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Grant Elected & Martinis Reelected to Board of Selectmen

Jun 01, 2020 03:00PM ● By Pamela Johnson
Shown above are Selectman Candidates (L-R): Bob Biagi, Kelly Grant and Don Martinis

In our ongoing effort to provide residents with the information they need to make informed decisions, the Bellingham Bulletin has published profiles submitted by the three Selectmen candidates. Following, in alphabetical order, are the unedited profiles for candidates Bob Biagi, Kelly Grant and Don Martinis.

Bob Biagi

My name is Bob Biagi and I am seeking re-election to the Board of Selectmen. Having served a one-year term, I am eager to continue the momentum and experience I have gained over the first year.

I have resided in Bellingham with my wife, Pam, for our entire marriage of nearly 26 years.  During this time, we have raised three children, and I have been involved in varied efforts within our great town. I was a regular volunteer in school wide events, often leading behind the scenes; I have also been a Scout leader and a youth sport coach. My efforts, along with others, are responsible for the construction of the Kasper Park playground at Silver Lake, and the resurgence of the Bellingham Educational Foundation.

My career has been in analytics, with the last 15 years as a remote employee for a major healthcare organization. I believe in the power of analyzing data in order to develop the best solution for complex issues.  A critical input to reaching the correct solution is to use as many data points as possible. This is where you, the residents of Bellingham, are most important. I pride myself on my ability to listen and integrate what I hear into the opinions and conclusions that I form. This position requires an open mind and the willingness to alter your opinion based on the facts presented; my promise is that I will continue to listen.

We live in a vibrant time for our community. It is important to strike a balance so that we are a sought-after destination for growing families along with our well represented senior community.

The three biggest challenges we face, in no particular order, are public safety; schools and a balance between residential and commercial/industrial development.  Here is where I stand:
Public safety is job #1 for a municipality. We must ensure that our departments are properly staffed and have the resources to perform this admirable duty.

Education is critical to the success of our town; and we must remember that education starts at home!  Raising children with manners and respect is imperative, and equally as important is that they are led into the hands of caring teachers and staff in our public schools. Our teachers need to be put into a position to succeed with proper resources and funding.
A municipality’s largest source of revenue comes in the form of taxes.  We have a dynamic CFO who understands the “ins and outs” of the system and has been a tremendous asset to our town. I am fortunate enough to learn from her and will listen and understand more daily.  Our town is properly zoned, and we must take advantage of the growth opportunities that are presented.

My position on the proposition 2-1/2 override ballot question is that it is important that the residents decide on what funding is needed for our schools and our town, and that is why I voted in favor of the issue being present on the town wide ballot.

Let me close by saying that it has been a tremendous privilege holding this seat for the past year. I have learned much and will continue to seize the opportunity to learn more.  We have great leadership in place, whether it be our Town Administrator, our CFO, our heads of various committees or directors of departments along with my colleagues on the Board of Selectmen. I hope you give me the opportunity to continue on the Board, and that the next three years will further solidify your confidence in me.
Remember YOUR town is MY town!

Kelly Grant

Bellingham Residents,
My name is Kelly Grant and I am one of the candidates for a Three-Year seat on the Bellingham Board of Selectman. My husband Frank and I moved here fourteen years ago and Our two children both attend Bellingham Memorial School. We could not be prouder to call this community our home.

After working for fourteen years as a Certified Senior Advisor and Elder Care Manager in Boston, I changed careers, working as a paraprofessional in various school districts. Currently, I am an instructor for an art studio locally, where I am able to combine my love for creativity, teaching and giving back positively to my community.

Over the course of the past seven years, I have been involved in various organizations and committees. I have been a member of the Town of Bellingham Finance Committee and Capital Improvements Committee for the past five years. Through these positions I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and information about how the town functions, where our funds come from, how they are spent and the struggles we face to make ends meet. In addition to these committees, I have been a part of the Bellingham Master Plan Implementation Committee for the last year and a half, working together with all the boards and committees to draft our next ten-year plan. Over the years, I have met and worked with all the incredible and hardworking departments throughout this town, who truly keep us running. Having young children in the schools has also given me the opportunity to volunteer, specifically as being part of the PTO at Stall Brook Elementary and Fundraising Coordinator with the PTO at Bellingham Memorial School.

Now more than ever we need strong leadership to help guide us through. As a member of the Finance Committee and Capital Improvement Committee, I make my decisions based on facts and numbers. I have the knowledge, accountability, and commitment to work for the residents of Bellingham. I support the democratic process that is allowing the School Committee to put the proposition 2-1/2 override question on the ballot. I support allowing the residents of Bellingham to have a voice in the decision to increase their taxes.

I have enjoyed reaching out to our citizens and organizations to hear their concerns about the issues that face us and look forward to continuing. I support finding ways to help our students and school district I support finding ways to help our senior citizens and the needed renovations to the Senior Center.  I have been a strong supporter of infrastructure improvements and hope that we can find ways to start these much-needed projects.

In closing I would like to say that it is truly an honor to serve this town and to get to know its residents. I am ready to serve Bellingham in a larger capacity and welcome the opportunity to earn your vote on June 9.

Don Martinis

First, thank you all for the opportunity you have given me over the last 6 years to serve our community as member of the Board of Selectmen. I hope you will support of my bid for re-election so that we can build on the momentum and success of my previous two terms. 
As a 35-year resident, I have always been committed to seeing our community and its families prosper. My wife Deana and I grew up in Medway, but CHOSE to raise our family in Bellingham. We are passionate about our town. Deanna and I have raised four children here and each one—Kyle, Kristin, Kevin and Kayla—went through the Bellingham school district. Naturally, I am a strong advocate for our schools. As a Selectman, I have consistently supported the school district, our school committee, and the actions they have taken to improve the opportunities available to our children.

Over the years, the school department has entrusted me with the responsibility of serving on Superintendent and Principal search committees for the High School and Stall Brook Elementary. I also volunteered for Operation Graduation in 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2020 so that seniors could celebrate graduation with their friends in a safe and fun environment. Additionally, I have dedicated countless hours to the children of Bellingham while spending 40+ years coaching and serving in leadership roles for youth baseball, softball, soccer and basketball. I also served as a religious education instructor at St. Blaise.

I believe my primary responsibilities as a Selectman are to work with and provide guidance to the various administrative offices of the town while at the same time providing transparency and access to all members of our community. It is only in this manner that the town can truly respond to the needs of our fellow community members.

In my view, the town of Bellingham is like a company: the CEO of our company is our Town Administrator and our Selectmen are the board of directors. As such, the Selectman are responsible for hiring and overseeing the most talented and effective personnel to operate this municipality—most notably and recently the CFO and Town Treasurer.

Typically, the most significant responsibility of the board is the formation and management of the town’s budget. Budget preparation, review, approval, and management are vital to the town’s operation.  With 6 years of experience on the board, I have developed a complete understanding of the process necessary to manage our town in a fiscally responsible manner. 
During this election, there is a Proposed 2.5 override question, which includes $1.5 million dollars to support the budget needs of our schools.  Like all of you, I do not want an increase in my taxes, however, the town has a responsibility to create a safe, clean community while providing our citizens with the resources and support they need to thrive. We must balance commercial and residential development and provide proper funding for our school department to provide our kids the opportunity to learn, compete, and prosper.

Bellingham has never had a Prop 2.5 override and in the past several years, the town has been managing our community with a limited budget. Despite these restrictions the town has successfully completed some important upgrades including the construction of a new Police Station, a water filtration facility, and a senior center. We have also appropriated tens of millions of dollars to support road improvements. Our Police and Fire departments have done a fantastic job during this time considering they are short staffed. To properly support Bellingham, the fire department needs an additional 8 firefighters and the Police Department need an additional 5 officers. I support increasing staff, but where will the funding come from?
Bellingham has the lowest tax rate compared to 16 surrounding towns; our residential tax rate is 32% less than the average. Our town’s senior tax write-off program is approximately $125,000 annually and we offer significant trash and water discounts for the seniors. This is accomplished through a split tax rate: residents pay less than our commercial partners. Many seniors move to Bellingham due to the low cost of living, various senior programs and our proximity to shopping, the MBTA, and hospitals. I am very happy they chose Bellingham and will continue to support them.

The financial impact of the override will be $160.00 annually based upon the average home value here in Bellingham of $345,000. That’s 43 cents per day, a fraction of the cost of a cup of coffee. Although my youngest child is graduating this year, I will not turn my head from supporting the members of our community, especially the children, whose future depends on what we do. We must continue to support our youth’s education, which will have a direct impact on our community as a whole. It is well known that there is a direct correlation between school performance and home values. When schools perform well, home values increase.
This will not be my first time voting on an important, complex issue. I know that to improve our community, we need to develop an adequately funded budget that remains fiscally responsible.   We cannot make further improvements and manage our town with a budget that is limited and inefficient. For these reasons, I support the override.

I have always voted in a manner that will be most beneficial to our community. If reelected, I will work to expand economic development, better utilize our 100+ miles of roads, improve the senior center, construct a new DPW building and resolve increased traffic issues. I am also committed to developing a plan to safely and responsibly reopen businesses during the pandemic. Prioritizing and achieving what needs to be done is complex and requires a pragmatic, experienced voice for the town.

Knowledge and experience are fundamental to successfully leading our town through this period of great uncertainty. This is not a time to learn on the job. I love our town and the people that make it great. I have no political agenda and no aspirations beyond serving as your Selectman. My only objective is to support the current and future needs of Bellingham.
I have a proven track record and am not going anywhere. #Bellinghamstrong




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