Municipal Spotlight: New Town Moderator Thrives on Public Service
May 28, 2016 05:00PM ● Published by Kenneth Hamwey
Town Moderator Mike Carr
Michael Carr and public service are a dynamic partnership. The 47-year-old Carr, who’s lived in Bellingham for the last 15 years, was a library trustee for three terms and is now in his final year as a school committeeman, a post he’ll yield in 2017, when he’s up for re-election. At last month’s town election, the Texas native, running unopposed, received 698 votes (second place was a tie) and now will serve the town in a third venue—Town Moderator.
“I’m a big believer in public service,” Carr emphasized. “I’m proud of the achievements we made during my nine years as a library trustee and, although we faced challenging and difficult decisions during my first four years on the school board, I’m pleased with the time and effort we devoted to issues like closing Macy School, re-configuring the grade alignment at the high school and middle school and hiring a new superintendent. Public service enables one to help people and also the community.”
A lawyer by profession, Carr works at the Statehouse as chief of staff for State Senator Jamie Eldridge (Middlesex-Worcester District). Before joining Eldridge’s team, Carr was the general counsel at the Statehouse for the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
Acutely aware of rules and regulations, Carr, who’s married and has three children, knows his new post as moderator will require specific awareness of Town Meeting procedure. “There are lots of rules and ways to proceed at Town Meeting,” Carr noted. “I’m sure my time serving two departments in town and my legal background will be a plus. I chose to run for the post because it’ll give me a chance to continue with public service when I leave the school board.”
As Moderator, Carr’s two primary functions are to run Town Meetings and to appoint residents to the Finance Committee when vacancies occur. He vows his style will be fair and objective. “My job at the meetings will be like a traffic cop,” he said. “I’ll enforce rules, maintain order, be fair and respect all opinions. When appointing FinCom members, I’ll look for candidates who are fiscally responsible, open-minded, willing to analyze numbers and ask tough questions. It’s all about getting people who’ll be good stewards of our town’s finances.”
Before Carr’s arrival in Bellingham in 2001, he spent time in Austin, TX; Lansing, MI; and Warwick, RI. Born in San Antonio, he graduated from high school in Austin, then enrolled at the University of Texas, where he graduated in 1992 with a degree in geography (minor in anthropology). Having worked for a law firm to help earn money for college, he became an assistant clerk after graduation for a firm in Austin for three years. Carr later decided a law degree would be beneficial.
“I enrolled at Cooley Law School in Lansing and got my juris doctor in 1999,” Carr recalled. “I then moved to Rhode Island to work for a law firm in Providence, but I left after a year and became executive director of a non-profit organization in Boston (Universal Health Care Education Fund). After three years at the non-profit, I later passed the bar exam in Massachusetts, and I’m licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and Washington, DC.”
Carr spends his leisure time with his family and especially enjoys watching his children compete in sports. His oldest son, Alexander, is a high-profile runner for the indoor and outdoor track teams at Bellingham High. “Even at my age, I’m still playing in an adult men’s soccer league in Foxboro,” he said. “I’ve been competing for the last 10 years.”
Carr sincerely enjoys serving and living in Bellingham. “I like the people and I believe our town has well-run government leadership, good schools and a good balance with business,” he said. “In my vocation now as chief of staff for a state senator, I find I’m in a continuous battle for balance, a balance of getting things done but getting them done correctly.”
Bellingham’s new moderator, who assumed the gavel for his first Town Meeting last month, is a firm proponent of public service. Having served with him as a member of the Board of Library Trustees, I can attest to his sense of fairness and objectivity and the way he cherishes service to his community.
Michael Carr is a solid choice to lead Bellingham as its Town Moderator, and he’s a terrific asset for a town he’s called home for 15 years.