Natick residents didn’t exactly overwhelm Town Hall in taking out nomination papers to run for a short-term seat on the Select Board: Rich Sidney alone will be listed on the ballot for a Sept. 13 special election.
The opening on the five-member board resulted from Karen Adelman-Foster resigning this past spring to take a job with State Sen. Karen Spilka. Adelman-Foster’s replacement will only serve through March, and then that seat will be on the town’s annual election ballot for a full three-year term.
Lone candidate Sidney will be a familiar name and face to many in town, as he’s lived here for 35 years. He’s been active in town affairs and politics, starting with July 4th parade involvement as well as campaign work for State Rep. David Linsky.
Sidney became a Town Meeting member and really earned his stripes via 10 years on the Natick Finance Committee and by taking part in the Charter & By-Law Review Committee. He once ran for School Committee, but has never made a bid for a Select Board seat.
Sidney says he’s not running based on any hot button issues, but does bring the perspective of someone who understands how local government works. He also has an appreciation of issues important to seniors now that he’s of a certain age.
When Adelman-Foster stepped down Sidney said he asked around to find out who might be running for the seat and was told “It ought to be you.” Sidney pulled papers after checking with others he thought might run but weren’t.
The Select Board will have some key issues to discuss and decisions to make in the fall (possible override? Town Governance Study Committee report, etc.) that really warrant having a full board, and “for which there should be somebody who knows how the town runs,” said Sidney, a mostly retired software engineer who works part time as a chief technology officer.
Sidney says it’s important for Select Board members to understand how to work with the town’s administration and Town Meeting. “I understand all the lanes…what lane the Select Board resides in, what School Committee resides in, etc. I know how all the board fit together,” he says.
During his time as a Town Meeting member, Sidney felt comfortable speaking about issues and found that people would listen. “I bring my values, but I don’t have a personal agenda.”
Not to get too far ahead of things, but Sidney expects he would run again in the spring for what would be one of two vacant seats (Michael Hickey’s term also ends). “I’d welcome a campaign, I’d welcome debates,” he said.
Sidney isn’t optimistic that there will be a big turnout for the Sept. 13 special election, which is sandwiched between a state primary on Sept. 6 and state election in November. But he’d like to see Natick make efforts to encourage more participation in town government. Bigger turnout could go a long way toward addressing divisiveness at the local, state, and national levels, he says.