With two seats available on the Stow Select Board, the five candidates running for that position were asked the same series of questions to help familiarize Stow voters with each candidate. Cortni Frecha and Ingeborg Hegemann Clark’s interviews can be found here. Katie Fisher, Len Golder and Alex Riker’s unedited responses appear below. You can view the Candidates’ Night Forum hosted by Stow TV and The Stow Independent here to see ALL the candidates on this year’s Annual Election Ballot with Town Election being held on Saturday, May 21, with polls open 10am-4pm at Center School.
Katie Fisher: Dear Neighbors, I am Katie Fisher and a proud parent of 3 wonderful children that I raised in Stow. I own a small real estate office and am a long-time resident of Stow. In my years of learning, I studied basic computer programming, insurance, finance, management, and marketing. I ran for the first Stow Charter Commission to understand town government, we wrote the 1st Town Charter. I fell in love with town government in the 1990’s. We also started the capital planning committee. I was liaison for the local schools with the Finance Committee, and served on the schools and town space committees, and the police building committee. I actively participate and follow town government closely. I am very supportive of our citizens and our small businesses. I live in my antique home at the gateway to Lower Village.
Leonard Golder: I have lived in Stow for over 30 years .where I have raised a family and maintained a law practice. I have served in town government for practically all these years ,including 2 terms on the Selectboard ,15 years on the Planning Board , and the Library Trustees and the Cable Committee .I’m currently serving on the Board of Assessors and the Zoning Board. For me service in government is a labor of love even though the pay isn’t great, as in nothing.
This experience both in length and breadth gives me a helpful perspective in dealing with the responsibilities and challenges facing the town, both those that have been ongoing and new ones that will occur.
Alex Riker: I am Alex Riker and I’m running for one of the open seats on the Select Board. In addition to having a Select Board with diversity of thought and experience, my goal is to bring and keep new businesses in Stow, while preserving the charm and tranquility that brought my family here. I believe that with the right investments and responsible spending, our town has the potential to be one of the most desirable suburbs of Boston. Our town’s scenic views, wonderful school system, and vibrant community are all qualities that would make anyone want to live here, but we must be cognizant of our town’s future livelihood. We need businesses including grocers, restaurants, and those focused on innovation to want to be a part of our community and to stay for years to come.
I may be new to town and local government, but my intentions are pure, my work ethic is unmatched, and I will bring a new perspective to the Select Board. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Why did you choose to run for this position?
Fisher: I am running for Select Board to add balance, my knowledge, and experience. There’s been many recent changes in our world. I don’t want our citizens and communities needs to be overlooked. How we live has changed. We now need a playbook that matches the 2020s. I care about you, our citizens. I know many of you on a personal level, not only from social media. l have been in many of your homes and know you and your families. I listen to you. I have watched longtime residents, the elderly move, our kids not able to move back here because they can’t afford Stow. I believe we need to maintain a path to allow for everyone. I have an understanding of what you want in Stow. What is important to you, like schools, recreation, dining, culture, trails, farms, better roads, Police and Fire Safety. I do not want us to lose our soul as a community and our history as we build together towards tomorrow. I had to run for office to insure the citizens a voice in our town’s decisions. I can no longer stand aside. We need new faces, fresh ideas, and open minds.
Golder: The Selectboard is the board that is responsible for the oversight of the entire town .and I believe I can make a contribution serving on this Board again. There are going to be 2 vacancies to fill, one in this election and another in a special election as well as 1 seat up for reelection in this election..I believe I can help provide stability in leadership.
We face a number of challenges including : maintaining a small rural atmosphere while navigating population growth and housing development due to people “discovering “our town; assuring fiscal stability while keeping up with the demand for new projects; encouraging small business in lower village to provide desired goods and services and help at least a little to reduce dependency on the personal real estate tax; being prepared for potential future pandemics and other crises; meeting the challenges locally of a changing climate
We have a population diverse in ranging from families with school children to empty nester seniors and I want to represent the interests of all the components in town.
Riker: I’m running for the Stow Select Board to both preserve the charm that brought my family here, and to help build a better tomorrow for future generations. As a father of one with one on the way, I want to dedicate my time and energy to help this community so that my children, and other children in our community, have such an incredible life in Stow that they want to raise their own children here.
I’ve met many extraordinary people in town. I believe that with transparency and robust communication we can gather new ideas that will lead to actions that achieve our collective goals. We must come together to put our tax dollars to work so that we can achieve a positive return on our investments.
Our town has wide ranging aspirations, and I believe that they are achievable. I am running to collect the information needed in order to make tough decisions, take input from the stakeholders, and to work toward decisions that are in the best interest of ALL residents, now and in the future.
I’m a blank slate of passion, curiosity, compassion, and empathy, all of which are crucial skills to bring to the board.
What do you see as the role of a Select Board member and what specific skills do you bring to that role?
Fisher: The Select Board is the policymaking board. I offer my skills in managing a successful business and experience working directly with all areas of town government. I have strong people and negotiation skills. I worked with the Planning Board on the Stow Housing Production Plan in 2011. I can read plot plans and construction plans. I understand wells and septic’s and worked with towns and cities. I am very knowledgeable of most aspects of private wells, community wells, private septic’s, community sewage plants, conservation, the DEP and Boards of Health. I assisted in conceptual plans for road work, subdivisions etc. Both on a personal level and in my work. I have been involved in Stow Finance and Planning. I know what tools and resources they require to manage their departments. I worked with the Finance committee and the different departments during their budget review. I have an understanding of all areas of town government and who is responsible for each job. Additionally, I have experience in many towns from Weston to Harvard, Waltham to Framingham and many others. Each community has a different personality. Stow is unique as it is the first town west of Boston that has Private Wells and Septics. I care and will take the time to roll up my sleeves to help.
Golder: The Selectboard is responsible for the overall management of the town and the other boards. It assigns to the town administrator functions for the operation of town government.
The Selectboard oversees the budget and fiscal policy, presents and approves and opposes articles for town meeting, hires , does collective bargaining, decides litigation issues, issues business licenses, does an annual review of the town boundaries and guides crisis management. It also hears dog complaints and rounds up stray livestock,though fortunately it hasn’t had to do too much with those lately.
I believe it should also communicate with other boards and shape an overall policy and vision fort he town. The skills I bring include my past service on the board as well as the other boards I’ve served. Also serving on. intertown and regional boards as well as running for state and even national office ,which has given me insight on what other towns do that work well.
Also helpful are my present and past employment as an attorney ,arbitrator, public administrstor, social worker and various jobs in the business world.
Riker: The role of a Select Board member is defined by our town charter and Massachusetts state law. Each member represents 1/5th of the Chief Executive Officer of our town government. The purpose of having five members is to ensure checks and balances and diversity of thought. I am running to bring new ideas and diversity of thought to the board.
Members of the board are responsible for making various decisions that shape the town. These decisions require a great deal of critical thought after sufficient research. I have been successful throughout my career in tech sales roles by doing just that – I research extensively, ask the difficult questions to get to the root cause of the problem and work with all stakeholders to ensure that solutions are beneficial for all parties involved.
I also believe that it is the role of the Select Board to maintain communication with all stakeholders within the town: residents, business owners, town employees, visitors, etc. I would like to promote more open lines of communication so that we can accomplish our shared goals of seeing our tax dollars put to work. We must explore all possibilities. Communication and collaboration can often lead to cost-free solutions.
There is an ongoing issue regarding the lack of an accessible water supply in the Lower Village to serve current businesses and bring in new businesses. What do you see as the town’s role in bringing water to Lower Village?
Fisher: The main challenges are cost, who it will service, and how to manage the sewage wastewater that will also be needed if uses are expanded. Many of the properties outlining the Lower Village Business zone have undersized lots that contain private wells and septic systems. The studies in this area started in the 1990’s when 3 or 4 contamination sites were discovered. Most current businesses have a Public Water supply, they however, do not allow for large expansions of the businesses. As residents do we want small inviting shops or commercial box buildings? Maybe a Park where the gas station was. Large businesses create more possibility of ground contamination then small shops. Studies should review the Master Plans of 2000, 2010, all the Lower Village Studies and the water studies. I believe we need more information from the residents and what they want the Lower Village to be used for. We need a fresh look as the last two years has changed how we think and how we live. A survey of citizens/taxpayers should answer most of these questions. We should also include the 3 other well and town water supply issues under review with PFAS, etc. while doing the study.
Golder: Bringing water to the small businesses in lower village will
A Help the businneses that are already there
B Incentivize bringing new businesses into the village
C Provide people in town with a variety of merchandise and services and improve the vitality of the town
D Provide additional revenue to the town to meet the demands of government services and reduce the dependency on personal real estate taxes for revenue
That said I don’t want to see the town go into the water business. We don’t have the expertise and it would subject the town to potential liability.
The town government can be the driving force to get a water company into the village and if needed to provide infrastructure and land to a water company through a lease and receive revenue.
This will require the participation of the lower village businesses in the process and operation.
Riker: While I acknowledge that it is the town’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment for businesses to operate, I don’t believe that it’s the residents’ responsibility to fund or build infostructure that would bring a new water system to the Lower Village. It’s the responsibility of the Lower Village property owners to provide the water.
Our government needs to encourage and assist Linear Property Management along with the other property owners to resolve the issue themselves. We need open communication to understand why there’s been a lack of investment in fixing this issue. It would be my hope that we could eliminate any roadblocks they may be facing and to come together to determine what needs to be done without unfairly distributing the costs.
Finally, after candid conversations with several business owners, I don’t believe that the water issue is the only problem hindering the Lower Village from thriving. I believe some of the businesses that have moved or closed would’ve stayed had they felt more support from the town government. Our businesses should be treated with respect and if there are any disputes, decisions should be made with the interest of the entire town in mind.
Fisher: I want to participate in bringing our citizens to the table in open discussions and what our community is going to look like tomorrow. We need to get projects done correctly and not pay for consultant after consultant for work never done. We need volunteers of all ages who care. Businesses have a tough time surviving. We have changed our lifestyles which brings new opportunities and new challenges. What worked yesterday may not work today. I feel like I am the only small business that has survived from 15 years ago in the Village. We are behind in infrastructure. We need a plan, updated services, to assist private citizens and business alike. We will have major growth in our population and a new school on the horizon. We need to be ready, hopefully also becoming a green community. I love Stow as a whole, the sum of its parts. I am asking for your vote.
Golder: There have been quite a few changes and challenges in town over the years . I don’t need to remind you what its been like the past 2 years with a pandemic ,which is hopefully winding down.
One of the strengths in Stow in meeting challenges is our spirit of volunteerism. A Master Plan study calculated the number of volunteer hours was in the 6 figures and that was several years ago.
In that spirit participating in government is something I have enjoyed for many years. I won’t amuse or bore you with my first run for office when I was elected to eighth grade student council, suffice it to say I refer to it as “the candy bar election”
If I can do something to improve conditions and peoples lives by participating in government at any level that brings me joy and satisfaction, I am grateful that I am able to do so.
Riker: Stow is truly an amazing community. It’s quaintness, beauty, and heritage should be preserved and protected. As a member of the Select Board, I would dedicate myself to that mission, while also bringing new ideas and passion to address major concerns of the town.
Revitalizing the Lower Village and concern over the allocation of tax dollars appear to be the most top-of-mind issues that concern our residents. Addressing both issues using a traditional approach may not be possible. While I may be viewed as an untraditional candidate to some, I believe non-traditional thinking and new perspectives are necessary to accomplish our collective goals.
It is my hope that over the next several weeks I can meet as many of you as possible. I would love to answer any questions and earn your support in this election. As Tom Brady would say, LET’S GOOOOOO (STOW)!
Stow Candidates' Night Forum was held virtually on Wednesday, April 27 and can be seen here.
Stow Town Election will take place on
Saturday, May 21
10:00AM – 4:00PM
CENTER SCHOOL, 403 GREAT RD