To the editor:
My name is Bill Wagner and I am running for the Rockport Board of Selectman because I want to continue to serve my community. I am concerned about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — both for the safety of Rockport citizens and the economic impact on our community. Many of our residents and local businesses are already suffering the effects of these unusual times. It will be crucial to have selectmen who can bring experience and professional expertise to deal with the town’s financial and other challenges.
I believe a successful Board of Selectmen should function as a team to work through differing opinions and, with input from residents and businesses, find the best way forward. I am committed to the collaboration and understanding that will be required.
We will have many challenges going forward:
Local economy: This pandemic is affecting the vitality of our downtown, and this is personally concerning to me. A continued downturn in the state economy will make it difficult to preserve needed services in Rockport, and I will work to preserve town services. As one of your selectmen I am committed to seeking state and federal grants, and controlling increases in our taxes that may further burden our taxpayers, especially our elderly who are on fixed incomes.
Infrastructure: Our town buildings, roads, parks and other infrastructure require constant maintenance. We need good long-range planning to weather the downturn while maintaining and improving our existing town properties.
Education: A quality education is important for our children’s futures and for the town’s attractiveness to home buyers. We are challenged with declining enrollment, and we are studying cooperative efforts with Gloucester to achieve efficiencies. The schools are seeking to reduce the need for large overrides. I will support a reasonable override when necessary.
Long Beach: The beach and property behind the beach are owned by the town. The property is leased to homeowners, and the leases expire in three years. Complicating the situation, the deteriorating condition of the seawall requires costly repairs/replacement, that also have environmental impacts. With a concerted effort and dialog, we can find ways to fund the seawall repair without a dramatic increase in our taxes. As a member of the Board of Selectmen, I will actively work to initiate that dialog and a long-range plan that balances beach access for all Rockporters, homeowners rights and town financial capability.
I served the town for six years on the Finance Committee, giving me a strong knowledge of town budgets and operations and good relationships with town managers and committees. Previously, I had a 40-year professional career in financial planning and management in diverse industries following an master’s in financial management from MIT.
On a personal note, I’ve been married to Susan for 35 years and have two sons, Gregory and Andrew. As a family we do many things together and enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities — running, hiking, biking in Rockport and skiing in New England.
I hope you will allow me the opportunity to serve our community by casting one of your two votes for Selectman for me on Tuesday, June 30.