaboration, and financial matters will be a tremendous asset to our Select Board. I look forward to voting for her on April 2.
Remember, local elections matter – please take a few minutes to learn about each candidate across all races, and show up on Tuesday!
“We need fiscally responsible leaders who are also civic leaders. We need people who listen to the citizens and act on their input.”
Anne Paulsen, Former Selectman
“Jessie has demonstrated leadership in bringing subtle and not-so-subtle improvements to our lives in Belmont, including the new high school, safer streets, school fundraising and support and local transportation policies.”
John Bowe, Town Meeting member, Precinct 6
“Jessie is well versed in listening to diverse viewpoints, bringing her own experience and judgment to the table, and shouldering decision-making. ”
Michael Crowley, Warrant Committee Member
“Jessie has a proven track record that demonstrates her commitment to work hard for the betterment of our community.”
Dana Miller, Marsh St.
“We are in the midst of making crucial budget decisions that will have wide-ranging impacts in the years ahead. That’s why I’m delighted to support Jessie, who has the financial acumen and the real world experience to understand both the numbers and the stories behind the numbers.”
Paul Rickter, Warrant Committee
“Jessie has demonstrated that she has an open-minded and collaborative approach to problem solving and an ability to act proactively and thoughtfully.”
Jamie Shea, Washington St.
Julie Brody Magid
Julie Schwendiman Crockett
Nina Del Vecchio
Abigail S. Fisher
Kirsten Rodine Hardy
Kimberly Haley Jackson
Diane Beckley Miller
Heather Silber Mohamed
Emily Richmond Pollock
Carrie Roberts Redi
Sandra P. Rosenblum
Stephen Shestakofsky Ruth Smullin
Alix van Geel
Margaret Waters Candace Webb