Marion Candidates Make their Pitches

Board of Selectmen:

Norman Hills (incumbent)

            As the incumbent I have clear understanding of the current issues and the challenges we see in the near future. I believe that the synergy of the current Board works well for the town; there is more that I can contribute in another three years. Since 2003 I have been appointed to four different Marion committees, elected to two more for a total of 45 man-years of demonstrated community involvement. I am very familiar the Town infrastructure, planning processes, and municipal organization.

            I am an engineer and a program manager, accumulating 50 years of management and leadership positions in government and private industry. I understand the importance of teamwork, documented processes, and the critical importance of good people working with you.

            Marion’s aging residents present a challenge; our Council on Aging is doing a tremendous job supporting them with a multitude of programs. The Master Plan Housing section goals and the COA’s AARP Age-Friendly Marion study identify housing to age in place as a major objective. Marion’s Bylaw Codification subcommittee working with SRPEDD is evaluating our bylaws housing requirements with respect to open space. I would recommend augmenting this grant to evaluate housing requirements with respect to aging in place and affordability.

            Thanks to the Finance Committee and finance director/town accountant, Marion has the highest bond rating (AAA) available, allowing us to borrow money at the lowest rate. Should a $1,000,000 grant become available, I would apply it to the Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades to help reduce the financial impact on enterprise participants. The cost of this unwelcome project is high but small compared to the staggering fines if not completed. It would complement the $2,000,000 state funding Representative Strauss has helped us secure.

            If I could make one change to Marion’s zoning ordinances, it would be make them easier to understand, to remove the inconsistencies that creep in over time as changes are made. I have been working on this objective as part of the Bylaw Codification Subcommittee.

            Marion needs more residents interested in public service, and establishing a Citizens’ Academy could help. Developing a series of meetings to explain the operations of Town government would increase understanding and awareness of the challenges facing municipal government.

            Thank you, Norm Hills

Joseph Zora Jr.

            My name is Joseph Zora Jr. and I am a candidate for the Marion Board of Selectmen. I’m 72 years young and I am a third-generation resident of Marion. I am a retired electrical engineer after working at Sippican / Lockheed Martin in Marion for 38 years.

            The reason that I am running for the Board of Selectmen is for future generations. The many multi-million-dollar expenditures on sewer and water projects with little regard for taxpayers are a rush to complete the Master Plan. If Wareham becomes a Regional Sewer System that Marion ties into, our costs would be between $30 and $40 million dollars. Both the sewer rate payers and taxpayers need a break from the onslaught of the Master Plan. The dream being pushed forward for the Town of Marion has to touch the reality of cost.

            Thank you, Joseph Zora Jr.

Planning Board: 

Christopher Collings (incumbent)

            Our family moved into Marion in 2001 and we have enjoyed living here and raising our kids (both now in college). I joined the Marion Planning Board three years ago as a write-in candidate because I wanted to contribute. At that time, the number of open positions on various town boards exceeded the number of people willing to participate – requiring several to take on more than one role. Of all the challenges Marion faces, in my opinion, this is the largest and most challenging. We need as much citizen participation as possible, with all their diverse views and opinions. I like to think that I am able to contribute to Planning Board discussions by sharing different perspectives (often a result of observations from my work travel that takes me across and through more than 20 states each year).

            Working in support of Jody Dickerson and the town Recreation Department, I helped inaugurate Marion Community Sailing, a program that offers sailing to Marion adults that otherwise have not had an opportunity to get out on the water. Expanding this program to include our seniors is an important goal.

            Looking forward into 2020, ‘21 and beyond, the Planning Board is tasked to resolve lingering housing issues including density and multifamily units. Housing density limits need to be addressed. New development projects need to be limited to no more than 6-8 homes per acre. The current 12 unit limit does not reflect what Marion looks and feels like. We don’t have many large or open tracts left that are available to develop so it will be important to balance our needs with our collective vision. We need to look past short-term “wins” and build strategies and plans that produce the best possible long-term outcomes. This is when and how diverse opinions are needed most.

            I humbly ask for your vote to return for a second term on the Marion Planning Board, as well as encourage every town citizen to participate, join our regular meetings, and share your opinions.

            Thanks in advance, Chris Collings

Norman Hills (incumbent)

            Having served two separate three-year terms, I have been leading the Bylaw Codification Subcommittee to resolve the problems identified by the Codification Review; this provides me with a unique understanding of our bylaws. We need to make zoning ordinances easier to understand and remove the inconsistencies that creep in over time with additions. An example is one bylaw allowing one unregistered vehicle and another allowing two unregistered vehicles.

            I was instrumental in getting the latest Master Plan developed and approved. The Planning Board has been successful in addressing some of the Master Plan goals, but overall we need more community involvement. The Planning Board can generate more interest in people serving in public office by contracting for on-site training for all Board members and interested citizens. The Citizen’s Planner Training Collaborative can provide training designed to increase understanding and awareness in many aspects of town planning.

            Since 2003 I have been appointed to four different committees and elected to two more for a total of 45 man-years of demonstrated community involvement, making me very familiar with Marion’s infrastructure, planning processes and municipal organization.

            Housing is a major concern for seniors hoping to stay in Marion, both according to the Master Plan and the AARP Age-Friendly Marion study co-authored by the Council on Aging. The Bylaw Codification Subcommittee has a grant with SRPEDD reviewing our bylaws to evaluate housing requirements with respect to open space. I would recommend an additional or augmented grant with respect to aging in place and affordability.

            My first priority in improving the Town’s financial standing is to increase revenue by completing our ongoing study with SRPEDD addressing housing density with respect to open space in residential areas. The objective is revised bylaws that will encourage the type of development identified in the Master Plan; village style.

            If the Planning Board received a $1,000,000 grant, I would recommend that it be used to design and construct some of our identified Complete Streets projects.

            Thank you, Norm Hills

Eileen J. Marum (incumbent)

            I respect Marion, its residents, town employees and fellow Planning Board members, and with perfect attendance, punctuality and solid preparation; I make decisions rooted in science, analysis, land-use bylaws, and consider public health and safety.

            My education at Smith College (AB Government; minor in Economics and Environmental Science), UMass Dartmouth (MPP Public Policy concentration Town Administration; MPW Master Professional Writing) and Tufts Medical Center (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) continues with classes at Holy Cross via the Citizens Planning and Training Collaborative. With the climate crisis looming, the CPTC Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program explored nature-based solutions for coastal and inland flooding.

            In 2018, I attended Cannabis Control bylaw programs and drafted Marion’s Marijuana bylaw that was reviewed by Town Counsel, approved at Town Meeting, and endorsed by Attorney General Maura Healy.

            My experience includes: Planning Board Codification Committee; Board of Commissioners, SRPEDD (5 years); and Energy Management Committee. I reviewed and updated bylaws for the Town of Easton.

            For Marion to thrive, it must evolve.

            I performed a SWOT analysis that showed: the need for low impact housing/condos, safe sidewalks, benches, biking, and walking paths/trails for seniors. In 2017, I supported and shepherded a zoning change for Residence E multifamily housing.

            On Codification Subcommittee, we are reviewing and updating Conservation Subdivisions (§230-10.1 – §230-10.19) and how open space that is set aside compares with flood-plain and green infrastructure mapping, and Conservation Subdivision (§230-12.1 – §230-12.8), which is limited to Residence C and applicable to land of 50 plus acres.

            Amidst coronavirus, I would use a $1,000,000 grant first to repair water/sewer pipes to stop the inflow and infiltration of stormwater into the sewer systems; overcapacity at the Wastewater Treatment Plant could cause a backflow of sewage/wastewater into basements, households and streets, causing a potential public-health catastrophe. Second, I would ensure first responders have appropriate safety equipment, professional sanitization of work areas and vehicles, body-temperature checks, and hazard pay.

            I respectfully ask for your vote.

            Thank you, Eileen J. Marum

Joseph Zora Jr.

            My name is Joseph Zora Jr. and I am a candidate for the Marion Planning Board. I’m 72 years young and I am a third-generation resident of Marion. I am a retired electrical engineer after working at Sippican / Lockheed Martin in Marion for 38 years.

            I feel that the rezoning changes that have been implemented in the last few years and the passing of the Master Plan have had an adverse effect on the town’s financial standing. The increase in water and sewer rates are hurting all taxpayers and for those on fixed incomes. There need to be fewer changes to our bylaws, less complexity and more common sense.

            Thank you, Joseph Zora Jr.

Board of Assessors: 

Patricia DeCosta (incumbent)

            I have been a Massachusetts Accredited Assessor since 2001. I worked for the Town of Marion for 27 years, during which time I worked as a Secretary to the Building Department, Harbormaster, Shellfish Officer, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, Board of Health and, for the last 14 years of my employment, for the Board of Assessors as Associate Assessor. I am very familiar with the operation of the Town and understand how the departments need to work together to ensure that the Town is well managed and financially secure.

            The Assessors’ Office plays an important role in the Town’s financial standing. It is the office that generates revenue for the Town. My top priority would be to make sure that all real estate and personal property is assessed fairly and equitably so that property values and new growth continue to get approved yearly by the Department of Revenue in a timely manner. This process allows the Town to set a Tax Rate and operate efficiently, a major factor in Marion’s high bond rating and ability to borrow money at a low rate of interest.

            The Assessors work under the Laws and Guidelines of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Assessors review confidential information regarding our Seniors, Veterans, Businesses and Exempt Entities. After reviewing this confidential information, each Assessor on the Board must make a decision based on Massachusetts Laws as to whether or not the applicant qualifies for an exemption, an abatement or a tax-exemption. These decisions are not always easy and not always popular so an Assessor needs to be able to make difficult decisions regardless of personal feelings and/or the fear of public disapproval of a decision.

            While I was working I enjoyed serving the public and tried to help them in any way I could. So when I retired, it just seemed like a natural transition to use my knowledge and abilities to continue to serve the Town as an elected official. I ask for your vote for Assessor so that I may continue to serve you, the taxpayers of the Town of Marion.

            Thank you!

            Patricia DeCosta

Joseph Zora Jr.

            My name is Joseph Zora Jr. and I am a candidate for the Marion Board of Assessors. I’m 72 young and I am a third-generation resident of Marion. I am a retired electrical engineer after working at Sippican / Lockheed Martin in Marion for 38 years. I am also a trustee for Camp Hadley on Mary’s Pond.

            We have recently received a tax bill for the camp for over $10,000 in spite of being a recognized 501C charitable organization. This camp is very important to continue to foster scout craft for the Marion Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. I feel that every organization or taxpayer should have a right to be heard directly by the Board of Assessors.

            Thank you, Joseph Zora Jr.

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