Doug Gillespie is the Moderator and has been elected for a one-year term to preside at all Town Meetings. He is also responsible for making appointments to the following committees:
Moderator's Statement for Finance Committee Candidates
For individuals considering applying to serve on the Finance Committee, I have the following thoughts about the Committee’s charge and the types of qualifications I am seeking and what you should expect if I appoint you.
Committee Charge. The Committee has an unusual jurisdiction with an importance that goes beyond its formal charge. View the Committee’s web page for details of its duties and formal charge. Most importantly, the Committee is the “official watchdog” committee for the town and advises the Board of Selectmen and town voters on financial matters. As such it is an advisory, not a policy-setting, committee. While its primary purview is obviously, as the name indicates, financial in nature, the official charge permits it to “consider all financial and other questions coming before the Town.” Because of its advisory role, its ultimate power comes through the power to persuade.
Qualifications. A misconception among many people is that a background in finance is a prerequisite. It is not. Oddly enough, reading a town budget is unlike any financial statement an expert would see, and so even those steeped in finance have a learning curve. Nevertheless, candidates should have some comfort and familiarity with basic finance.
The nature of the Committee work is such that candidates must demonstrate an open-mindedness, with an objective posture to address the issues brought before the Committee. I wish to state as clearly as I can that I will not consider anyone with a personal agenda. By way of example only, if you are a parent with adult children no longer in our school system, I will not welcome a candidate who thinks because the family is no longer using the schools, that funding should be cut. In turn, if you are a parent with school-age children, I will not welcome a candidate who thinks because the family is a heavy user of the schools’ resources, that a school-funding cheerleader is needed. Again, it is vital that candidates be open-minded and objective.
Because the Committee essentially does not set policy, applicants must be willing to respect and consider strongly the non-financial policies of the underlying Town committee, board or department. Thus, while I expect the Committee members not to take a position on such policies, I view it as their essential role to assess whether the proposed expenditures to implement such policies are reasonable or expensive. As Moderator, I expect the Committee to vigorously honor its watch-dog role.
I view an important role of Committee members is to probe the respective Town committee, board or department to articulate what their policies, goals, and priorities are for the budget year. I believe this process is important because a set of budget numbers standing alone cannot be analyzed in a vacuum. It is only when the policies, goals, and priorities are clearly on the table that meaningful questions can be asked with an analysis properly made in that context. Under this process, I am looking for candidates willing to ask probing and objective questions who will then listen critically and respectfully.
I look for balance in the Committee in many ways, and I am proud that the Committee is evenly balanced between men and women.
Time Commitment. The Committee’s work takes a big time commitment. While the Committee does not meet in the summer, it starts meeting occasionally from October to January. Starting in mid-January, it meets weekly through early April. In addition, everyone is assigned particular budget areas to review prior to that department coming before the whole Committee. Depending on the area of assignment, this subcommittee work can add from one to three meetings. Plus Committee members also attend other Committee meetings depending on the area of their assignment.
Because it takes new Committee members a period of time to become accustomed to the work, candidates must commit to completing one full term, and I welcome an understanding that two full terms are desirable.
Process. If you are interested in having me consider your candidacy, please write me at Town Hall (PO Box 378, Weston, MA 02493) or email me a short statement of interest to moderator [at] westonmass.org. Resumes or CVs are not needed.
The application deadline is June 29, 2018. After the deadline, I will review all applications and for candidates, I want to pursue, I will call a public meeting, along with members of the Finance Committee that wish to attend, to interview those candidates.
Please contact me by email with any questions.