2009 Questions to the Candidates

Questions to the Candidates

On this page you'll find the answers provided by candidates in the 2009 Saugus local election to the questions posed by readers of Remember that candidates are not required to participate at all or answer any particular questions. Remember also that these answers are directly provided by the candidates themselves do not reflect's official standing in any matter. If you are a candidate yourself and would like to participate, be sure to see the candidates' information page.

The questions themselves were:

  1. What are your thoughts on the proposed charter?
  2. Do you have any ideas about how to reduce expenses?
  3. What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing the Town of Saugus in the next two years?

and a freebie question:

  1. What else do you think is important?

Town Charter

We have also contacted the committees for and against the proposed charter and asked them to submit short arguments defending their views.

Points For the Proposed Charter

The Saugus Charter Commission sent the following numbered list:

  1. Voters Will Have More Say And Greater Access: The proposed charter will restore power to the voters and give them far more access to government than they currently have. Citizens can petition the assembly with just 10 signatures, have two mandatory public forums each year, and speak rights.
  2. Elected Officials Will Be More Accountable Through Annual Staggerd Elections: Elected officials will be more accountable to the voters through clearly defined responsibilities and obligations, annual staggered competitive elections and with initiative, referendum, and recall procedures.
  3. Conflict Of Interest Laws Will Apply To All Officials And Town Employees Will Not Be Able To Hold Elective Office: No longer will town employees be able to serve on elected bodies that determine the budgets out of which they are paid. For the first time in Saugus, the state conflict of interest law will apply to all elected officials so that no elected official will be able to vote on any measure in which they or their family member have a financial interest.
  4. A More Responsive Legislature: The Assembly will be able to call itself into session and deal with issues in a more timely manner, thus avoiding delays that have led to costly borrowing as well as inaction on critical matters of finance such as the recent defaulting on the Vocational School budget.
  5. Stronger Fiscal Controls: Required financial planning, revenue forecasts, and budgetary controls to ensure that funds are not misspent or wasted.
  6. Required Capital And Land Use Planning: Saugus elected officials must develop plans for its buildings and resources. Mapping the future will reduce wasteful spending and maximize revenue opportunities.
  7. Improved Budget Process For School Department: The school department's needs will be heard by elected officials at the beginning of the budget process and not in the middle. The school department will participate in capital planning, town manager screening, and the select board chair will be the sixth non-voting member of the school committee to enhance communication.
  8. Mandatory Charter Review: Rather than wait another 60 years, the new charter has a mandatory review process every five years. Revisions, additions or deletions will be much simpler to accomplish.
  9. Professional Management Will Be Retained: The day-to-day operations of the town will still be administered by a town manager and NOT a mayor. There will still be a five member select board that will establish policy and a separate legislature that will have less committees than town meeting now has.
  10. Yearly Performance Review Of Town Manager: Like all other communities in Massachusetts, the Saugus Town Manager will now receive a yearly performance review on goals established by the select board you elect.

They also encourage readers to view their Web site:

Points Against the Proposed Charter

The Saugus Committee to Preserve Our Town sent the following numbered list authored by Bob Long:

  1. The Charter Commission has clearly failed to demonstrate the need to change from our current charter to a radical new form of government.
  2. If voted, the Commission's proposed but untested hybrid charter, while making Saugus a city, comes with many assumptions but no proof or guarantees that it will work.
  3. If voted, the cost of implementing this proposed Charter is conservatively estimated to be $240,460 per year and $1,202,300 over five years because of new staffing and committee needs.
  4. If voted, the charter will not bring in any additional revenues, but local services could be reduced to pay for new charter costs.
  5. If voted, the charter's new assembly/council will bring bigger government and a bureaucracy unneeded and unnecessary.
  6. If voted, the new at-large assemblers / councilmen will result in some neighborhoods having less representation on such important issues as local zoning changes.
  7. If voted, the promised transparency could be easily lost through the assembly/council system of standing committees due to lack of public notice.
  8. If voted, the proposed assembly / council would be controlled by politicians and subject to greater pressure from outside special interest groups.
  9. If voted, the critically important function of issuing licenses will be removed from elected officials and placed in the hands of appointed officials perhaps less subject to public scrutiny.
  10. Most importantly, our current charter, like our state and federal constitutions, can be amended to accommodate any reasonable and desired changes.

They also encourage readers to view their Web site: