Google Sales Exec Adam Smith Appointed to Fill Vacant Light Department Seat
The Select Board and the Marblehead Municipal Light Department held a joint meeting on Wednesday night September 14, 2022, to interview and appoint a new member of the Light Department to fill the unexpired term of Karl Johnson, who resigned earlier this summer. The seat expires in June 2023.
Eight Marbleheaders submitted letters of interest for consideration by the two boards, as is the process dictated by town bylaws. Candidates included: Peter Barnet, James Full (former candidate for Select Board), Chris Hardy (former candidate for Marblehead Municipal Light Department), Matthew Harrington, Igor Pedan, Adam Smith, Thomas Veilleux, and Jim Zisson (former candidate for Select Board).
The board members interviewed each candidate and asked questions about background, budgetary experience, any potential conflicts of interest, understanding of the role of Light Commission members, and skills they would bring to the job. Upon completion of the interviews, the two boards voted in round-robin style. In the first round, two candidates, Thomas Veilleux and Adam Smith, were tied with four votes each. A second round of votes yielded a majority of five votes for Adam Smith.
Smith, who works for Google as a business executive, shared his background as a project manager and the related experience he will bring to the board. He wants to keep rates low and believes that dependence on fossil fuels leaves the community vulnerable to higher rates. Smart Meters, he believes, can help monitor customers’ time of use, allowing the department to “jack the rates during a hot day and lower rates on a normal day.” He also emphasized the planning leadership he performs in his day job and, if appointed, wants to take the time to learn from other municipal electric companies.
Smith’s resume includes a long list of corporate sales and other jobs–including many at Google during the last 16 years. For interests he includes, “sustainable organic agriculture, foraging, carbon emission reduction,” a desire to “explor[e] the world with a focus on beaches and ski mountains with [his] partner and 3 daughters,” and “raising the next generation of social justice warriors.”
In other business, Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer updated the Select Board on Attorney General (AG) approvals of articles voted on during Town Meeting 2022. The AG approved the leaf blower ban, which goes into effect during the summer months and has no penalty for violations, as well as the renaming of the Board of Selectmen to the Select Board and the change to gender neutral language in town bylaws. Still pending legislative approval is the bylaw change to specify that candidate names in local elections appear in alphabetical order. This change is “working its way through” the legislature and should be approved sometime in the future, explained Kezer.
Finally, during public comment, resident Allen Waller made a statement about an open meeting complaint he filed against the Select Board for omitting his public comment from the minutes for the May 18, 2022 meeting. At that meeting, Waller requested the town consider shopping for a new Town Counsel, as the current firm of Mead, Taleman, and Costa is not under contract. The minutes, approved on June 15, 2022, omitted Waller's comments. As per procedure in these cases, the Town Counsel (the firm Mead, Taleman, and Costa) replied to Waller and denied that this was a violation. They stated that “the public body used its discretion in omitting any such comments that did not relate to a specific agenda item and did not involve any discussion by the Board.… It is the Town’s position that it did not violate the Open Meeting Law in this regard.”
Waller expressed his dismay at this response and asked the Select Board to take a vote to “disavow” this statement and put his comments into the minutes. Chair Moses Grader explained that the Board would uphold the advice from Town Counsel and immediately adjourned the meeting.