Candidate Statement: Todd Johnson, Board of Selectmen
The candidate statement of incumbent Selectman Todd Johnson.
My name is Todd Johnson. I have been honored to serve you as a selectman for the past six years. During those two terms, I was selected by my colleagues to serve as their chairman four consecutive years. I believe that is a reflection of their confidence in my leadership abilities.
I assumed my duties during the difficult economic times we have come to know as the “Great Recession”. The impact of these conditions on our local government was profound, requiring vision, discipline, and hard work. Due to resignations of various colleagues, there was a time when you were served by only three selectmen, not the usual five. I, along with two colleagues, worked hard to ensure all of our duties were discharged on your behalf. During my tenure as chairman, the board carried out one if its most important obligations – the process of transitioning from one town manager to another. This was the first time in Tewksbury’s storied history that a change of this kind was carried out. I feel strongly that we made a solid choice and are currently served by an extremely capable professional.
Prior to my election to the Board of Selectmen, I served you as chairman of the Finance Committee, where I learned the intricacies of our municipal budget and the daily operations that each department carries out on our behalf. I am the only current candidate with that important background and I find that it helps me almost daily in my analysis of municipal issues.
In my professional career, I have served as an aide in the state legislature, am an attorney, and am employed as a senior leader for a national insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm. I represent the insurance industry as a gubernatorial appointee on a body that oversees our state’s workers’ compensation system, considered by many to be the leading system in the nation.
My commitment to Tewksbury doesn’t begin or end with elective service. For many years, I have served as a volunteer, director, and president of the Tewksbury Community Pantry, helping to assist those less fortunate among us. When my children were young, I was a regular coach in youth sports and was engaged in school councils and PAC activity. I am proud to live here with my wife of 24 years, Andrée, our two children, Monica and Adam, my mother-in-law, Aline, and our dog Fenway.
When voters assess my performance as selectman, I believe they will conclude that I have a track record of proven professional leadership. When those words are taken independently, each paints a picture reflecting my style, skills, and record. Let me explain why:
Proven…I am the only candidate in the race who has the experience necessary to represent our town on day one. My record is reliable and consistent. I support and have worked hard to promote transparency and more effective municipal government. My track record in dealing with job performance and ethical matters is strong and consistent. When I took office 6 years ago, we faced massive budget deficits, draconian service cuts, and selectmen resignations. Over the last 6 years, we have managed:
- The process of recruiting a new town manager for the first time in our town’s history
- Established solid financial management policies resulting in improved budgeting
- Fostered more transparency
- Ended the use of what I call the “cocaine of municipal finance” – the use of one time, non-recurring revenues to fund our operating budgets
- Made the commitment to replenishing our stabilization fund for emergencies and to improve our bond rating
- Brought an equitable approach to budgeting & resource distribution
Unlike my competitors, I will not require a learning curve because I have been hard at work for you already and believe we have set a strong foundation for continued improvement. There is still much to do as we continue to climb out of the worst economy since the Great Depression, but I am confident our house is in better order today than when I started.
Professional…Since my first day on the job, I have worked hard to be respectful, tolerant, inclusionary, and a consensus builder. My temperament and consistent professional approach set the tone for our board to manage through some very difficult times and some potentially divisive issues. We managed to keep labor peace with all of our union employees while mired in three straight years without contracts and salary increases; and, we negotiated substantial changes to our health insurance commitments. Through it all, my background has given me a strong foundation from which to represent our community. I believe we can agree to disagree, without being disagreeable. I believe my calm, respectful, and reasonable approach has fostered a more civil climate among all town leaders, resulting in a more collaborative effort to address the important issues of our day.
Leadership…Responsibility and accountability start at the top. I have been honored to serve as leader of the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen, representing recognition by my colleagues that steady and reliable leadership is important to the effectiveness of those respective bodies. I am proud that I was chairman:
- During the transition from one town manager to another
- During our effort to shift some of the exploding debt burden for our difficult sewer obligations to the tax rate to create a more equitable approach for our entire town and to thoroughly review indirect expenses and debt structure impacting rates.
- During the analysis and pursuit of a new high school to benefit our students and greater community for years to come
- During the development of the town’s first tax increment financing (TIF) program that attracted a major business to Tewksbury
- During the critical Tri-Town meeting who stood up for our town and made the case before US Transportation Secretary LaHood to prevent local access to South Tewksbury from Route 93
As we continue to pull ourselves out of the worst economy in our lifetime, we face many continuing issues. There is still a great deal to do:
- We need to remain focused and conscious of escalating costs and increased financial pressure on our taxpayers
- Our municipal budget lacks resources and services
- All departments need more resources to meet critical service requirements
- We face the real potential for Federal and State cut backs further challenging our financial status
- We need to address ways to attract new businesses and improve our overall quality of life
- We need to strive to meet Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) and pension obligations so we can maintain a healthy financial outlook
To accomplish all of this, I feel strongly that we must maintain a steady hand on the wheel, follow a disciplined approach, and continue to take the view that we are all in this together as opposed to fostering a divide and conquer strategy. In short, I have a record of accountability, made tough decisions, and have assumed leadership responsibilities on your behalf. I ask for your vote on Saturday April 6th, so I can continue to work hard for you to make Tewksbury the best it can be!