Meet Mattapoisett’s Select Board Candidates

            The July 27 special election for the vacant Select Board seat will be a contested race to the conference table with two residents tossing their proverbial hats into the ring.

            One candidate, Tyler Macallister, is a former Select Board member who served for eight years in that capacity before stepping down in 2019 to seek the position of town administrator. When that opportunity went to Mike Lorenco, Macallister made a bid for his vacated seat running against John DeCosta. That seat went to DeCosta, whose passing earlier this year reopened the seat. Macallister is now pursuing that vacancy.

            Kenneth Wilbur is also vying for DeCosta’s unexpired term. A self-proclaimed “newcomer” to local politics, Wilbur, a retired musician, educator, and U.S. Air Force veteran, said he is willing to study all facets of town government and the issues facing the community, and take time before making decisions.

            Macallister told The Wanderer during the 2020 selectmen’s race that it has always been his intention to try and return to the board. That sentiment has not changed. “I know the issues facing the taxpayers,” he said at the time. Macallister recently noted that many actions on the part of the Select Board will be needed in 2021 such as a decision on school consolidation and union negotiations over the next 18 months. “Mattapoisett is at a crossroads.”

            Along with his former Select Board seat, Macallister held a five-year seat on the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission and the Plymouth County Advisory Board and currently sits on the Finance Committee.

            “We are doing well in spite of COVID-19 because we planned for things like this with stability funds,” he said. “We came through because of a lot of hard work on the part of various boards and committees. I can continue those efforts to keep our funds strong.”

            Having had his teeth deep into municipal politics the past decade, Macallister has crafted positions on the front-burner issues facing Mattapoisett.

            Regarding the community’s often-discussed aging population, Macallister applauded the work done by the Council on Aging, although he believes the budget for this entity is rather small. “They have done a tremendous job,” he said. Macallister would be open to new forms of housing focused on seniors that are more affordable than market-rate units. “We need to investigate and support such proposals so people don’t have to leave Mattapoisett.”

            Of school consolidation, which Macallister believes would open the town up to new ways of using municipal real estate, he said that such a plan would take time to develop and that school consolidation could be slowly phased in, possibly through teacher attrition. He said the school budget would be positively impacted by school consolidation.

            The funding for such an effort as school consolidation and the relocation of Town Hall, which is also being considered as part of a larger plan, would necessitate debt. But Macallister pointed out, “We can and have used debt intelligently.… As debt expires, we bond another project.” He said this manner of borrowing is part of the reason the town earned a AAA bond rating.

            Macallister, 53, has a Master’s in Business Administration from UMass (Amherst) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marine Biology from UMass Dartmouth. He is a consultant to the renewable energy industry and owns and operates a charter fishing business. Originally from Cape Cod, Macallister and his family have lived in Mattapoisett for 20 years.

            Wilbur admits he has an uphill battle in coming up to speed on all the facets and issues facing the Select Board. Still, he said, “I’m retired; I have the time.” He said he always researches matters he is interested in to make better and more informed decisions. “I can do this; I’m a quick learner.” Wilbur also said that, if elected, he would spend several hours a day at Town Hall making himself available to the residents.

            Wilbur said there are not enough services for senior citizens in the community, but said he needs to visit with the Council on Aging to better acquaint himself with its programs. Of the seniors living in the town’s only subsidized housing project, he said, “Nobody seems to care about them.”

            Citing rising taxes as a big concern of his, Wilbur asserts that seniors are being taxed out of their homes and that there is a lack of affordable housing for young families. Of the biggest ticket item in the town’s budget, schools, he expressed concerns over rising salaries and the number of staff members in the schools’ employ. “Back in my day, there was one nun and 50 students.… Everyone did what they were supposed to do,” he said, adding that the town’s expenditures need more review.

            With a varied professional background, Wilbur has traveled the country as a musician as well as a member of the U.S. Air Force Band. Such experiences, he believes, have helped him to listen and learn. He also stressed, “I like to read,” a practice he believes will help him understand the role Select Board members play in the running of the town – a process he estimates will take him about six months after being elected.

            Wilbur, 68, is a graduate of Lowell State College (now part of UMass) where he studied music and performance. Finally settling in Mattapoisett approximately seven years ago, Wilbur attended local schools and has many extended family members in the community.

By Marilou Newell

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