Rochester voters will decide whether there will be a new Constable in town or if longtime Constable David Hughes will keep his paper-serving, town meeting-posting, car-repossessing position in the town’s one and only contested race in the April 10 Rochester Annual Election.
But there’s room enough in this small town for two constables, and there are two other candidates vying for the authority to evict you from your home. Voters were able to get acquainted with one of those other candidates, “new guy in town” Mark Slabodnick, during a meet-the-candidates event at the Senior Center on Thursday, March 21.
Slabodnick told voters about his background in law enforcement as a Boston Special Police Officer in Mattapan, Roxbury, Dorchester, and the Boston Housing Authority. With full powers of arrest, said Slabodnick, “[The position] included everything under the sun.” Like most constables, he assisted in matters of trespassing and serving court documents, and even assisted in assault and battery with firearms incidents the Attorney General’s Office eventually upgraded to attempted murder charges. “I’ve testified in court [on] numerous occasions,” said Slabodnick.
Slabodnick owns his own security company that supplies bodyguard security, asset protection, and bar, restaurant, and nightclub security.
“I have a lot of experience in the law enforcement community and doing this kind of work,” said Slabodnick, “but let’s face it,” he continued, “the constable is not the crowd’s favorite.
“Last time I checked, I am going to a house, knocking on the door to serve somebody that is already having a bad day – [they] are in a bad way for whatever circumstances that got them to that point. I have to give them a piece of paper – you have to be fairly careful about what you do and how you do it.”
The most important point to stress, Slabodnick said, is that a constable’s got to be respectful.
“From watching some constables in my line of work in Boston – you have to be respectful of that person no matter what,” said Slabodnick. “That person is a human and that person should be respected.” On the other hand, though, he added, “You have to do your job safely and you have to take care of yourself, also.”
Slabodnick started building his house on Hartley Road in 2014 and moved to town in 2017.
“I’m the new guy in town, so I’m running for constable and I would really appreciate your support,” said Slabodnick, who is also an interior carpenter.
For Hughes, “constabling” is what he does, and what he’s been doing for 40 years.
“I’ll do ‘no trespassings’ – if you don’t like the neighbor, you call me up,” Hughes said. “I do ‘repos’… evictions – they’re not nice. … I do all the postings for the town meetings, elections, planning board hearings, dog hearings…”
It’s what he’s paid to do, he says – $11 an hour.
“For anything that I do for the town, its $11 an hour,” said Hughes, which is how he manages his $2.5 million estate. “All supplied by my fees as constable.”
“He’s kidding here,” said emcee and Selectman Woody Hartley.
Hughes is also seeking reelection to the Park Commission, a role he explained in more detail.
“What I’m doing as a park commissioner … is, we designate times and days that you use our fields – soccer fields, lacrosse fields, little league fields – all through the season,” Hughes said. And with a town-funded budget of only $15,000, the commission manages to maintain the fields and facilities through donations and in-kind services from Marion field users.
According to Hughes, all the fields are completely booked for the entire season, and even some games are doubled-up.
The commission purchased a new pitching machine this year, Hughes said. “We are hoping that we’re going to get some grants and get some money this year because we want to put up a shelter on a concrete pad with some picnic tables.”
Also running for one of the two Constable positions is Carolyn Pruchnik who was unable to attend the event.
Board of Selectmen member Brad Morse is up for reelection, and aside from a few anti-establishment write-ins for Mickey Mouse, Morse is generally running unopposed.
“Thank you for your support in the past,” Morse said to his constituents. “I think we’ve done a lot of really great things … [and] I want to continue moving forward like we are.”
Morse, a selectman for 12 consecutive years, cited the smooth transition to the regionalized 911 service and the $500,000 in state-funded communications equipment upgrades that came with it as one of his successes in this his fourth term. For his fifth term, he says he will continue to move forward with the task to make the fire chief position full-time for the first time in Rochester history, while maintaining the financial practice of conservative town spending and “just keep going the way we’re going.”
The other uncontested races are as follows: Jeffrey Eldridge for Highway Surveyor, Diana Knapp for Board of Assessors, Lori Souza for Cemetery Commission, Glenn Lawrence for Board of Health, Dennis Desrosiers and Kimberly Burt for Library Trustees (two seats), Sharon Hartley for Rochester School Committee, and Richard Charon for Water Commission.
For the Annual Town Election on April 10, the polling station at the Rochester Senior Center at 67 Dexter Lane will open at 8:00 am and close at 8:00 pm.
By Jean Perry