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. Candidates Cortni Frecha and Ingeborg Hegemann Clark’s unedited answers appear below. Click here for the interviews with the other candidates (Katie Fisher, Len Golder and Alex Riker) and you can view the Candidates’ Night Forum hosted by Stow TV and The Stow Independent here to see the ALL the candidates on this year’s Annual Election Ballot. The Town Election will be held Saturday, May 21, with polls open 10 a.m. – 4p.m. at Center School.
I am passionate about maintaining the rural character of Stow. This is defined by farms and scenic views, historic architecture and demographic diversity. This passion comes from my life experiences.
I work as a carpenter and residential contractor, self employed for 25 years. I perform a variety of tasks, sales, customer service, administrator and craftsperson. I come from a family committed to conservation of natural spaces. My grandfather was instrumental in the creation of the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge in Concord. My family also donated land to the Town of Stow for a trailhead to the Heath Hen Meadow Conservation area. I met members of the Conservation Trust and began to learn about wildlife habitat and the value of open space as a resource which not only protects water and air quality but also checks residential growth, managing the cost of schools and public services for our taxpayers.
Ingeborg Hegemann Clark:
Hello, I have lived in Stow since 1993, and over the years have volunteered for various positions in town: Conservation Commission, Planning Board and Board of Selectman (now Selectboard). Through appointments by those boards, I have also been on the Community Preservation Commission and SMAHT (Stow Municipal Affordable Housing Trust).
Before moving to Stow, I was on my previous town’s conservation commission. Volunteering is in my blood. I have also been on, and continue to be on, non-profit boards including OARS, the watershed association for the Assabet, Concord and Sudbury Rivers. I received my master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Regional Planning, which was a combination of planning, science, and law.
Why did you choose to run for this position?
Frecha: During my first term on the Selectboard I started learning the ropes. Stow is experiencing growth in its government in the form of many new officials. At present the board has a healthy working relationship and an eye to numerous tasks of government maintenance such as shepherding the charter and master plan revision and addressing the need for better water service in Lower Village. I would like to continue in these relationships and tasks, feeling that I have reached a momentum and understanding that could be valuable. I continue to learn through my volunteer efforts in town and welcome the opportunity to grow with the board as we regroup with new members.
I value the culture of Stow and recognize our high level of quality volunteer government and excellent town staff. I enjoy volunteering as a position of service and a means to participate in the community.
As a twenty-four year resident and having spent time in Stow in my youth, I cherish the tranquility of forests, farms in our landscape and the village aspect of historic buildings.
Hegemann Clark: I enjoyed my previous term on the Board of Selectman but decided not to run again at that time because I needed to spend more time with work and family. I have since retired and am now able to give the position more time and careful thought. In my opinion, the Selectboard works best when it works with all the boards and commissions in town. Stow is fortunate to have amazing staff and outstanding volunteers on our boards and commissions. The Selectboard needs to support and collaborate with those boards and commissions.
What do you see as the role of a Select Board member and what specific skills do you bring to that role?
Frecha: The Selectboard is primarily a policy-making entity and also the chief organizational body of the town. We are also the appointing authority for many of the staff and volunteer members of the town government. I see our role as setting an example of effective and courteous collaboration in making decisions for our town.
As an artist and craftsperson I have learned the value of collaboration. I often find that a project is richer and more well expressed through the opinions and knowledge of several contributors. Working collaboratively requires effort: listening and compromise and sometimes acceptance. It is rewarding to reach a solution through a process of inclusive conversation and collaborative effort.
My experience as a craftsperson also informs my process for working through the part of a project or conversation where things are not going well. By reassuring myself and others that I am committed to a successful outcome, I have built stronger relationships which then are better for collaboration.
Hegemann Clark: I was the executive vice president for an environmental engineering firm and have 38 years of experience as a planner and wetland scientist, as well as in management and firm accountability. I am now an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts/Lowell teaching wetland science, environmental labs and ethics for engineers. I believe I bring excellent listening skills, I understand the technical issues, and I work with teams to make decisions. I work collaboratively, I ask hard questions, and I am not afraid to take the minority position. Needless to say, my strongest skill is in environmental science, and I am proud of Stow’s work toward environmental sustainability and resiliency. Stow needs to support its farms, ensure the sustainability of its water supply, and continue to plan to develop a diverse and resilient quality of life for its residents.
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?
Frecha: The Selectboard recently approved use of ARPA funds for a feasibility study for the lack of sufficient water in Lower Village. The town has already reclassified a piece of conservation land near White Pond Road and part of the Lower Village to allow a public water supply through a lengthy process with the state legislature. In addition there is a parcel which was recently given to the town running behind some of the business district which has been discussed as a possible area to be utilized in water distribution.
It is my opinion that once options for water development have been identified the town could work with business owners and property owners to further plan how to get water sources developed and distributed. I do not believe the town ought to be responsible for running the operations of the water resources. I do feel strongly that the town is not in a position to offer the full development of water resources for current and future business development.
This change in water availability will benefit many, both citizens, business owners, property owners and visitors to our town. Why not share some part of development if there is a shared benefit?
Hegemann Clark: The town has been working on water supply issues in this area for a long time, however, I am not up to date with the most current town approach to the issues. Water supply is key to the economic sustainability of the area. In addition to water supply issues, the town needs to continue to work on the planning associated with its future uses and economic growth of the area. The protection of, use, and management of water withdrawal from the aquifer in this area important, as it is a valuable resource for the town overall, and for the lower village specifically. Both quality and quantity are important, as well as function of the water delivery infrastructure. The town needs to, if it doesn’t already, understand the specific issues and coordinate with the landowner(s) and the Department of Environmental Protection as necessary.
Frecha: I believe that we as a town need to balance growth and maintenance with conservation and preservation. It is not always easy to find the balance point.
As we know unless we create more opportunity for vibrant business development in Stow the taxpayers will continue to pay the bulk of the costs in our town budget.
All of these conversations can be collaborative: between boards and committees, and between citizens and government employees whether staff or volunteer.
I will stand for courteous debate in these conversations. I also will continue to look for commonality within our conversations and goals, as boards, committees and a town.
Hegemann Clark: I appreciate the opportunity to run for this position again and, if elected, look forward to serving.
Click here for interviews of the other three Select Board candidates Katie Fisher, Lenny Golder and Alex Riker.
Stow Town Election will take place on
Saturday, May 21
10:00AM – 4:00PM
CENTER SCHOOL, 403 GREAT RD