HANSON – The Select Board on Tuesday, May 9 said goodbye to departing member Jim Hickey, who declined to seek re-election to a third term this year.
The Town Election is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 20 at Hanson Middle School, with early voting having been underway between Monday, May 15 and Wednesday, May 17.
Hickey said he will still be around and is looking forward to what the future brings.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Hickey said. “There’s actually an open seat on the Council on Aging. I’m going to take that seat and I’m going to be around. It’s just that there’s been opportunities placed before me and I want to pursue those opportunities and still be a vital member of the community and help the seniors.”
Chair Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett, who was elected to the board the same year as Hickey in 2017, gave him a hug after presenting him with a proclamation from the board citing his work as Senior Center Liaison and member of the W-H Regional Agreement Committee. Hickey had also served on the Recreation Commission for two years and had been a member of the town’s 200th Anniversary Committee in 2020.
“We’ve learned a lot together over the last six years and grown a lot and it is with great pleasure that I present this to you,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “There’s no way to put in a proclamation or a citation all of the things that you’ve done, so we’ve just hit a couple of high spots.”
She then read from the proclamation, prefacing it with a prediction about Hickey’s legacy.
“Your swan song, the thing that you will be known by this board for will be your contribution to that Regional Agreement Committee, and also all of the things you did for the Senior Center,” she said. “Don’t think that they went unnoticed, because they didn’t, that legacy will live on.”
The board also presented Hickey with a photo taken by Town Clerk Beth Sloan and framed by Administrative Assistant Lynn McDowell of Hickey sitting on the throne in the Robin Hood stage set before Town Meeting on May 1.
Select Board members shared other memories of serving with Hickey. Ed Heal said he learned a lot in his first year of office from Jim.
“For me, it’s going to be unbelievable not to have you rattling off all these numbers off the top of your head, percentages that you wouldn’t even think you could do,” Joe Weeks said. “Thank you for your leadership, everything that you’ve done for the Senior Center, the seniors in general – the representation there – everything you’ve done for the Regional School Agreement. Fantastic. You’re a great leader [and] a great citizen.”
Member Ann Rein said, “I’m going to miss you because I was hoping to learn more from you, and I’ve learned a lot already.”
State Sen. Mike Brady, D-Brockton, also presented Hickey with a citation from the General Court.
“I’m honored to be here and represent the town of Hanson and several other communities in Plymouth and Norfolk counties as a state senator,” Brady said. “Thank you for your service to the community.”
The Select Board also conducted something of an after-action review of the Town Meeting and the status of the fiscal 2023 budget with Town Accountant Eric Kinsherf as a way to determine how things went and how they could have been done better.
“We could always do things better and this definitely not taking pot-shots at anybody, “ FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “This is more sort of with the mind set of, ‘Let’s just improve the process and experience for the next time around.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said she has already discussed the need for stricter enforcement of article filing deadlines with Town Administrator Lisa Green.
“When we don’t enforce the deadline, it all floats downhill to Lynn and Lisa and legal counsel … and everyone is running around like maniacs,” she said. “You all make it look so flawless to the people sitting in the audience, but I know that there’s pandemonium behind the scenes and it’s unnecessary.”
For planning this October’s special Town Meeting warrant, it is vital to reinforce deadlines, she said, with “absolutely no exceptions” being granted.
“I liked the fact that this board didn’t have any questions,” she said. “By the time we got to Town Meeting we had discussed every single article.”
There was a “disconnect” on some submitted articles that had been changed, but the change hadn’t been captured before the warrant was printed.
“This is a group effort,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “It doesn’t have to fall on us or Mr. Kinsher for on anybody.” Once a draft warrant is created, she suggested it be recirculated through departments and others submitting warrants to allow for confirmation on wording.
“I really would like to see multiple QC [quality control] processes, because I think what happens a lot of times, particularly with legal documents that are this size, you start to see what you want to see because you’ve been looking at it so long,” she said. “I think we need fresh eyes.”
She also gave high praise to McDowell, who did not come to the job as administrative assistant from a municipal background, for the speed in which she familiarized herself with the warrant process.
Heal expressed concern about the order of articles in the warrant, after some comments had been made from Town Meeting floor about an article being listed out of the right order and they had to be switched around.
FitzGerald-Kemmett said legal counsel had explained that past practice in listing articles a certain way did not mean that practice had to be adhered to forever and the board has the prerogative for ordering articles.
“I think some compelling arguments were made to suggest that perhaps the way that it used to be done was preferred, but again, there was noting legally impermissible about what was done,” she said.
“I thought it was a good Town Meeting, especially for the number of articles that we had, ” Weeks said. “It was actually a relatively short night, considering what it could have been.”
He did mention typos in the warrant and the number of handouts were a little unwieldy.
“They were all needed, so I don’t know how you’d fix something like that,” said.
“I think we overwhelmed people with that information,” Rein said. “I wonder if there isn’t a way to get that out before [Town Meeting].”
Heal suggested a common format that identified what articles they explain. FitzGerald-Kemmett also suggested a deadline for handouts should also be considered.
“You’ve got to put yourself in peoples’ shoes,” she said.
Weeks said more time simply needs to be devoted to educating people.
“I just feel you [should] give as much information as possible,” he said.
“The website is going to be key,” Rein said.
FitzGerald-Kemmett also said Frank Milisi’s suggestion that the meeing start earlier appeared to boost attendance.
Kinsherf suggested that plain-language summaries be required for articles, with the warrant providing a link to the summaries once it is posted on the website.