Name: Carolyn McCreary
Age: Older than I’d like to admit
Profession: Software Engineer
Relevant experience: Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee, chairman; Comprehensive Plan Committee, member; Capital Planning Committee, member; Devens Housing and Transportation Committee, member; People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment (PACE), president; educator at both the high school and university levels.
Education: Ph.D. in Computer Science, University of Colorado; M.A. in Mathematics, University of Colorado; B.A. in Mathematics, Gettysburg College
Ayer resident since: 1999
1. Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Board of Selectmen?
I am running for a position on the Board of Selectmen for several reasons.
First, I have been active throughout the process of developing our town’s comprehensive plan, and I want to apply my experience and leadership at this time to ensure the plan’s timely and appropriate implementation.
Second, Ayer is at a critical point in its history. Decisions in the disposition of Devens will be made during this upcoming term. How we participate in the process now will have a big impact on the quality of our lives for the next several decades.
Third, I want to sustain the kind of stable presence that was on the board in the past. I feel that recently the board has been very contentious and that this has gotten in the way of productivity and progress.
Finally, serving is something I believe is important. Government is about working together for the betterment of all. It’s about cooperation, collaboration and compromise. It’s about supporting activities that enhance the town. It’s about working together to come up with the best solutions for all.
Government is what we choose to do together. We choose to support a police force and firefighters. We choose to collectively educate our children. We choose to help our seniors. We choose to support economic growth in our town. We choose to have a public water supply that is safe and affordable.
That is why I am running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen.
2. What do you consider the three most important issues facing Ayer and why?
The three most important issues facing Ayer today all related to sustainability.
No matter what scenario is chosen for the Devens disposition, Ayer will likely add property to its area of jurisdiction. The most likely scenario will give Ayer additional jurisdiction over the North Post. If governed and developed responsibly, our expanded boarders will provide opportunities for creating an exciting new component to our town. If developed poorly, we may face the growth issues we all fear.
Population growth is another critical issue. Within Ayer’s current borders, plans for hundreds of additional housing units have been approved. With this growth comes the need for expanded services: schools, police, fire, sewer, water and transportation. Planning and implementing these services, and their financing, will be critical in the next few years.
Finally, downtown Ayer should be a vibrant place where people enjoy shopping and dining or simply congregating. Several stores are closing and this threatens the vibrancy of the rest of the stores. To help downtown thrive we must follow the comprehensive plan’s suggestions of additional downtown parking and mixed-use — residential with business — zoning.
3. What, if any, action by the Board of Selectmen in the last year would you like to have seen decided differently and why?
I value balancing opposing positions by understanding multiple points of view, and I want to be on the Board to help foster compromise and cohesion. Having said that, I don’t want to second-guess the decisions made last year. My goal is to forward consensus, not polarize by criticizing the existing board.
4. Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the job?
With the exception of Faye Morrison, the current chairman of the board, who is running for re-election, I am the candidate with the most experience in the governance of our town. My service to the town is listed above.
As an experienced town leader and deliberate, thoughtful decision-maker, my approach is one of finding the balancing position on issues: balancing town growth with the protection of the environment, balancing diverse fiscal commitments to ensure long-term quality progress, balancing opposing voices in town government by working toward compromise and consensus, balancing goals for quality education with fiscal responsibility, balancing the needs of our business and industrial community with the requirements of our citizens, etc. I can lead with the integrity to build coalitions and unify the contentious factions in Ayer.
As the president of PACE for the past five years, I have been tenacious in protecting the Spectacle Pond Aquifer. When existing efforts to prevent the aquifer’s potentially devastating development by Guilford seemed hopeless, I persisted with an out-of-the-box plan that is now bearing fruit. We recently received news that Ford is moving its auto unloading operation from Ayer. That greatly diminishes the prospect that Guilford will build a new unloading facility on this sensitive land.
I have a proven record as a leader who has brought out the best in others. I’m proud of PACE, an organization that has spawned leaders in the broader community. I count as one of my skills the ability to lift others, encouraging them to do their very best. I would be honored to apply my experiences and skills to serve all of the citizens of Ayer.