Covid-19 Cases Falling; Health Director Urges Residents to Continue Testing

The number of Covid-19 cases in Bedford is falling, not only in reality but also on paper.

Mark Waksmonski, the Health and Human Services Department’s public health nurse, reported to the Board of Health Monday that there were 15 cases between Feb. 27 and March 4, from 2,239 tests.  That was about half of the total cases during the previous two-week period, he said.

Preliminary Town Election Results ~ March 13, 2021

Maureen Richichi (Board of Health), Chris Gittins (Planning Board), and Joseph Gilbert (Board of Assessors) were elected to fill vacant positions on town boards in contested races Saturday.

Re-elected in contests were Select Board member Margot Fleischman and Anita Raj of the Board of Health. Both are in line to chair their respective boards when they reorganize.

It’s Election Day ~ March 13, 2021 ~ #GO_VOTE

Bedford’s polls are open until 6 pm today.

If you requested a mail-in ballot, the dropbox in the entryway to Town Hall on Mudge Way will be emptied at 6 pm for voters who deliver their ballots in person today.

If you still have questions, look for the answers in our Election Day FAQ. Otherwise, head over to JGMS to cast your ballot. You might meet a candidate, or see a neighbor!

The Bedford Citizen will post the unofficial vote totals when they are tallied on Saturday evening and then the official result when it has been validated by the Town Clerk.

Final Candidate Pages ~ Complete Information, All in One Place

Candidate links lead to compiled pages that include a full set of information: The candidate’s final statement, video PSA links, letters to the editor, and initial statement.

The candidates are listed in the ballot order determined by Bedford’s Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue.

Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor received after March 8 will be posted separately on Thursday, March 11.

FinCom Agrees to Tap Stabilization Fund to Cover Extraordinary School Expenses

The Finance Committee made some adjustments at its March 4 meeting to try to ensure that the appropriate category of reserves benefits the optimum expenditures.

The proposal that will be presented in the 2021 annual town meeting warrant, scheduled to close March 8, calls for allocating $1.9 million from the stabilization fund to offset spending.

The offset, as approved by the committee, will be linked to the $3 million reserve fund, much of which is designed to cover the schools’ projected request for pandemic “recovery” and out-of-district special education placement expenses.

Candidate Forum Hosted by Bedford’s Democratic Town Committee

Bedford’s Democratic Town Committee hosted a Candidate Forum on Sunday, March 7, for the contested races on the Town’s March 13 ballot: Board of Assessors, Library Trustees, Board of Health, Planning Board, and Select Board.

The unedited recording of Sunday’s Zoom meeting is available on YouTube by clicking the link in the article.

Bedford’s 2021 Town Election ~ Final Candidate Statements and Video PSAs

Final statements submitted by each of the candidates in Bedford’s March 13 election, presented in ballot order.

Statements were due on Monday, March 1.

Thanks to Bedford TV, each candidate was offered the opportunity to share a video PSA; if one was recorded, the link appears beneath the candidate’s statement.

Planning Board Candidates Offer Different Approaches to Key Issues

Differing priorities emerged between two of the candidates for the vacant Bedford Planning Board seat during the League of Women Voters candidate forum broadcast on Sunday.

Armen Zildjian said the cornerstone of his campaign is diversifying housing inventory. Housing affordability affects residents who wish to downsize, “working-class families who built this town,” and people of other socio-economic backgrounds with little or no access.”

Chris Gittins emphasized “proactive” long-term planning, guided by the specific components of the Comprehensive Plan.

Zildjian, Gittins, and Bryan Jean are running for the three-year term on the March 13 ballot. Incumbent Jeffrey Cohen is not seeking reelection. Jean did not participate in Sunday’s forum; there was no explanation.

Youthful Candidate Challenges Long-time Select Board Member

Korben Whitt-Leitner, 19, lives down the street from Margot Fleischman. Growing up, he said, she “has been a great inspiration to me.”

He also wants to replace her on the Select Board.

Each responded to questions and offered statements to lead off the Bedford League of Women Voters candidate forum on Bedford TV last Sunday. Both are on the ballot for a single seat in the  March 13 town election.

Fleischman is seeking her fourth three-year term; she was elected twice to the Planning Board before that. Whitt-Leitner is a 2020 Bedford High School graduate and a student at Norwich University in central Vermont. Norwich is the nation’s oldest private military college. (Contacted this week, Whitt-Leitner said he would transfer to a school closer to home if elected.)

Contrast was exemplified in their closing statements. Whitt-Leitner said the town is beginning “a new era” and needs “a change in leadership, a new way forward, a different type of thinking – someone to push us forward to make us better.” Fleischman asserted that Bedford is “one of the safest communities with an excellent quality of life. We have an outstanding civic reputation as a fiscally well-managed town.”

“I really want to change this town. I worry about what the town will be in the future,” Whitt-Leitner said. He noted that the ethos at Norwich teaches active citizenship and he is following that model. He added that he would like to be Bedford’s first Black Select Board member.

Fleischman said she has tried to be a “voice of balance” and “have used my platform to help bridge differences and come to collaborative decisions,” Those are especially critical as the town moves toward post-pandemic days, she said, when she will continue to “bring to bear all of the experiences I have had as a parent, a taxpayer and a public servant.”

Library Trustee Dennis Ahern Suspends Reelection Campaign

Dennis J. Ahern has suspended his campaign for reelection as a trustee of the Bedford Free Public Library. Citing health concerns in a message to The Bedford Citizen, Ahern expressed confidence that the Town will be well-served by the two remaining candidates, incumbent Michael Pulizzi and newcomer Fahad Alden.

Four Board of Health Candidates but Few Policy Differences

The differences among the four candidates seeking two seats on the Board of Health in the March 13 town election are not about policy.

That was clear Sunday afternoon following a high-level round-table among the four candidates as they answered questions presented by a moderator from the League of Women Voters during a candidate forum.

The virtual event was broadcast live by Bedford TV; it is still available through this link,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofdYRAnOSMI&t=6103s.

Incumbent Anita Raj and newcomers Alison O’Connell, Maureen Richichi, and Catherine Van Praagh agreed that dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic remains the top issue for the board. They all anticipated challenges of managing the recovery from the pandemic and concurred about the effectiveness of the board’s performance. They also were in step about the importance of dealing with mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses.

There will be at least one new board member as Sarah Thompson chose not to seek re-election. 

FinCom Approves ‘Pandemic’ Spending for Schools; Discusses Funding for FY2022 Budget

The Finance Committee Thursday implicitly endorsed the School Committee’s proposal for up to $1,445,000 in supplemental spending to cover “recovery” from the effects of the pandemic, including sustaining personnel and equipment to allow safe in-school learning beginning in September.

The committee by a vote of 8-1 approved a budget scenario that also supported continuing this year’s $450,000 reserve to cover out-of-district costs for students with serious learning needs. The Finance Committee separately approved the base school budget for fiscal 2022.

Discussion will continue at a Finance Committee meeting on March 4 on how to apportion three sources of funding to best cover fiscal 2022 expenditures.

Candidate Pages for the Town of Bedford’s 2021 Election

The 2021 Town Election is replete with candidates — there is someone running for every office, and several offices are contested with more candidates than available positions.

Readers will find all the candidate information gathered on the following page links.

Each of the 17 candidates has submitted initial statements and answered questions posed by the League of Women Voters of Bedford, and if Letters to the Editor were submitted, there are links to them.

SELECT BOARD
One seat for a three-year term
Margot Fleischman (Incumbent)
Korben Whitt-Leitner

BOARD OF ASSESSORS
One seat for a three-year term
Joseph Alan Gilbert
Elliot Lovy

BOARD OF HEALTH
Two seats for a three-year term
Alison Theresa O’Connell
Maureen Richichi
Catherine Van Praagh
Anita Raj (Incumbent)

PLANNING BOARD
One seat for a three-year term
Armen Matthew Zildjian
Brian Paul Jean
Christopher Gittins

LIBRARY TRUSTEES
Two seats for a three-year term
Michael Anthony Pulizzi (Incumbent)
Dennis Ahern (Incumbent)
Fahad Alden

SCHOOL COMMITTEE
One seat for a three-year term
Dan Brosgol (Incumbent)

HOUSING AUTHORITY
One seat for a five-year term
Kim Lovy

REGIONAL SCHOOL COMMITTEE
One seat for a three-year term
Brian C. O’Donnell

Editor’s Note: A final set of candidate pages, complete with each wrap-up statement will post on Friday, March 5.

Bedford Candidate Forum ~ Watch LIVE on Sunday, Feb. 28 ~ 1 to 6 pm

The League of Women Voters of Bedford will sponsor a Candidate Forum for our local election on Sunday, February 28, 2021, beginning at 1 pm. All of the candidates for contested offices have agreed to take part.

The forum format will not allow members of the audience to participate in the Zoom meeting, but the League will take questions in advance at lwvbedfordma@gmail.com.

Bedford TV will show the Forum live at https://youtu.be/ofdYRAnOSMI.  It will also be recorded with indexing and be available on Monday at the Bedford TV YouTube page.

Elliot Lovy: Candidate for Assessor

Hello. My name is Elliot Lovy and I am running for a seat on the town Board of Assessors in 2021. I have lived in Bedford for over 15 years with my wife, Kim, and our three children. My two sons graduated with the BHS class of 2020. My daughter started Bedford High School this year. Go Bucs 2024!

Mail-In Ballots for Bedford’s Town Election Mailed on Thursday, Feb. 25

Preparation paid off: When the mail-in ballots for Bedford’s town election were late in arriving at the Town Clerk’s office, the staff went into overdrive.

“We had the labels printed and sorted when the ballots arrived Thursday morning,” declared Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue. “Using the Select Board office, we set up an assembly line and prepared all 2,128 ballots for mailing.”

The ballots were delivered to the Burlington post office on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 25.

Moderator Cathy Cordes Resigns, Effective March 31

Town Moderator Cathy Cordes will not be presiding at the May 15 annual town meeting after all.

Cordes has resigned, effective March 31, following the sale of her home. She and her husband Ronald, who recently announced his retirement at the end of his term on the Board of Assessors, will be relocating to suburban Philadelphia, close to their son Eric and his family.

Joseph Gilbert: Candidate for Assessor

Hello everyone, my name is Joseph Gilbert, and it would be an honor to represent you on Bedford’s Board of Assessors.  I am a husband and father of two young children.  I’m also a Marine Corps veteran, a graduate of UMass Boston with a Bachelor’s in Finance, and a former realtor.   After the military, I continued my service as a government civilian with the Navy and a defense contractor.  While my family is relatively new to Bedford, I believe my experience and education provide me with both the necessary skills and a unique perspective to execute the duties required by the Board.

I recently became aware of the proposal to remove selection of the Assessors from the public and place the decision solely in the hands of the Select Board.  I adamantly agree with outgoing Board Chair, Ron Cordes, that independence is integral to the Assessors.  While the Select Board is always aligned with our town’s greater interests, they may not always directly align with those of the individual taxpayers in our town. It’s important that all interests are heard, represented, and balanced.  This balancing of interests – an important role of the Board of Assessors – is an important check on the Select Board and is the primary reason the Assessors should remain independently elected.  The feeling of paying our tax bill should be weighed against Bedford’s great services – both perspectives are important, and both should be considered, especially given the changes to Bedford in these unprecedented times.

Select Board Affirms Elected Assessors by 3:2 Vote

The Select Board Monday voted 3-2 to sustain the current elective status of the Board of Assessors.

Members Margot Fleischman, Bopha Malone, and Emily Mitchell voted against proposed bylaw and charter amendments that would convert the position to appointed. Board member William Moonan, who has been an advocate of the change for more than a year, was joined by Chair Ed Pierce in support of including the proposed change on this year’s town meeting warrant.

These amendments would ultimately give appointment power to the Select Board.