Select Board Candidates

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Guimel DeCarvalho

Paul Joseph

Do you believe Natick’s current form of local government (representative Town
Meeting with a Town Administrator) is serving the best interests of its residents?
If not, what improvements would you consider?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

Natick is changing and we have to understand how the residents’ needs are changing with it. One of the reasons I am running for Select Board is to bring more people to the table and get more voices and perspectives heard in town government. Our current system of government has a tendency to create barriers to that engagement. Who has the time to participate, who gets appointed, and who gets nominated can severely limit how representative our town government truly is. I am open to hearing new perspectives that explore the best possible ways to address these challenges. There may be opportunities to consider our town government structure, including how process improvements within the current structure can better work for all Natick residents.

Mr. Joseph ...

Natick residents can be better served by either (a) improving how Natick operates under its current form or (b) changing the form of government. Simply changing its form of government will not “automatically” better serve the community.
Natick is served by many well-intentioned and talented volunteers; however, the Town struggles to attract citizen participation and candidates beyond a handful (a hardcore, 100-200 “professional citizens”). Engagement and awareness has improved during the pandemic, but will this level of intense involvement continue when we return to our “normal,” busy lives?
Natick’s residents have been underserved by several aspects of the current form and execution of government, notably:
- Wasted time trying to achieve meeting quorums;
- Inconsistent meeting management, including how citizens are engaged (or not);
- Missed economic development opportunities due to onerous meetings, erratic guidance, and/or inability to respond in a timely fashion; and
- Lacking a formal connection and holistic plan between the school department and municipal government.
Other forms of government offer differing ways to address these and other limitations. I would urge Natick to consider improvements, or alternative forms of government, to make us more agile and responsive to rapidly evolving circumstances.
I’ve compiled some useful information relating to changing local government structure at www.onenatick.com/form-of-govt/.

What process should Natick take to determine what changes, if any, are warranted
to its form of government? How will you support identifying, evaluating and
implementing proposed changes?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

I would be wholly supportive of a group of residents who were to study this topic and present options, with support, to address the changing needs of our town. If we were to pursue any changes in town government, I would want diverse perspectives represented so that we may learn what folks need for the government to be accessible to them. Any committee that would be designated to research and explore this issue would need to include folks from different communities that call Natick home. Outreach work prior to even designating such a committee would be critical to bring new people into this process, rather than only relying on some of the same people that are usually looked to for these kinds of committees.

Mr. Joseph ...

There is a clearly defined process under Mass General Law; however, before contemplating a change to its form of government, Natick must honestly assess its
current operations, including what’s working well, to determine whether and where
performance and service levels can be improved.
From there, a study committee, followed by a potential Charter Commission, and then ultimately the voters, would determine whether, and how, to change from the status quo.

Fun fact: What’s your favorite place to visit (outside of Natick)?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

My family and I like to consider ourselves foodies and when not enjoying the great eateries in Natick, we love grabbing food in downtown Framingham and will drive any place for a great meal!

Mr. Joseph ...

Austin, TX. Live
musing (ACL!), BBQ, food trucks, fun outdoors activities, and over a million bats in August – what’s not to love?

Natick recently formed an Equity Taskforce and the Town is currently working to develop a Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan. What role do you think the Natick Select Board plays in local conversations about social justice?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

The Select Board can help set the tone of municipal discourse and has the ability to prioritize certain issues, including issues relating to equity and social justice. But it is the Select Board’s job to also apply both a social justice and equity lens to the broad range of issues before them.

As a Chief Diversity Officer, I know first hand that no real organizational culture change can happen without the chief executive and leadership of an organization being on board and actively leading the charge. The work of the Equity Taskforce and the REMAP process will only take root in Natick if the Select Board champions that work through consistent communication and follow through.

This is one of the principal reasons why I am running. Community partners are already doing some of the work to engage residents in these conversations and the Select Board should be a part of it.

Mr. Joseph ...

It is vital that the Select Board, which serves as Natick’s face and voice, leads by example while pursuing social justice. Unfortunately, achieving equity and justice in a predominantly white, affluent community has historically been a vague, aspirational goal but in practice and policymaking it’s a long overdue priority.

By creating the Equity Taskforce the Select Board wields substantial influence over ensuring that the municipal government employs equitable standards and practices. At minimum, the Board is accountable to the community for setting, and measuring the performance of, goals from the Action Plan.

More broadly, as fellow citizens, Board members must commit to “doing the work” for themselves, with their families and neighbors, and in the various roles they play as high-profile volunteers.

As a Select Board Member, how will you personally reach out to and work with BIPOC, the LGBTQIA community and other minority groups in Natick?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

As a BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and other minority group person, I’m in a unique position to see, through my sample size of one, the impact of current outreach. If you don’t choose to specifically involve yourself, there is very little, if any, outreach. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The pandemic has had some silver linings. Through tools like Zoom, social media, informational websites, and translation software participation in local government and community events is possible for those navigating childcare, work, language barriers, and new-ness to these systems. I would leverage these tools as well as direct engagement with community events to connect with residents. The first thing I learned in my social work training is to meet the client where they are. It’s up to the Select Board to go to these communities, not the other way around.

Mr. Joseph ...

Board members must strive to balance their work as individuals with that as part of a team. Over my 13+ years of experience serving as a community leader, (https://onenatick.com/experience/), notably as selectman and on related subcommittees, I have:
• Worked with and sought guidance from indigenous peoples subsequent to Natick changing its school mascot;
• Served on committees supporting LGBTQIA youth (liaising with WAGLY/ OUT MetroWest). As Chamber president, worked with Rep. Jack Lewis and initiated connecting youth with LGBTQIA professional networks among local employers;
• Volunteered as speaker and facilitator for Framingham State University programs serving immigrant and minority students, working with their Chief Officer of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement and Career Services office;
• Collaborated with individual members of Natick Is United in their professional roles while serving as Chamber president, selectman, and community volunteer.
As the proud younger brother of a gay man and with endorsements from members of each of these communities, I am committed and eager to work with everyone as we strive for “one Natick.”

Fun fact: What is your favorite DPW vehicle?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

Recycling truck. All day, everyday! Automated side-arm and environmentalism...always! :)

Mr. Joseph ...

I’ve gotta go with “the claw” - the recycling truck!

In her last presentation to Town Meeting, Natick's previous Town Administrator shared a bleak financial forecast for the Town if it continued recent spending trends. What is your perspective on the Town's long term fiscal health and its ability to provide consistent or improved municipal services?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

In recent history, Natick hasn’t had enough collaboration between town departments. “One Natick” was raised, but critical budgeting decisions are still happening in silos. Long term fiscal health requires collaboration and a sharing of the challenges as well as the opportunities.

Mr. Joseph ...

Natick is well-positioned to thrive with an embarrassment of riches to sustain its long-term fiscal health. The hard truth is that we suffer from a structural imbalance and systemic challenges affecting our annual budgeting process, notably: challenging working relationships, historical distrust, and occasional “going along to get along” by some leaders.
The “bleak… forecast” was as much about the economic uncertainty from the pandemic as “spending trends.” Natick’s fiscal health relies on both, somewhat predictable, and growing, revenue and “responsible” expense management. Spending is always within our control; whether it’s “responsible” is determined by taxpayers, staff, and leadership, through Town Meeting votes.
My campaign website is “onenatick.com” because I take a holistic perspective of Natick, including strategic planning and budgeting processes. We must promote better cross-functional management

Would you vote to support putting an operational override on the ballot in Fall 2021? Why or why not?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

I support the idea that the public should have the opportunity to vote on an override and believe, given the town’s financials, an override may be needed to continue funding critical services. That said, if elected to the Select Board, I want to be sure that the override we ask the public to consider is balanced and fair. I am concerned about the long-term impact to our children especially those who are most vulnerable -- and the town as a whole if we don’t make smart investments. I also understand the concerns of those worried about increasing taxes. I’m a social worker and my experience tells me that we need to do better connecting people to resources and programs to offset the burden of certain costs. It’s our job as leaders in the community to do so.

Mr. Joseph ...

I have a record supporting responsible overrides, including the 2008 operational override.
I also joined the “Revenue Enhancement Task Force” because I felt strongly that we cannot simply “tax our way out” of budget challenges.
Natick has exhibited a “level services” and “zero sum” budgeting mindset for too long, pitting schools vs. municipal services. This is short-sighted and the result of flawed processes.
It would be irresponsible of me to commit to a Fall 2021 decision now; more data and context must be considered at that time. When considering an override, I’ll weigh the significant cost/benefit factors and make a well-informed decision that’s in the long-term best interest of Natick and its taxpayers.

How will you - as a Select Board Member - work with your colleagues on the Board, the Town Administrator, the Superintendent of Schools, and the School Committee to develop a community-wide budget that supports the priorities of Natick residents?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

Collaboration and communication from the start. In order for town departments to work together, they have to have a shared vision. That vision should encompass our values as a community and has to include compromise and a deep understanding of the needs of all of our residents. Important services can’t go by the wayside. We need to prioritize and think creatively about solutions to extend our dollars, and also look at things we’ve invested in the past that may no longer work. These important conversations can only happen when all departments come together, which I believe the Select Board should facilitate.

Mr. Joseph ...

This starts with hiring and working effectively with a Town Administrator. Next, setting clear and measurable goals, including results-oriented metrics and assessing collaboration effectiveness. Finally, rebuilding trust by establishing shared goal setting and decision-making across these constituencies; all are critical.
I have extensive experience leading such collaborations, including my last time serving on the Select Board.

Fun fact: What's your go-to Natick pizza place?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

Brooklyn pizza is one of Natick’s great minority owned businesses. Plus my wife is quite partial since she grew up in Brooklyn :)

Mr. Joseph ...

More than one! ;-p

Who are you and why are you running?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

My name is Guimel DeCarvalho. I moved my family to Natick six years ago and I have been serving the people of Natick through my work on the Finance Committee, as a founding member of Natick Is United, and recently as an appointed member to the Natick Equity Task Force. I’m running to bring an equity focus to the work of the Select Board. Natick is a beautiful & diverse community in so many ways. I believe that my personal & professional experience and expertise can be particularly helpful for thoughtful decision-making that reflects the needs of all Natick residents.

Mr. Joseph ...

My wife, Lena, and I have been Natick residents for 22 of the past 25 years; we lived in Austin, TX from 2000-2002. We are the proud parents of two former NPS students, now aged 20 and 18. My first-ever involvement in local politics stemmed from preventing the closure of Johnson Elementary School in 2008 when I was active with the leadership team that created “Yes For Natick!”

I’ve volunteered in many roles in Natick ever since, notably as a selectman (2010-2013) and chair of the Economic Development Committee (2009-2015). I also worked as the CEO of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce from 2015-2019.

I’m running for the Select Board now because I believe my extensive experience, local relationships, and clear vision for a better Natick can contribute substantially to the Board’s 2021+ priorities, including:
1) Hiring Natick's next Town Administrator;
2) Navigating the impacts of a post-pandemic economy on Town revenue and operations, especially municipal services and school budgets.
3) More effectively incorporating community feedback into policy decisions, operations, and volunteer appointments; and,
4) Examining Natick's governance model and operating norms and their impacts on the Town's ability to grow and operate more effectively and equitably.

What do you think the role of a Select Board member is and how do you plan to improve Natick in this capacity?

Ms. DeCarvalho ...

The role of a Select Board member is to represent the values and priorities of the town. The Select Board collaborates with the heads of town departments, community organizations, and our public school system, in responding to the needs of Natick residents. I plan to focus on a strong budget to support excellent schools, infrastructure, and services that meet our town’s needs and bring an equity focus to all of our town’s strategic decision making.

Mr. Joseph ...

Section 3-2 of the Town Charter explicitly defines the role and duties of the Select Board, including limitations of its powers. The Board operates as Natick’s “chief executive office” with broad powers to create policy directives and guidelines “to bring all agencies of the town into harmony.”

There are major systemic challenges preventing “harmony” in many areas across Natick, including its governance, budgeting, operations, and community relations. My highest priority will be to advocate for the systemic and cultural changes required for Natick to do more with less and for the benefit of more people.