Candidate’s Absenteeism is a Bad Sign

The following letter appeared in local newspapers and is shared with us here by the author Michael Chambers. Mr. Chambers is a member of the Charlestown Zoning Board.


When the voters select a candidate to represent them, they expect that candidate to set aside personal preferences, to represent the populace at all committee and council meetings, and to act as a positive force in solving critical issues facing the town.

The CDTC should ask how well their candidates have performed over the past two years. Setting aside personal preferences for the good of the town is difficult, but doable. Representation at town meetings requires the candidate to attend regularly scheduled meetings. Finally, working to solve problems is more important than partisan politics. For these reasons, I cannot envision Brandon Cleary as one of the top six candidates for Town Council.

Mr. Cleary has written in his personal campaign statement for a seat on the Town Council, referring to his time on the Planning Commission, “I believe I have been an effective member of the team and served well in my role as alternate member.” Meeting attendance by Mr. Cleary suffered greatly. Anyone who thought that casting a ballot for Mr. Cleary would help bring the Planning Commission closer to land development were sorely misinformed because Mr. Cleary’s absenteeism was extreme. Of the forty one meetings he could have attended, he missed fourteen or one out of three. If he keeps this track record going, he may as well become a snow bird. That isn’t what this town needs – a part time presence.   If Mr. Cleary cannot make the Planning meetings, how can anyone expect him to make it to Town Council meetings? He should realize that he can’t be effective if he is not there.

When he did attend meetings, did he help resolve issues? During the two years Mr. Cleary served on the Charlestown Planning Commission, he alone voted against affordable housing for seniors. Church Woods, an affordable housing complex for seniors, is now close to fruition as a result of the hard work of many public officials and volunteers. This will be an asset to Charlestown. Turning down Church Woods would have greatly weakened the Town’s position with respect to the state affordable housing law and opened up the entire town to more opportunistic developers, who propose high density housing, free from the constraints of local planning and zoning. Later, Mr. Cleary could not support the open space purchase of the LeBlanc property on Route 1. That parcel was the largest unprotected and undeveloped piece of the Charlestown moraine remaining today. The Charlestown moraine is an internationally recognized geologic feature and the ecosystems it supports are unique. Thanks to the leadership of Tom Gentz, George Tremblay and Dan Slattery, it is now preserved and will be a signature landscape for Charlestown for generations to come. In opposition to the open space purchase, Mr. Cleary actually marched in lock step with Paula Andersen and Frank Glista who encouraged him to run for the Planning Commission.

Finally, Mr. Cleary’s value to the work of the Planning Commission remains to be seen. Only Mr. Cleary can attest to his preparedness for meetings that he did attend. After two years on one elected committee, does Mr. Cleary think he is ready to participate in Town Council meetings even if he does show up?

Michael Chambers