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Civics Sundays: Meet the Candidates - Part 2

by The Publishers
May 5, 2019

The candidates for election to the Finance Committee have submitted the following statements to the Holliston Reporter.  They appear in alphabetical order by last name.  Also, each candidate was invited to submit a photo.  If a photo was provided it is included here.

The candidates for election to the Finance Committee have submitted the following statements to the Holliston Reporter.  They appear in alphabetical order by last name.  Also, each candidate was invited to submit a photo.  If a photo was provided it is included here.

Daniel Alfred:

Neighbors, my name is Daniel Alfred and I am running for reelection to the Finance Committee. 

My wife Karla and I have lived in Holliston for eight years. I have had the honor of serving on the Finance Committee since 2012. I believe serving on an elected town board is an important part of civic duty, and find shaping and supporting our town fulfilling.

I earned my MBA at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and hold the CFA designation. I have worked in finance for over 16 years and am currently a corporate credit analyst in Boston.

During my time on the Finance Committee, I have worked hard to maintain a fiscally prudent budget that balances the many different needs of the town while being mindful of the taxpayers’ dollars. I have been integral in helping the town achieve its current sound fiscal position. I hope to maintain this position for the people by continuing to increase our “rainy day fund”, funding our future town-wide liabilities, and increasing money spent on capital spending that the town was forced to reduce during the 2008 recession. I enjoy working with the various town boards and committees to help our town grow and invest in the future of Holliston. 

With two daughters in the school district, I have personally witnessed the strength and innovation of our unique school system. As a parent, continuing to work with the school committee to create an environment in which our students and staff thrive is important to me. I believe we all benefit when strong schools create well-educated citizens who then become contributing, responsible Holliston citizens.

Another endeavor important to me is the necessary updating of town facilities and services. Due to historical budget constraints, the town was forced to reduce spending on the maintenance and modernization of facilities. I will continue to work towards helping the town manage the taxpayers’ money to renovate and revive services and facilities that serve us all. 

Thank you for your consideration, support, and for being involved citizens in our town. I look forward to working with you to achieve our goals and help Holliston flourish.

John 'Jay' Leary, Jr.:

To my fellow Holliston residents,
My name is John “Jay” Leary and I am respectfully asking for your vote in the upcoming Holliston Town elections, as I am seeking a seat on the Holliston Finance Committee.

I have been a resident in Holliston since 1968, growing up in the Queens neighborhood and I now currently reside with my family in the Brentwood area. I attended and am a proud graduate of the Holliston Public Schools and I am a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences in Boston. I have been a practicing pharmacist for the past 38 years and I bring my business knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry to municipal government. My professional experience includes serving as a pharmacy owner, operator, manager, and consultant of both retail and long-term care pharmacy businesses.  My experience also includes the legal profession where I was called upon to testify as an Expert witness in pharmacy practice in both Federal and State courts.  Additionally, I have been an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Preceptor to the Mass. College of Pharmacy for many years.

My experience in municipal government began in May of 2002 when I was first elected to the Holliston Finance Committee (Fincom). I served for 9 years in that position before being elected in 2011 to the Holliston Board of Selectman. During my tenure as a Selectman, I was a regular attendee at Fincom meetings and was the Selectman liaison to the Fincom for all 6 years. My previous experience as a member of both boards gave me a unique look into the many facets of municipal government and finance. This experience, I believe would serve our town well as a member of the Finance Committee.

Our town has grown a great deal over the years and that has created many new financial challenges. I believe the town has done a good job at maintaining financial stability and improving our financial position by being fiscally conservative. This approach has served the town well and I would like to see this approach continue.

Vincent Murphy, Jr.:

Dear Holliston Friends and Neighbors:
My name is Vincent Murphy and I am running for re-election for a second three-year term on Holliston’s Finance Committee.

I am happy to provide you some background information. I have lived in Holliston for 21 years with my wife, who is a lifelong Holliston resident and a graduate of Holliston High School. My wife and I have two wonderful children, both of whom were students of the French Immersion program and graduates of Holliston High School.

Our family has loved all the opportunities this town provides. I coached pop warner football when my son was young and enjoyed watching my daughter on stage in many theater productions. We have supported town businesses with our children spending many years in karate and theater, both activities run by Holliston Business Owners.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Financial Economics and an MBA with a concentration in Accountancy and I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). 

I have worked in the non-profit sector for over twenty-five years in the Accounting and Finance Departments of various organizations. At those organizations I have overseen the development of the budgets, and ensured the financial reporting is correct. This experience has provided me with skills that have helped me as a member of the Finance Committee.

I ran for Finance Committee three years ago when I felt it was time to get involved in town government,
and with my experience in developing budgets and my CPA license, I thought the Finance Committee
was a great place to best utilize those skills to help the town.

The Finance Committee’s role is, as the Holliston Reporter's Civics lesson article on the Finance Committee noted, to be “the fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers” of Holliston. It is the duty of the Finance Committee to ensure that the Budget is developed in a responsible manner and that any requests of capital expenditures and/or increases in the operational budget are reviewed by the committee and only recommended to the Town Meeting after the requests are reviewed and if necessary adjusted.

There are issues that the Finance Committee will be facing in the upcoming months and years, including
the following:

  • funding of the water infrastructure repairs and replacement, including the water treatment plant;
  • continued review of processes within the Town, such as central purchasing, and outside of town, such as shared services with surrounding towns;
  • funding needs of the school system, including the possible replacement of the high school; and
  • the management of the unfunded retirement benefits of the employees of the Town, such as OPEB.

I believe my education and experience will be helpful to the Finance Committee and the Town of Holliston in addressing those issues.

I welcome your questions and invite you to reach out to me. I would appreciate your vote for me for re-election to the Finance Committee on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

Ken Szajda:

Although I have been serving on the Finance Committee for many years, I have never been asked to summarize my candidacy in less than 500 words—most people know that I rarely keep anything to less than 500 words.  So I’ll start with the basic information:  My name is Ken Szajda, I live at 676 Fiske Street, and I’m running for the Finance Committee.  Academically, I hold a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT and have lived in Holliston for just under 19 years.  If I had to categorize myself, I would say that I am a hyper-analytical, hyper-logical person who enjoys using my analytical skills to improve myself and the world around me.

My primary qualification for the position I seek is that I am the current Chairman of the Finance Committee and have served in this role for several years.  Anyone who has watched or participated in Town Meeting recently has seen me at the start of each meeting; for over a decade I have opened each meeting with a financial overview that summarizes the activity of the Finance Committee, presents the rationale behind our recommendations, and reviews all of the warrant articles that have financial implications.  I have been on the Finance Committee through many financial ups-and-downs, including the Great Recession, and have the experience and knowledge to continue to shape Holliston’s financial future.  

While I have been a member of the Finance Committee, the town has made great financial progress, including:

  • Elimination of the $200/year trash fee;
  • Growth of a capital funding base (from $0 when I started to (likely) $1.8 million in fiscal year 2020);
  • Creation and implementation of a funding plan for our long-term benefit liability that should result in full funding by 2033;
  • Purchase of the 1750 Washington Street building (a net savings of over $5 million over the projected cost of renovating the Flagg School);
  • Reduction in the town’s debt, with most of it eliminated by fiscal year 2023;
  • Installation of the downtown traffic lights with no additional tax burden to the town; and
  • Elevation of the town’s bond rating by two levels.

As a member of the Finance Committee my guiding principle is and has always been “value”—always making sure that town funds are being spent wisely.  To me, every financial recommendation from the Finance Committee is a cost-benefit analysis where the focus is on making the most of every dollar spent.  

I am seeking another term because there are still challenges on the financial front.  The town’s operating budget, while significantly improved, has not yet reached a point where I would call it fully sustainable.  There are potential major capital projects on the horizon.  As I say at every town meeting, lots has been done but there is always more work to do. 

To me, serving on the Finance Committee is my way of giving back to my community, and with the community’s support I look forward to serving Holliston’s taxpayers for another 3 years.

 

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