Town Meeting Candidates

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Alli Gold Roberts

Precinct:

2

Who are you? 

I have been a Natick resident for 6 years and live here with my husband, 2-year old son and rescue dog. I work at a sustainability advocacy nonprofit, Ceres, where I lead the organization’s state climate policy advocacy efforts in 17 states across the country.

Why are you running?

I am running because our Town’s budget will continue to face challenges as we recover from the pandemic and the growing population and needs of our community. I am eager to ensure that we continue to invest in our public schools, libraries, sustainability initiatives and public works.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

I am proud to have collected signatures for my nomination from my neighbors and will continue to communicate with them about our towns needs and opportunities through our email list. I also walk the neighborhood daily with our dog and son so will certainly aim to keep people informed when I see them out and about.

Andrea Adams

Precinct:

1

Who are you? 

One of the few renters (as opposed to homeowners) in town who hold public office.

Why are you running?

Years ago there was an article in the newspaper lamenting the fact that there were so few Precinct 1 Town Meeting members. I thought I should give it a try.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

You can email me at AndreaAdamsTM@gmail.com

Andrew Eschtruth

Precinct:

5

Who are you? 

I am a 23-year resident of Natick and father of two graduates of Natick High School. In addition to serving for two terms as a Town Meeting member, I am currently the chair of the advisory board for Natick's Council on Aging and a member of the Senior Property Tax Exemption Study Committee. My day job is associate director for external relations at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College; the Center's mission is to improve retirement income security for all Americans.

Why are you running?

The short answer is: I love public service and the town of Natick. If elected to a 3rd term as a Town Meeting member, I would build on my current experience in town government to continue contributing to our town's welfare in several ways. My special focus of interest has been the senior community in Natick, but I am also a strong supporter of our public schools, the town's sustainability efforts, and the Cochituate Rail Trail and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

I would like to engage in more outreach with residents of Precinct 5. One channel is through Facebook, I am a member of Natick Community and Government Chat and the Natick Dads groups. I also have a separate Natick-related Facebook page (@AndyNatickPrecinct5). I can also be reached directly via email at aeschtruthnatick@gmail.com. If anyone has any suggestions about other good ways to connect, please let me know.

Charlene Foss

Precinct:

10

Who are you? 

I have lived in Natick for 40 plus years and been a Town Meeting member for approximately 25 years. My practice has been located in downtown Natick for the last 12 years. Other boards I served on were appointed by the Selectman to the Council of Aging and one year to Natick Housing Authority, then ran successful the following year for another term. I’m an unenrolled voter and over the years I’ve run several campaigns successfully for Selectman and School committee.

Why are you running?

I have a true desire to serve our town and citizenry. The town has grown and developed tremendously over the years, the successful leadership from our current Superintendent of Schools is exciting and look forward to the future. Being apart of working downtown, I've gotten to know and observe the care and concerns they have. Advocated with and for neighbors to resolve difficulties in a building project has given me respect for the nuances of the Zoning and Planning Board processes. Continue to educate myself by watching Pegasus broadcasts of most boards and will go back and rewatch a board meeting to understand the why.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

Being in a new precinct this year, it will take some time to get to know people and issues/concerns. In my previous precinct people called, email and on occasion at my door. So if I do have the opportunity to represent my neighbors, they can always reach me at cfoss@comcast.net or 508.655.4905.

Cody Jacobs

Precinct:

2

Who are you? 

I’m a Lecturer at Boston University School of Law where I teach Lawyering Skills. I’m also a progressive activist, father of two small children (3 and 6 years old), and an avid basketball fan. I’m the Chair of Natick’s Transportation Advisory Committee and a member of the Brown Elementary School Council.

Why are you running?

I’m running to promote progressive values, transparency, and a more responsive government. Social justice should be at the center of every decision we make as a town. Among other things, this means maintaining and building on our strong public school system, increasing affordable housing, and creating the infrastructure to ensure equitable access to sustainable transportation options. I also think there are tangible steps we can take to make our government more open and accessible to working people.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

In the short term, I plan to connect with residents through social media, including through groups like PNF. If I’m elected, I plan to create a Facebook page where I will solicit feedback from people in Precinct 2 and post an explanation for each vote that I take at Town Meeting. Of course, I will also continue to listen to my neighbors in informal conversations about the issues that are important to them.

In the long term, I plan to work on an article for Fall Town Meeting that would enact a by-law requiring Town Meeting Members to disclose an e-mail address to be posted on the Town website. Several years ago, Town Meeting passed a resolution requesting that Town Meeting Members do this, but there was no requirement and so far, no e-mail addresses have been posted. It is unacceptable that you can e-mail any official at any level of government except the one that’s supposed to be the closest to you. We should change that.

Danielle Newland

Precinct:

8

Who are you? 

Hello, my name is Danielle (Dani) Newland and I am running for Town Meeting Member in Precinct 8.

Why are you running?

In our 14 years in Natick my family has benefitted from the work of so many neighbors who have volunteered their time and energy to run our representative government. Now it is my turn. Since we moved to Natick our family has grown from two to four and we have created strong ties in the community. I volunteer often to support the Johnson PTO and school activities including volunteering weekly to do Pool Testing at Wilson Middle School. I was active in the Natick Garden Club and Board for several years and ran the Club’s booth at Natick Earth Day. I have been on the Board of the Natick Special Ed Parent Advisory Committee for four years and many kids know me as “Dani the Gardener” from my business Little Sprout Gardens. I am grateful to live in such a vibrant and engaged town and want to help the town thrive. You can count on me to pay attention, do my homework and actively participate as a representative for Precinct 8.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

I will connect with Precinct 8 every day as I participate in activities in the community. If elected I will also create an opt-in monthly mail and P8 folks can always contact me via tmmnewland2021@gmail.com. Please vote on March 30th!

Joshua Ostroff

Precinct:

6

Who are you? 

Hello! Thanks for providing this forum, PNF.

My wife Jeanne and I moved here in 1988 with our son Jonah (NHS 2004, now a college math teacher), and have been active in Natick government since the early 1990s. I've served on TM since around 1997, with a little time off after I was elected to the BOS in 2006 (I ran again around 2008, in part because TM had trouble getting a quorum).

In addition to working on countless campaigns for candidates, I led the campaign to preserve PAYT in a 2003 special election, and worked on many other townwide elections.

Primarily through the BOS/Select Board, I have served the community in goals-driven leadership, state advocacy, transportation investments and policy, civic engagement, land conservation, housing and zoning, pensions and benefits, diversified revenue, re-precincting after the census, regional collaboration, improved communication, executive recruitment, economic development, and in many, many other areas.

I have served on the board and in leadership on the Massachusetts Municipal Association and have been active with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and I welcome opportunities to mentor peers in other communities.

I am enthusiastic about getting people involved as volunteers, and welcome connecting with residents to help identify ways to lend our talents to local government. Email me, or text/call 508 654-3330 if you want, or get in touch at www.ostroff.net if you are looking for a way to participate.

By day, I work for a transportation advocacy coalition, Transportation for Massachusetts, www.t4ma.org. This is my third or fourth career. I also administer the FB group Natick Talks, and have participated in other online venues over the years (for those of you who recall natick.info, a shout-out!).

Why are you running?

Town Meeting is central to our form of government, where we all have access to important debates and decisions. I am seeking re-election because I have helpful experience and perspectives, and want to continue serving our community and my fellow TM members.

At most Town Meetings over the last 15 or so years there are initiatives on which I have worked on in a supporting or leading capacity, and I think it is valuable to be able to debate and offer motions and amendments.

For example, this Spring I am working speed limit legislation (also as a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee) and a revolving fund to support maintenance and enhancements to the Cochituate Rail Trail (as Chair of the CRT Advisory Committee), among other articles on the warrant.

If you are thinking of bringing forward an initiative to TM (or in some other venue) I am available to discuss how to make things happen in local government. I bring institutional memory to local government, while respecting the constant change and flow of new people, concerns and ideas.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

This is an interesting question! I try to be available to residents and stakeholders all across Natick, as most issues transcend precinct boundaries, or involve more than one element of local government. I usually seek to channel public input into our existing structures of government, and be available to anyone when people want to get involved or express a view. Please consider this an invitation to reach out about any issue or concern.

All that said, we have new people moving to Natick all the time, and responsive, accessible government is an evergreen concern. I would be pleased to talk to others about how we promote engagement and awareness so that people have good access to the process by which we make decisions that affect our town, our neighborhoods and our families.

Martin Kessel

Precinct:

10

Who are you? 

We live on Water Street on the river. I grew up in Natick and went through the school system here. After some time in Boston, I moved back to Natick with my family when our son started school in 1995. Our son has long since graduated, but I’m grateful for all that the Natick schools provided, and am committed to continuing improvements in the schools.

My biggest passion is hiking and the outdoors, and I have been on Natick’s Open Space Advisory Committee since its creation 20 years ago, serving as chair for the last 18 years. Our committee led the efforts to develop walking trails throughout the town, at virtually no cost to the town, making use of Natick’s fantastic volunteers. We have also worked on acquisition of a few key new open space areas, and have supported development of the Cochituate Rail Trail.

Why are you running?

I seek to continue to represent Precinct 10 at Town Meeting, where I have served since 2000. I’ve worked to protect open space through acquisition of land, transfer of Town-owned land to the Conservation Commission, and development of cluster zoning provisions that set aside portions of new developments as open space. I also strongly support new zoning that promotes the Natick 2030+ vision of a lively downtown with residences, businesses, restaurants and arts within a walkable distance. Likewise, I endorse the Natick 2030+ proposals to ensure a variety of housing types for all demographic and income levels.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

Our own neighborhood – Water, Lincoln and River streets – has its own Facebook Group called River Rats, where there’s an open exchange or information and opinions, and that’s a good model for citizen communication. I’m also hopeful that publication of Town Meeting e-mails will provide us with input from a wider range of constituents.

It’s difficult for citizens to keep up with all the issues that are before Town Meeting, but there are often issues that will activate South Natick residents. In recent years, our neighbors have become active when confronted with a proposed Assisted Living Center at 22 Pleasant St., another Assisted Living Center at Windy-Lo, a massive condo development claiming to be historic preservation, a doggie day care center, and currently, the uncertain future of the South Natick Dam. On all these issues, I have attended neighborhood meeting, and have supported the neighborhood concerns at Town Meeting .

Marty McCrory

Precinct:

6

Who are you? 

I moved to Natick in June 2020 and have immediately fallen in love with the town. My spouse, child and I love the opportunities available and the wonderful folks I've met here. My hobbies include photography and shopping for great deals at Aldi.

Why are you running?

At a time where folks are passionate about key issues such as diversity, inclusion, and antiracism, it's more important than ever to ensure our representative democracy allows all voices to be heard. If elected, I will represent the values and needs of all Precinct 6 constituents with empathy and understanding.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

Engaging with local government is hard. Engagement requires privilege. I'm fortunate enough to have this privilege, and I intend to use it to engage with folx in my Precinct in ways that meet them where they are, quite literally. Specifically, I will leverage direct outreach and focused conversations to better understand my neighbors' positions on key warrant issues, so I can effectively represent my precinct at TM. I'm here to listen and understand, which is where we all should be during this difficult time.

Melissa Witham

Precinct:

10

Who are you? 

Hello! I live in Precinct 10 along with my two middle school-aged daughters, my husband, and our two cats. We have called Natick home for the past eight years. I am originally from Maine, went to college and kicked off my professional career in New York City, and now enjoy the serenity and community of Natick.

Why are you running?

My professional career has focused on various roles supporting individuals to achieve self-sufficiency and a strong sense of home, health, community and purpose. I am very aware of the protective factors a community can offer to all, but especially youth and young adults. I want to take my combined knowledge of program administration, community engagement, and public policy to the next level as a member of my local government. I look forward to participating in decision-making that balances Natick's growth with preserving its spirit.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

You are welcome to connect with me via email or Facebook. I am very interested to meet more of my neighbors and hear from all different generations about their needs and their current and future hopes for Natick. I see Natick as a town transforming, and I'm sure we have many different visions for our town's potential.

Michael J Hickey

Precinct:

9

Who are you? 

My name is Mike Hickey. I've lived in Natick for 20 years, and have served in both appointed and elected positions in Town government. I'm currently serving my second term on the Select Board. I served as Chair from 2019-20. I previously served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for about a decade, including three years as Chair. One of my fondest memories from my early ZBA days was collaborating with colleagues from other Boards and professionals to craft a zoning by-law to allow covered, open-air front porches to be built within the "front yard setback" (subject to certain conditions). It was fun and an example of collaborative problem solving to address the fact that a number of good proposals could not proceed under the constraints of the by-law. I have a BA in Political Science from the University of Vermont (go Cats!) and a JD from Boston College Law School. I worked in state government in both the legislative and executive branches out of college, until starting my legal career at Brown Rudnick in 2001, around the time I moved to Natick. I've worked as in-house counsel for National Grid since 2009. My practice has always been concentrated on commercial real estate and land use. My wife Lisa and I live on Milk Street. We have two kids - James (19), who graduated from NHS in 2019, and Katie (17), who better graduate from NHS in 2021 - a large dog, a small turtle, a bearded dragon, two geckos, two tree frogs, a guinea pig, and a tarantula. We live in a fantastic neighborhood with great neighbors and friends. I'm honored to serve the Town of Natick and the amazing people who live and work here.

Why are you running?

Good question! In the Fall, I found out that I had been "written in" as a Town Meeting candidate, and was therefore eligible to serve due to unexpected vacancies. I have long been a proponent of refraining from wearing too many hats, and encouraging new people to serve, but the timing was such that Fall Annual Town Meeting was scheduled to begin shortly, and it was likely that the seat would remain vacant if I didn't serve. So, I did, and I enjoyed the experience very much. As a member of the Select Board, I attend Town Meeting anyway, and I was slated to speak to Town Meeting members about a number of Articles on the Warrant. It was very rewarding to serve as a Town Meeting member as it allowed me to approach certain decisions from a somewhat different perspective. I was so impressed with how the Moderator, the Town Clerk, and so many others adjusted to the 'virtual' process and worked through the people's business in a professional and productive manner. I know so many people in Precinct 9 and I take time to know and understand all the matters before Town Meeting and how they will impact the lives of people in 'my' Precinct as well as the Town as a whole. This time around, I reached out to a few people in my precinct to encourage them to serve, but unfortunately did not have any luck, so I decided to run for election to Town Meeting - my first time doing so. If elected, I'll be prepared and engaged and do my best to represent the best interests of the people I serve. It's a privilege to serve and I'm humbled by the opportunity every day.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

If you ask around, I think people will say I'm very easy to reach - and that I'm responsive. People call and text me about Town issues each and every day, not to mention all the emails and the people I speak with when I'm out and about - I've had countless impromptu meetings while walking my dog, going to the Farmer's Market, shopping downtown, etc. I'm in regular contact with my neighbors and surrounding neighborhoods about "local" issues and I try my best to stay up to date on everything happening, and to seek out perspectives from others. There are so many great, informed and engaged people here and I learn something every day. My cell is (617) 688-7907 and my Town email is mhickey@natickma.org. I encourage anyone to reach out to me if they'd like to discuss a Town issue, or if there's anything I may be able to help them with, or just to say hello! Thank you.

Moire Balsam

Precinct:

4

Who are you? 

Hello! I’m Moire (pronounced Moy-ra). I live with my husband and 2 children in the Walnut Hill neighborhood. My son is a first grader at Ben-Hem and my daughter attends Natick Preschool. Prior to raising my children, I worked as an Assistant District Attorney for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. I have been a Town Meeting member for two terms and am the Vice-Chair of the Sawin House Advisory Committee, which focuses on acquiring and preserving Natick’s oldest homestead. In my spare time, I lead outdoor children’s classes for Tinkergarten and volunteer as a Special Education Surrogate Parent.

Why are you running?

My family moved to Natick in 2014, and I became a Town Meeting Member in 2015. I ran for Town Meeting so that I could be an active member and make a difference in our community. As a mom to a wonderful autistic child, I am particularly passionate about our schools and keeping them strong for all of our learners. I also have a strong interest in sustainability initiatives and community economic development.

How will you connect with residents in your precinct on key issues? 

I am always happy to talk with neighbors and community members! Please email me at Moire.Balsam.Precinct4@gmail.com.