Select Board only contested race on May ballot

Mar 27, 2023

The ballot is set for the Town Election on Tuesday, May 2. 

Three people are running for two three-year seats on the Select Board, making it the election’s only contested race. The two candidates who receive the most votes will earn spots on the board. 

Meanwhile, two members of the embattled Sewer Commission have declined to run for reelection, and only one candidate, Finance Committee Chair Bernard Pigeon, is running to replace them. 

Incumbent Select Board Chair Judith Whiteside and Clerk Tricia Wurts are running for reelection. Aiming to unseat one of them is Jim Munise, who served on the Select Board from 2019 to 2022 and lost his reelection bid that year.

“I knew that I needed more than one term to get what I needed to get done, done,” Munise said. “I need a second term in order to do that.” 

“I’m running for reelection because I love this town and all of the people who have chosen to live here and work here,” said Whiteside, who has been on the Select Board four separate times since 1981. 

Whiteside said that her many years of experience have given her a great deal of knowledge about the workings of town government.

“You have to know where you came from to know where you are going,” she said. 

In her most recent term on the Select Board, one of Whiteside’s proudest accomplishments has been serving on the Redevelopment Authority, helping to create its downtown urban renewal plan.

“I want to see the redevelopment and reinvigoration of downtown Wareham,” she said. 

She added that in recent years, downtown Wareham has seen an explosion of private investment, notably Danny Warren’s Main Street marina project. Rezoning downtown for taller, denser mixed-use buildings, Whiteside said, will create opportunities for more investment.

Wurts won a seat on the Select Board in 2022, after mounting a successful campaign to finish the remainder of retiring board member Peter Teitelbaum’s term. 

“I wasn’t looking to be a selectman,” she said, “but I ended up getting to know the town further... I finally made the decision to run [again] because I’m so much more aware of how good a town it is, how much talent it takes to run it. I seem to work really well with the current selectpeople.” 

As big business eyes Wareham for investment, Wurts believes that her background in the corporate world can help her balance economic interests with the interests of local residents.

A prime example of this is solar energy companies looking to build solar fields in Wareham.

“I believe in good alternative energy,” Wurts said, “including solar, but I believe in it when it is put in the right place and done correctly. That means that it should not interfere with the lifestyle of our citizens, the value of their properties or how they feel about Wareham as a whole.”

She wants to help the town pursue ongoing projects like the urban renewal plan in a way that benefits citizens from all walks of life. 

Munise thinks that the urban renewal plan is a “great idea,” but dislikes the idea of tall buildings blocking scenery. To him, economic gains should not come at the expense of current property owners. 

He also thinks that the new zoning bylaws must include language promoting inclusionary housing, which would require a percentage of housing units in real estate developments to be set aside as affordable.

A lack of inclusionary housing “puts an additional burden for the town to find ways to keep up with state-mandated affordable housing requirements,” he said. “We need to plan now and not wait until we have our backs up against the wall.”

School Committee Chair Kevin Brogioli and Secretary Joyce Bacchiocchi are running unopposed for three-year terms.

“I think we’ve made some good strides,” said Brogioli, who has been on the School Committee since 2020. “I’m very happy with hiring the new superintendent [Dr. Matthew D’Andrea] this term... Ultimately what I’d like to see is test scores go up, although test scores are not the be-all end-all.”

If reelected, Brogioli wants to focus on keeping more Wareham students in the district.

Bacchiocchi also noted her past experience and praised D’Andrea for his work to keep Wareham students in Wareham schools.

“One of the biggest issues faced by our students and teachers is continuing to make up for what was lost in the pandemic,” she said, “academically and otherwise. As a School Committee member I would like to continue to work to support our staff and students and be sure that they have all of the resources necessary to do this.”

Incumbents Priscilla Porter and James McCahill are running unopposed for three-year seats on the Board of Assessors, incumbent Robert Powliatis is running unopposed for a five-year seat on the Housing Authority and incumbent Shelli Mobilia is running unopposed for another three-year term as town constable.