In advance of the annual town election on March 29, Winchester Patch is posting Q&As with the Board of Selectmen candidates who are running for election or re-election to the board.
The following Q&A is with Brian O’Connor, who is seeking re-election to the Board of Selectmen. O’Connor has been on the board for the last six years. Douglas Wilkinson and Douglas Marmon are also candidates.
Why are you seeking re-election?
I have experience being at the table and I have a vision for financial management. When I started on the board we were in a financial crunch. We had $2 million in free cash and now last year that numbers was up to $8.5 million. We need to find ways to have money to use for education the municipal government. This is not the time to walk away.
What’s your opinion on the override?
This is a worldwide problem. It’s not just a Winchester phenomenon. If we want to maintain the quality of life, education, be able to take care of seniors, clear the roads, and so on, we need it. This is a well thought out plan. The School Committee, Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee all agree on the numbers.
I’ve basically run business all my life. And you have to have a vision, not just three years down the road, but what the town will look like down the road. We need to figure out how to attack health care and energy costs.
We need to improve productivity. We have to find ways to do more with less. We can’t go the next three years and spend the same rate as before. We need a strategy. But these problems have not been caused locally, and by comparison, Winchester is in pretty good shape.
I think it’s important for people to look at the as an opportunity to invest in the town and to maintain the quality of life that we currently have.
What’s your opinion on the schools and the school buildings?
We want people to live here and not just drive through it. One of the big drivers to live here is that we have a great educational facility and we need to protect that quality of education. We need to continue to help education and that will help maintain housing values. We compare ourselves to towns like Wellesley and to hold on to that we need to invest in our schools. An investment in our schools is an investment in our town.
Then where do you stand on the school budget?
I agree with the four percent increase. I believe the Superintendent knows the numbers. He’s worked with the Town Management and the Board of Selectmen. They’ve worked on health care issues and now town employees are paying more of the health care costs.
But it’s important to look at the whole compensation, and not just the paycheck. You have to include benefits in that. And I think a four percent change is good, it’s what it’s supposed to be.
What are your thoughts of parking metes in the town?
I’m not a big fan of The study is trying to get more cars out of the busy areas or the red zone. But we need to focus on parking lots and the fees people pay there. We need to look at the Wedgemere Station. We have to take a look at the economic payback of meters. I’m not convinced that, financially, that’s the way to go.
To read the Q & A with Doug Marmon
To read the Q & A with Doug Wilkinson