Ashland town elections will be held on Tuesday, May 21. This year two committees have contested seats: Planning Board and Selectmen. Kate Jurczyk and Trisha Kendall are vying for one five-year seat on the Planning Board and four candidates—Adam Elbirt, Brandi Kinsman, Joe Magnani and Jane Stefanini—are vying for two three-year seats.
Candidates running for uncontested seats are Charles Lidtz for Board of Assessors; Paul Kendall and Erin Williams for School Committee; Bonnie Mitchell for Library Trustee; Diane Mortensen and Judi Teller for Board of Health; and Adam Shuster for Town Meeting Moderator.
Ashland Local Town Pages asked candidates for contested seats to answer the following questions: Why are you running for office? What qualifies you? What do you hope to accomplish if elected? Read their responses.
My family stressed the importance of community service, a value I carry into adulthood. Serving on the Planning Board is a way to achieve broader civic engagement, working together to build a Town that makes us proud and builds upon democratic processes that value everyone’s contributions.
Since moving here in 2004, I have followed key issues related to planning, zoning and other important matters in town. Through ongoing participation, I have gained a broad understanding of Ashland’s challenges and opportunities. I completed Citizen Planner Training [Training for Massachusetts Planning Boards, Boards of Appeals and other municipal officials involved with land use and housing]. I have 20 years’ experience evaluating construction documents, examining site plans and balancing multiple project priorities. I hold a Massachusetts Unrestricted Construction Supervisors License. Most importantly, I have taken the time to learn Ashland’s zoning laws.
I will engage the community so the public understands the importance of zoning and how it impacts their homes and neighborhoods. I will encourage the Planning Board to continuously analyze that we are maintaining fair public processes. I will enlist neighborhoods, developers and experts to create a viable system for ongoing reevaluation of Ashland’s zoning, giving Ashland a system we deserve based on an open, publicized and well-understood process. I will advocate to update Ashland’s Comprehensive Plan, the process where we verify our Community Standards and set a plan that values Ashland’s character. With the community behind it, the Plan makes it easier for developers to bring projects to town that the citizens support.
Perhaps it’s unusual, but I do not have a specific agenda that inspired me to run for Planning Board. I do, however, feel that I have a strong set of skills and experiences that would serve the Ashland community well. As Massachusetts registered architect, I am interested in design and planning at all levels, and I understand the importance of looking both at the big picture and at very specific details. I believe that well-designed buildings and towns planned with vision enhance all aspects of a community, from economic strength to individual wellness. Smart economic growth allows communities the freedom and opportunity to shape themselves as they desire. However, the build environment must be balanced with the natural one. Ashland obviously has a strong interest in preserving its open space and creating opportunities for its residents to enjoy it. As a LEED-accredited architect (LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) and a former member and chair of the Sustainability Committee, I strongly believe in preserving these assets as well. Ashland has been my home for almost 15 years. My husband and I settled here because we saw so much promise in the community, and we wanted to be a part of it. Now, my professional office is located here, we have kids in the school system, and we dedicate time to work with others to make Ashland an even better place.
I am running for a position on the Board of Selectmen because Ashland is at a critical time where the choices we make will shape our future identity as a community and how we achieve that vision in the years to come. We must focus on unity; strong leadership is required to reach accord while respecting diverse opinions. I will provide that leadership by listening to, respecting, and understanding different perspectives, giving a political voice to all Ashland citizens so that we make decisions in the best interests of the entire community.
I have been an active supporter of the Ashland schools as a board member of the Ashland Education Foundation, serving four years as president. I have also served in Town government for five years on the Finance Committee, two years as chairman. I have a history of building consensus among people with diverse backgrounds and opinions through leadership and collaboration. I value healthy debate, and appreciate that the most difficult decisions sometimes require uncomfortable conversations.
If elected, my focus as a Selectman will be to provide TRANSPARENCY through honest and OPEN COMMUNICATION, protect and responsibly steward OPEN SPACE through maintenance and targeted property acquisitions, preserve the CHARACTER of our Town by using its unique past to help forge its future, MINIMIZE THE TAX BURDEN on seniors and financially vulnerable families through tax abatements and pursuing state and federal funding, and be ACCOUNTABLE for my decisions.
My husband Dave and I have lived in Ashland for the past 13 years and our son, Nate, is in 6th grade at Ashland Middle School (AMS). I believe very strongly that these next few years will be critical in determining our town’s future for decades to come. I am running to continue the current positive momentum by emphasizing strategic planning, economic development, community engagement and improving communications.
Over the past four years I have become much more involved in our town, and have a deep love for our community, its people and the organizations that make Ashland a great place to live. My experience includes the Ashland Redevelopment Authority, The Corner Spot, the Strategic Planning Advisory Group, the AMS Site Council and Arts! Ashland Alliance. I also have over 18 years of marketing, sales, and project management experience in financial services.
As a member of the Board of Selectmen, my top priorities will include:
Creation of thriving centers of commerce in Downtown and along Route 126
Support of existing businesses and expanding the tax base by attracting new businesses
Encouraging citizen engagement and creating a culture of volunteerism
Improving communication between the town and residents
I believe the Board of Selectmen can benefit from a fresh, positive perspective that reflects the diversity of our town. I know I have the vision, energy, and experience to help shape Ashland’s future and ask for your vote on May 21.
My motivation for running as the incumbent candidate for a fourth three-year term on the Board of Selectmen comes from my prior experience on the board, a devoted sense of family, a love for this town, along with the pride felt by the many accomplishments achieved over these past nine years, while striving to keep Ashland moving in a positive direction for the future.
I ascertained leadership-management skills through specialized training as a police sergeant, where I utilized these skills on the Board as its chair for two consecutive years, the BOS appointed Michael Herbert as our new town manager, Michael establishing a great management team, a sound financial plan increasing our Bond rating to highest rating available: AAA. Reserves have increased from $2 million in 2013 to $6 million today, created an OPED trust, increased staffing to the Ashland Fire Department (2016) and Ashland Police Department, (2004), supported the creation of NEW HR and Economic Development Directors without the need for an override.
I support land preservation, during my tenure we preserved over 250 acres of land adding 42 acres to the Town Forest, 120 acres of Rail Transit District (12.5 donated to YMCA), Warren Woods adding 57 acres off Chestnut St, (creating Warren Woods District).
Additional accomplishments: solar farm, turf field at Middle School, combined public safety complex four acres donated by Fafard Co., removal of Cadillac Paint for future three-acre park, along with future school deptartment initiatives. I will continue to support the Downtown Improvement Project and Rte. 126 project.
I thank you for your continued support and your vote on May 21.
Jane Q. Stefanini
As a young, single woman living in Natick, Jane Q. Stefanini knew she wanted to be part of the Ashland community. That’s why, when hearing of a new condominium development project called Spyglass Hill, Jane jumped at the chance to invest. She joined other “would be” homeowners who literally stood in line for an opportunity to purchase a home. She was 23 years old.
While Jane’s career has taken her away from Ashland a time or two, she always returns with a renewed enthusiasm for her town. A New England native and a UMASS/Amherst graduate, Jane has spent the past 20+ years in the real estate industry. Jane displays an endless supply of energy, unmatched industry knowledge, and possesses keen negotiation and management skills. This extensive experience has earned her prominent roles as; Director of Education & Career Development, Relocation Director & Corporate Vice President.
35+ years later, Jane and John Stefanini (of the former Stefanini Bakery in Framingham), their two children, Michael and Giovanna, and two furry rescues, Max and Mia, still live in Ashland. Keenly aware that Ashland ranks #197 of the 351 cities & towns in the Commonwealth for the highest tax rate, Jane is committed to aggressively promoting Ashland to businesses to help reduce the tax burden and fees on residential taxpayers.
Jane Q. Stefanini’s commitment to Ashland means she will develop a winning strategy to encourage commercial growth to bring tax revenue to the town.
© Copyright by Cynthia Whitty, April 2019