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With veteran Select Board members opting not to run, opportunities for new candidates in upcoming election

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Featured: News, News

With the town election on the horizon on May 20, two veteran Select Board members announced this week that they are not seeking reelection.

Select Board chair Muriel Kramer said in an exclusive interview with the Independent on Feb. 10 that she has decided to run for a seat on the Governor’s Council instead. Two-term member and former chair Irfan Nasrullah in an exclusive Feb. 9 interview said his decision not to run was based on his desire to spend more time with his growing family.

“I want to focus on my family,” Nasrullah said. “With the baby, I just don’t see me being able to devote the appropriate amount of time that is required.”

Candidates for the Select Board, along with open seats on several boards and commissions, have the power to shift the dynamics of Hopkinton’s political landscape. But some potential candidates may be reluctant to run because recent tensions in town have shed light on the polarization of local politics.

Kramer announces Governor’s Council candidacy

“I am pulling papers to run for Governor’s Council on Tuesday,” Kramer said. “I’m super excited about it. I think it will be an incredible fit for me.”

At this time, Kramer will face two Democrat challengers as well as a Republican candidate, she noted. She is running for the seat vacated by Robert Jubinville.

On Dec. 15, 2022. Gov. Charlie Baker nominated Jubinville to serve as clerk magistrate of the Framingham District Court.  He was confirmed to serve as a clerk magistrate on Dec. 27, 2022. The Governor’s Council seat has been open since that time.

“It’s a huge district, and it’s a huge haul to run,” Kramer said about the 2nd District. “But it really fits my advocacy positions, and it is a spot where I can make a very constructive impact.”

She noted that most people believe that the Governor’s Council’s role solely involves judicial appointments. But it also provides advice on gubernatorial appointments, pardons and commutations, and warrants for the state treasury.

Because of her role with the Hopkinton Freedom Team and as a social worker, she hopes to provide a social justice lens under the Healey administration.

Town caucuses still in effect

Kramer stressed that party caucuses are still in effect this election cycle, which will allow potential candidates to seek nomination there without going through the process of gathering signatures.

Article 2 narrowly passed at November’s Special Town Meeting, ending the process of political caucuses being able to nominate candidates to town ballots. It also called for party affiliation not to be displayed with candidates’ names. Hopkinton was one of only 16 towns in Massachusetts that still used the party caucus system.

“This is actually important for people to understand,” said Kramer, “because they will be angry if they are expecting something different. The petition passed successfully at Special Town Meeting, and we sent it off to the Legislature. They have to take action on it to make it a thing.”

But because the Legislature has not yet passed Hopkinton’s home rule petition on the matter, Kramer said the caucus system still is in effect. Traditionally, this type of measure passes with little to no opposition.

Asked whether the current climate would either preclude people from running for office or give them added motivation, Kramer said it could go both ways.

“I think we will see some people who are motivated to run, and that’s not a bad thing,” Kramer said. “And I also think but we will never know that there were people who might have run but are thinking not at this time. That’s completely legitimate, and I get it. But it’s too bad.”

Opportunity for new voices to emerge

Two Democrats who serve on other committees in town, Kyla McSweeney and Peter Mimmo, already have indicated plans to run for the Select Board, and it appears likely they will have company.

Hopkinton Republican Town Committee chair Jim Mirabile said in a Feb. 9 Independent interview that this is an opportune time for new candidates to enter the mix if they are dissatisfied with town government’s recent actions. He noted the termination of Hopkinton Police Sgt. Tim Brennan (effective Feb. 12) as a major polarizing issue — and it has led to a recall effort by Brennan supporters targeting all Select Board members. The past two School Committee elections also caused some division in town.

“Where are our priorities?” asked Mirabile. “It seems like recent issues being discussed are about all sorts of peripheral things that are national in nature and won’t be solved in Hopkinton.”

He questioned the number of vacancies in key hired local government positions, such as the human resources director and the chief financial officer, at a critical time of transition for Hopkinton.

“The town management team is kind of in disarray,” he continued. “At some point, you have got to hold the leadership accountable.”

One way for residents to do that, said Mirabile, is to run for office. But some people with good intentions may not because of the current political climate.

“Some people more in the center don’t want to be bothered with the hassle of collecting signatures and running a campaign,” he added.

“Abolishing the caucuses was mostly symbolic,” continued Mirabile. “It probably makes it more challenging for us, because we can’t do it as simply as before to fill vacant positions. One benefit would be it will make candidates go out and get signatures and connect with voters about what they care about.”

He noted that the divisiveness began in 2016 with the national election. Since then, politics at all levels has shifted toward the left of the political spectrum.

“I just want people who can govern in a way that’s inclusive for all people, no matter their race, religion, party or gender affiliation,” Mirabile stressed.

He added that the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee is willing to assist potential candidates who are independent and unenrolled if they ask.

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