A Barnstable Patriot article written on November 20th acts as a recollection and acknowledgement of Representative Will Crocker's service as both a Barnstable Town Councilor and as the state representative for the Second Barnstable District.
Taking Stock of Four Years
November 20, 2017
Since this will be the last time I will be able to write this column as both a Barnstable Town Councilor and as the state representative for the Second Barnstable District, I thought I would concentrate on the town council.
My last meeting as a town councilor for Precinct 6 in Centerville was last night (Nov.16). As I look back, it was a very fast four years. Swearing-in day back in December of 2013 was a blur. After the pictures and congratulations, there was a whirlwind of forms to fill out and folders to read to get up to speed on what was happening. I was nervous at my first council meeting, hoping not to make a mistake and look like a rookie, so I stayed very quiet at that meeting.
One of the things I campaigned on back in 2013 was the re-instatement of the Roads Committee, which had been dissolved several years earlier. I felt it needed to be brought back for a number of reasons, one being that there was not much of a voice for the public who live on private roads as to their condition / maintenance. Nearly half of the roads in the Town of Barnstable are private roads, and most people don’t even know they live on one -- until they ask the town to do something, and the town gives them the news that they live on one and are responsible for any major repairs and upgrades.
Well, this is where the old proverb “careful what you wish for” comes into play. Shortly after being sworn in, I was given my committee responsibilities. I was appointed to the newly re-formed Roads Committee. At the first meeting, I was made chairman. I was a little shocked, hoping that maybe I could sit on the new committee for a year or so, then maybe work my way up to chair. Not so!
I was given a great deal of help, however, by Councilors Jim Crocker and then-Councilor Ann Canedy. They both wanted to see a Home Rule Petition passed by the committee, sent to the full Town Council, then onto the State Legislature, allowing the town to expend public funds for the maintenance of certain private roads in town. That ordinance was approved locally and with the help of our local state delegation (at the time, Representatives Brain Mannal, Randy Hunt, and Cleon Turner as well as State Senator Dan Wolf). It was approved, and I am very proud of having been part of that process. The Town of Barnstable is one of only a few towns in the Commonwealth that can expend public funds on certain private roads. Ironically, now as a state representative, I have worked on four Home Rule Petitions in my first year.
Another accomplishment was the hiring of a new town manager. Once the pathway for selecting that new town manager was established, there was a professional, orderly and comprehensive process. While the council incurred criticism expending the money to ultimately select someone who was already in the position on a temporary basis, I contend now as I did then, that Mark Ells appreciated the complete vetting process and the opportunity to state his case for the permanent position. Mark has worked out fantastically as town manager, and I look forward to the continuing to reach out to him, and the town, as state representative.
Lastly and most recently, I am proud of being part of the process that allowed the voters of the Town of Barnstable to make some substantial changes to Town Charter. As a councilor, I was on the Charter Review Subcommittee that met many times with town employees, department heads, current and former town administrators from across the Cape and others to come up with some suggestions to update the document that is the operating instrument for the town. Those proposed changes were agreed upon in the subcommittee, then approved by the full council, and because they are changes to the way the town operates, they also needed to be approved in the State Legislature. Now, I put on my State Rep. hat.
Those changes were submitted in a bill that was placed in the purview of The Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. I spoke in favor of the changes and worked the legislative process through that committee and others, onto the House floor for approval, to the Senate for approval, then back to the House for enactment, then back to the Senate for enactment, then onto the governor’s Desk for his signature. From the outset, the Council insisted these changes would not be made without a vote of the town. That happened 10 days ago, on Nov. 7, when voters approved them.
I served on a number of committee and subcommittees and was liaison to several in my four years on the town council. I enjoyed all of them. I’m not going to name them for fear I will forget one or two of them. There are a few things that I did not finish in those four years, and I hope they will eventually come to fruition, possibly with the seating of the new council in December.
I will miss my colleagues on the council, but as I said when I ran for the state representative seat in 2016, If elected, I will serve out my term and not seek re-election. Last week, the voters in town went to the polls and put four new members on the council. Precinct 6 will now be represented by Paul Neary. I believe he will do a great job. And Paul, when I get a call that a street isn’t plowed this winter, I’m giving them your cell number!
To the other new members of the town council: Britt Beedenbender in Precinct 4, Matt Levesque in Precinct 10, and Paula Schnepp in Precinct 12, I wish the greatest of good fortune. Please take your position seriously, as I know you will, and govern by keeping in mind that you speak for the residents of your precinct.
Council leadership has asked that I come back from time to time and update them on what is happening on Beacon Hill. Will do. It is a bit of a relief that I will not have to race out of Boston on a Thursday afternoon to make it to a Town Council session, but it will take some time getting used to it. I will miss it. It was an honor and a responsibility. It taught me a great deal about decision-making and how hard it can be. Nothing important is ever easy, but it was fun. Please don’t misconstrue that as a cavalier statement. I believe that hard work can be a pleasure if you keep in mind that it is for the greater good of whom you speak for. I will keep that in mind as I continue to work for the Town of Barnstable as state representative. Thank you, Barnstable Town Council, for four wonderful years.