Civics Sunday: Meet the Candidates – Finance Committee
Four candidates are running for the THREE open seats on the FinCom submitted statements. All the candidates submitted a statement to help voters make informed choices on May 24th.
The statements appear below in alphabetical order by last name.
Daniel Alfred – Incumbent
My name is Daniel Alfred and I am running for re-election to Holliston’s Finance Committee. I have served on FinCom since 2012 and worked in financial services my entire career. I earned my MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill and hold the CFA designation. Currently, I work for a regional bank investing in loans to other companies. The need to make prudent investments in my professional life is directly applicable to making financial recommendations to Town Meeting. I strive to make recommendations that ensure Holliston is wisely spending your taxpayer dollars.
Since joining FinCom, my recommendations have helped strengthen our balance sheet, funded elimination of the Trash Fee, increased spending to maintain our assets, and continued funding of our retiree health care liability. These actions helped drive two upgrades to our credit rating, last year to AAA (and recently reaffirmed!). This puts Holliston in a great position to borrow for potential future capital projects like a new High School (which I strongly support).
- Economic Development: Holliston needs to drive diversification of our tax base by increasing commercial tax base. Proposition 2.5, and reliance on residential taxes, has resulted in tight budgets. I consistently advocate for long-term sustainable growth through near-term investment. Business development downtown is crucial to our Town’s economic vitality even while maintaining its historic charm. Putting in a downtown sewer district will drive new business development and expand our commercial tax base; making our downtown even more attractive will increase foot traffic for businesses that we love and want to thrive. The cost must be manageable and funded without tax increases.
- Schools: Both my children attend HPS. Our schools are one of our most important assets, attracting new families and keeping our property values strong. A good relationship between FinCom and school community is extremely important and something I have worked on diligently. During my tenure on FinCom I have been a strong advocate for investment in our schools and will continue to do so.
- Parks: Holliston has fantastic parks, fields, and green spaces and we need to ensure that they are well maintained and meet residents’ needs. Unfortunately, the town has fallen behind on this. I have been part of a working group that created a plan for a grounds division that improves the maintenance of these assets, including at the Schools. I am proud to have voted to support this funding for Town Meeting’s consideration.
- Mental Health: Across the town departments have requested funding related to mental health. We need to come together and use a “Whole of Holliston” approach to financially supporting our goals for addressing mental health issues.
- Water Infrastructure: Holliston has recently invested more than $17 million in our water system; including a water treatment plant at Well #5 which is expected to clean up most of the brown water issues and comes online this year. I am proud to have supported this investment and have advocated for a fiscally sustainable plan to replace our aging water pipes.
- Sustainability: Holliston must take actions that are not only fiscally prudent but also demonstrate leadership in sustainability. I am proud to have supported a number of sustainability initiatives including the creation of the sustainability coordinator position and the purchase and LED conversion of our streetlights.
- New Revenue: In addition to investing in our Town’s infrastructure to help create growth we must actively pursue other revenue streams including: solar facilities and cannabis facilities.
I ask for your vote on May 24th, 2022, so that I may continue serving Holliston. For my full statement: https://www.facebook.com/alfred4fincom.
Daniel Alfred, 315 High Street
I moved to Holliston in 2011 and started my family here. My husband and I currently have three children in the public schools – two at Miller and one in Placentino. My mom also lives with us, relocating in 2014. I have spent my time in Holliston finding ways to participate in our community; to date, it has been in those areas that directly impact my children or my work. I am now ready to participate in a larger way that will support my neighbors, young and old.
I currently serve as the Executive Director of the Medway Housing Authority. I am an attorney and have operated a small business since 2010. HSF Consulting LLC provides financial and management technical assistance to Public Housing Authorities. In these roles, I navigate uncertain funding environments dependent on government subsidies. I am responsible for managing day-to-day activities, operational and capital, while increasing reserves to government guidelines. This includes identifying needs, matching those with resources, and implementing activities following release of the Congressional or State Budgets.
I am the Chair of the Holliston Housing Authority board having been elected to that board in 2018 and 2021. During my tenure, we negotiated a partnership with the Framingham Housing Authority to provide leadership and increase resident services to Holliston’s seniors and families while reducing expenses. I ran for the Housing Authority board because I knew I could contribute, impacting the quality of life for Holliston residents while ensuring fiscally sustainable operations.
During COVID with meetings online, I was able to observe the Finance Committee and Select Board and gained an understanding of how our town budget came together. Listening to the weekly meetings during the 2020 and 2021 budget cycles, there were many times that I had questions that were unanswered. Reviewing the budget presentations, I found that my analytical skill set enabled me to efficiently dig through the schedules. I began speaking to friends and neighbors about the budget presentations and realized that there is a large divide of residents who are highly informed on the budget or really not at all. With my 15+ years of experience with budgeting, my goal is to participate in community outreach to engage more residents in Holliston’s finances.
I am running for Finance Committee this election season because I believe my skill set will bring a fresh perspective coupled with experience to quickly learn the specifics of municipal finance. My goal is to strike a balance between long range planning while meaningfully addressing the issues Holliston is challenged with today. I believe our financial decisions must positively impact the quality of life for our neighbors, our Town and be sustainable for continued improvement.
Thank you for taking your time to read this and learn about my interest and experience. I appreciate your consideration and ask for your vote for Finance Committee on May 24, 2022.
Hayley Fetrow, 55 Kingsbury Drive
Vincent Murphy – Incumbent
Dear Holliston Friends and Neighbors:
My name is Vincent Murphy and I am running for re-election for a third three-year term on Holliston’s Finance Committee.
I am happy to provide you some background information. I have lived in Holliston for over 24 years with my wife Julie, who is a lifelong Holliston resident and a graduate of Holliston High School. My wife and I have two wonderful children, Robert, and Kaitlyn, both of whom were students of the Holliston French Immersion program and also 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 first ran for Finance Committee six 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.
In my opinion, the Finance Committee’s role is 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. Therefore, any capital expenditure requests and/or increases in the Town’s operational budget are reviewed by the committee and only recommended to the Town Meeting after the requests are carefully considered and weighed against all the other requests received. Then the Finance Committee makes recommendations which will be reviewed and discussed by the attendees at the Town Meeting.
There are issues that the Finance Committee will be facing in the upcoming months and years, including the following:
- A possible new facility for the Highway and the Water Departments and funding to build it.
- The funding needs of the school system, including the possible replacement of the high school.
- The needs of the various departments of the town, including increasing staffing.
- Continued review of processes within the Town, such as central purchasing, and outside of town, such as shared services with surrounding towns.
- The water infrastructure repairs and replacement and repairs and installation of new sidewalks and the necessary funding.
- The management of the unfunded retirement benefits of the employees of the Town, such as the town employee’s pension expenses and the other post-employment benefits (OPEB).
I believe with my education and experience, I 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 24, 2022.
Vincent Murphy, 432 Norfolk Street
Kenneth Szajda – Incumbent
Since I’m limited to 600 words, I’ll start with the executive summary: My name is Ken Szajda and I’d like your vote to re-elect me to the Finance Committee.
For those who are unfamiliar with me or my background, I live at 676 Fiske Street, I am the father of three wonderful daughters and have been residing in Holliston since 2000. I hold three degrees in electrical engineering, all from MIT, having received my doctoral degree a few years before moving to Holliston. My professional work has been primarily in the semiconductor industry, initially in senior technical leadership roles, but most of my career has been in senior/executive management roles where I manage budgets and improve operational efficiency while continuing to provide technical guidance.
I serve on the Finance Committee because I believe in giving back to your community. For me, I view the Finance Committee as the best way to give back since it is a natural fit with my analytical background, my experience managing budgets and technical projects, and my ability to present complex material clearly and concisely.
During my tenure the town has reached several important financial milestones even in the face of recession and pandemic: reserves have been strengthened, debt has been reduced, annual capital funding has increased, and mechanisms have been put in place to address long-term pension and benefit obligations. All this has been achieved while increasing service levels in several departments without requiring regular operational overrides and without burdening future generations of Holliston residents. Town Meeting support for these efforts has resulted in Holliston’s new top-level AAA rating.
The next three years will be transformative for Holliston. The Envisioning Future Holliston group is working towards creating a new master plan for the town. There are large commercial projects being considered that will force us to decide whether we want to remain a “bedroom community” where residential taxes provide most town revenue, and how much commercial development is appropriate for our town. Decisions that will come from these and other efforts will have significant impact on the operational budget as town services at all levels align with Holliston’s vision for the future—in addition to the challenges we already face from higher inflation and the limits of proposition 2½. On the capital side, the School Department will continue looking at upgrading or replacing Holliston High School. The Select Board will be discussing several high-dollar projects including construction of a new DPW facility, water infrastructure upgrades, and sidewalk improvements. The potential debt from these projects will impact residential tax bills for decades. Having an experienced Finance Committee will be essential to ensure that the town continues to receive well-researched, unbiased recommendations that meet future needs while maintaining the good financial practices that have been established. Making these recommendations is not just a matter of knowing budgets and finance—one must understand the story behind the numbers to make the best decisions. This requires knowledge of the inner workings of the many different services that the town provides, the ability to do independent research and analysis, and the communication skills necessary to articulate the basis of your decisions to town residents and Town Meeting. As the Finance Committee Chair the town has seen me demonstrate these abilities at every Town Meeting for several years (for those who haven’t, you can watch recent town meetings here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=holliston+town+meeting). I hope that I have proven the value of my skills to the residents of Holliston during my time on the committee and would be honored to continue working on your behalf for three more years.
Kenneth Szajda, 676 Fiske Street.
Thank you, as always for giving residents the opportunity to read, at their leisure, about candidates running for office. Finance Committee is a very important committee to the towns people. Very careful careful deliberation by voters. These articles allow that. See you at the polls!