Meet the Candidates: Ashland Votes, June 24

Cynthia Whitty
Issue Date: 
June, 2020
Article Body: 

Ashland town elections will be held on Wednesday, June 24. This year there is one contested seat: Preston Crow is challenging incumbent and current Select Board chair Steve Mitchell.
Candidates running for uncontested seats are David Rosenblum for Board of Assessors; Laurie Tosti for School Committee; Carolyn Bell and Kab Rabinowitz for Library Trustee; Ron Etskovitz and Judi Teller for Board of Health; and Lakshmi Krishnan for Planning Board.
Ashland Local Town Pages asked candidates the following questions: Why are you running for office? What qualifies you? What do you hope to accomplish if elected? Read their responses.
Select Board
Preston Crow
I am seeking a seat on the Select Board because Ashland needs the leadership, vision, and openness that I will bring. I have served on the Planning Board for 15 years, have served on the Sustainability Committee and the Upper Charles Trail Committee, and participated in almost every Town Meeting in the past 20 years. On the Planning Board, I’ve always welcomed input from all sides, and have worked to provide information to residents even when I disagreed with them.
My vision is to make Ashland more Sustainable, Affordable, and Livable. Sustainable: we must work to implement the Net Zero 2040 vision. Affordable: we must find ways to live within our budget. Livable: expand treasures like the Town Forest, Riverwalk, and Upper Charles Trail. Combining all three, we must make smart use of town assets, like the Valentine Estate and the old police and fire stations (once the new building is built). With the current COVID-19 crisis, our budget will be much tighter, and we may have to postpone projects, but with responsible use of our reserve funds, Ashland can weather the storm.
Giving back to my community has always been one of my core values. Whether serving on committees, volunteering at my son’s school with the Ashland Dads, working with my church youth group, being a foster parent, or picking up litter at GreenUp Ashland Day, I’m working to make my community’s future brighter. Please vote for me, Preston Crow, on June 24.
Steve Mitchell
Sounds like a cliché, but after nine years, I am still enthused and energized by the work, by community engagement and by the progress that we have made as a Town. During my tenure on the Selectman, I am proud of the many Select Board accomplishments, including our financial policies, stabilization fund balances, AAA bond rating, senior tax exemptions, human services resources, land preservation, infrastructure improvements, Green Community status, and increased public safety staffing. This is why I am running for reelection. To continue to work for a Smart, Safe & Sustainable Ashland.
I have served in both the “official’ and “grassroots” sides of community life: Charter Review Committee, Finance Committee and the Select Board. I am a founding member of both the Ashland Farmers Market and Arts! Ashland Alliance. As I reflect on the past nine years as a Selectman, we have accomplished much. It was not that long ago (2003) that our stabilization account totaled slightly more than $4,000. Today, our primary rainy day account is approx. $7M. Our financial policies will help to weather the pandemic impacts on Town programs and services. Simply, what qualifies me for reelection is a track record of community engagement, collaboration and accomplishment.
[I hope] to continue the work on community-building, issues of sustainability, the balance between development and growth, support for our schools, increasing cultural and recreational opportunities, upgrading our public safety facilities, and insuring access to community services for all of our vulnerable residents, young and old. With the COVID-19 impacts, the vision and work of making Ashland a Smart, Safe and Sustainable Community become even more critical. For more info, go to:
Board of Assessors
David Rosenblum
I am running to be a member of the three-person board of assessors. I am at the end of my first three-year term on the board. I have completed the extensive state online training for this. My background is in computer systems for registries of deeds, where property deeds and plans are filed. I should mention that I am an Ashland homeowner and, of course, receive tax bills.
I enjoy serving on the Board of Assessors, find the details of property assessment, abatements and exemptions to be very interesting and feel this a good way for me to serve the town in our local town government. It is important that I acknowledge the town professional assessor and the assessing department able staff. I am privileged to have gotten to know them and the other members of the board.
School Committee
Laurie Tosti
My name is Laurie Tosti and I am running for a 4th term on the Ashland School Committee. When I first decided to run, I believed a quality education was important while raising my own children and I wanted to be part of making education be the best it can be in Ashland. I believe in having high expectations for students and staff, in advocating for resources and spending wisely, and prioritizing well-being for all.
I first ran for School Committee nearly 10 years ago because I believed my skill set was a good fit for the position and I was ready to become more involved as my kids were getting older. Besides having sent four children with various needs through the Ashland Public Schools, I am an attorney and had served on some other school-related groups where I enjoyed being able to contribute and learn. Throughout my time on School Committee, I have been involved in negotiations with the teachers’ union, have been through the superintendent search process, have hired and evaluated superintendents, have participated in policy decisions and have worked cooperatively with a number of different colleagues. I have found it very rewarding to work collaboratively with many talented individuals on many school initiatives, and have appreciated the opportunities to work with others in town government on joint projects. It’s been an honor to hold leadership positions on the committee, vice-chairing for my first two years and chairing for the next seven. I am running again because I love students, I value education, I wish to be of service, I respect my colleagues and have developed a pretty good understanding of the position over time. I look forward to continuing to serve the parents and students of Ashland.
Library Trustees
Carolyn Bell
I know that the public school and the library are important in a democracy—accessible to all—and I believe a library transforms a town into a community. I first ran in 1996 to have computers in the library for kids who didn’t have them at home when others did, and I wanted a better library than one that people ignored and drove by. Then, as trustee, I asked my former student teacher Paul Curran, a prime force in Milford’s new library, how to start. During the process I found that most people will help if invited and after almost 10 years the renovated library opened—with many computers.
On the building committee I pushed for areas for people to meet and talk and not be shushed; I proposed an eating area, wide window sills, and places for people to chat without disturbing others and emphasized that the children’s areas had to be sunny and warm, different from the previous children’s room.
On the selection committee for a new [library] director I wanted a person in the position that people would know, unlike other libraries whose directors stay in their offices. Having a director with Paula Bonetti’s abilities, competence, and tact has made our library welcoming and well run.
I have been on the building committee and am on the donor committee. An English teacher at Ashland High School, now retired, I have continued to discuss books and films by working the book sale for many years and running the Friday Night Films for more than 13 years. I also started and maintain the Free Magazine Exchange in the lobby.
I see dire challenges to the library in funding and use of public spaces. We will have to rethink some of our processes, and I anticipate that technology will become even more important. Paula and her staff will have hard work ahead. As trustee I want to support them and want to maintain accessibility to library resources and continue the bond of community.
Kab Rabinowitz
I am running for library trustee because I love the library and have been a trustee for about 20 years. As to what I hope to accomplish, the other trustees and I are concerned about the future of the library, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had been anticipating having a bit more money to spend on programs and materials, and now of course, we are facing budget cuts. We need to plan how to run a library with “social distancing.”
Boa rd of Health
Ron Etskovitz
I am a current three-year member of the Ashland Board of Health and a practicing podiatrist for 30 years. I have enjoyed being a Board member and upholding our mission, to protect the public health of the citizens and visitors to Ashland. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished during my time on the Board. Particularly, banning flavored tobacco products before the state mandate and amending where and how tobacco products can be sold and distributed to help reduce underage access. We are continuing to improve essential functions, such as increasing the frequency of food establishment inspections, developing a plan to implement vaccinations for school age children and adults and meeting virtually to update and review town policies regarding COVID-19.
The Board is responsible for more than I initially recognized. We review town landfills and the Nyanza site to make sure they are as safe possible. We played a role in limiting town activities due to the threat of EEE last fall. Food establishment inspections, review of septic systems, grocery store inspections, monitoring tick/mosquito borne illnesses, pool inspections and many other aspects pertaining to public safety and health are under our purview.
If re-elected I will continue to work collaboratively with other town officials to keep our town safe for everyone. I am involved with the Decisions at Every Turn coalition to reduce youth smoking and drug use. I strongly advocate for funds to be appropriated for increasing the hours of our part time nurse. Thank you for consideration.
Judy Teller
I have volunteered for public service most of my life. I have held positions on the Ashland Affordable Housing Committee, Ashland Business Association (past president) and the Framingham State University College of Business Advisory Board, to name a few.
One year ago, a Board of Health member stepped down from the Board mid-term. I ran for the position, won the election and was appointed. During my first year, our Board successfully communicated and managed the EEE virus situation and now we are managing our way through the Covid-19 pandemic. To say it has been baptism by fire would be appropriate.
I believe I bring a strong set of skills to the Board qualifying me to help shape the changes we’re making. I am very process-oriented and have an extensive background in communications and management. I have found that looking at how things were done in the past, and where necessary reworking the process to make it more efficient and effective has served the Board and the Town well.
There has never been anything like this pandemic in our lifetime and I am proud to say that the Board is relentless in our pursuit of putting regulations, laws and processes into place, as well as enforcement of such to ensure the safety and protect the health of the citizens of Ashland.
I ask for your vote so that I can work to keep the momentum going on the important work that lies ahead for the Board of Health.
Planning Board
Lakshmi Krishnan
I have been a resident of Ashland for the past 20 + years. I have raised my kids here and have cherished being part of this town. Over the years, personal/professional life permitting, I have tried to be involved in the town whether be it being part of Ashland Cultural (chair for 2 terms), AEFI, Farmers Market, Corner Spot, etc. The town governing body and other public officers/members have impressed and motivated me to contribute more, and that is why I am running for office. I have always believed that you need to be part of the change and not just watch it pass by.
I am a CPA, who works as VP of tax at an insurance company in Boston. My profession has trained me to analyze an issue, research the relevant facts/law/regulations and design a solution or conclusion. The Planning Board reviews proposals and makes sure they benefit the town and meet local/state/federal regulations. I am confident my professional skills and vested interest as an Ashland resident qualifies me to run as member of the Planning Board.
Ashland is a very vibrant town. Its landscape and demography has constantly been changing in the past few years. Future projects include Ashland YMCA, Main Street modernization, Eversource pipeline, etc. As a member of the Planning Board, I will work with and support the other members to help review and make decisions on any proposals brought before the Board regarding these projects. Also, I will make sure that new developments are constructed according to local/state code and benefit the town and its people.