Candidate’s Statement Follow-Up
I am Dave Watkins and I am asking you to elect me as Selectman. I bring to the Select Board a unique set of skills from my strong business background, active involvement on Town boards, initiatives to support residents during this pandemic, and strong commitment to the betterment of Wayland. I will hit the ground running.
With a degree in finance, I started my career at Accenture before joining Ernst & Young. From there I started a software company and grew it to a $30 million international company headquartered in Wayland. My firm developed and delivered Human Resource Management programs to Fortune 500 businesses worldwide. As a member of Wayland’s Finance Committee for the past six years (two years as Chair) and the Economic Development Committee for three years, I gained significant insight into what Wayland should be doing better to address the Town’s financial, legal, and operational issues.
Effective town leadership demands proven organizational and management skills. Selectmen manage finances, oversee needed service delivery, deliberate in public, insist on decision making without prejudice, and stand up to lead in times of emergency or crisis. A Selectman’s responsibility for the well-being of an entire community does not allow bias towards a subset of the population. Historically in Massachusetts, those elected to Selectmen have distinguished themselves by their achievements.
When this race began in February, most were naïve about the changes that were about to befall us. Quickly, the lives of Wayland’s residents and normal business operations were turned upside down. Assisting people in adapting their lives to the drastic safety measures that were enacted called for strong leadership from Selectmen. Their willingness, flexibility and capacity to adapt to the changing circumstances were tested. The ability to stay in touch with our residents and use existing technology to communicate became essential. The ability to quickly and deliberately absorb new information and think on your feet was crucial. And, the ability to rapidly develop a new and thoughtful management plan for Wayland’s future is now critical.
More than ever, Wayland needs a well thought out, long-range strategic plan with a common set of goals and milestones to measure our achievement. We need to re-assess next year’s proposed budget carefully in anticipation of an expected shortfall in revenues and state aid. We have to plan for these unexpected deviations from the norm to avoid making hasty decisions when reality hits and we are scrambling for solutions. In these times it is especially important for Selectmen to put aside bias for special interest groups and make decisions that are in the best interests of the whole Town.
Towards the end of February, as the new pandemic moved toward our shores, I started working on what my experience indicated Wayland needed to plan for short- and maybe even long-term. Of immediate concern to me were support networks for residents who would have to self-isolate to avoid infection. How would our senior citizens and others with compromised immune systems access food and needed prescriptions and how would they cope with isolation and loneliness?
I issued “a call to action”, created the on-line platform www.wayland.info to organize the effort, and received an overwhelming community response. Over the past three months, I organized efforts and have gotten to know more than ninety Neighbors4Seniors residents who are making regular telephone calls to more than 2,200 senior citizens – offering human warmth, kindness, and a good chat. The callers direct citizens to Town departments and more general needed services to help them through these difficult days. The on-line platform highlights important Town Corona Virus phone numbers, shares a daily data sheet of food stores’ supplies of essential products, provides links to informational videos, and facilitated the efforts of Lillian Way neighbors to acquire face masks for themselves, with the vendor’s $1,170 in proceeds being donated to a regional food bank. A proud example of the generosity of Wayland creating definite win-win ripples. AARP recently recognized Neighbors4Seniors.
These outreach efforts were underway fully one month before residents were able to find any useful information on the Town’s web site. This demonstrates how imperative it is to bring the Town’s information technology capabilities into the 21st century and I want an opportunity to spearhead that effort. I have extensive experience developing information technology systems and I am ready to share it.
The Board of Selectmen must stop avoiding the development of plans to manage for the future. We cannot afford to make financial decisions by the seat of our pants. I can be the Selectman on the Board with the critical skills and experience to drive the strategic plan.
Wayland needs to moderate the tax burden and preserve Wayland’s character, educational superiority, and town services. I bring fresh ideas and the professional business and analytical capabilities to support those efforts. I am committed to being a leader who follows through and gets results. For more information about me and what I have already accomplished for the benefit of Wayland’s residents, please visit my website at www.Watkins4Wayland.com.
I am asking for your vote. The Town election is on Tuesday, June 9, but I encourage you to vote early by mail.
Thank you and stay safe,