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Jack Attridge - Candidate for Moderator

Marblehead Beacon is presenting these candidate profiles in advance of our June 21 town elections with the goal of helping the community learn more about all of the individuals volunteering their time to run for public office. Please note that the answers included here are printed exactly as provided by each candidate, with only minor typographical edits. Marblehead Beacon does not endorse any candidate or validate any responses. All candidates for the Select Board, Town Moderator, Board of Health, Light Department, and School Committee who had available contact information were given the opportunity to respond to a set of questions specific to the office for which they are running.


What are your qualifications to serve as Moderator? 

My qualifications begin with my love for the Town of Marblehead. I have been an active participant in town meeting for as long as I can remember. I have been appointed or elected to and have led many town committees and some of Marblehead’s largest non profit organizations, most all ruled under Robert’s Rules of Order. I am keenly aware of the procedures that govern meetings, the issues that face our town, and the people involved.


What experience have you had leading meetings, and are you familiar with “Town Meeting Time”? 

My first appointed position in municipal governance in Marblehead was on the Capital Planning Committee in 1995. I served on the committee until 2002, the last three years as chairperson. I was co-chair with Judy Jacobi on the Website Development Committee from 2003-2006. I am currently the Chief Shellfish Constable. I am a two-time past president of the Marblehead Rotary Club, past president of the Goldthwait Reservation, Inc., past president of the Marblehead Museum and an advisor at Marblehead High School for the MHS Interact Club, where we foster members and officers to lead effective meetings. 


I am not sure what “Town Meeting Time” refers to. I am aware of the constraints of time when serving as moderator to oversee debate. Time is always second to making sure that article presentation and all sides of a discussion are heard. The moderator must also make sure that speakers adhere to time limits and don’t repeat what’s already been said.


What is your philosophy with regard to moderating debate, particularly on controversial issues? 

The factors that I would consider while moderating debate are rooted in order and respect. I would ensure that all article sponsors and presenters are given appropriate time for their presentations and that all perspectives during debate are allowed to be heard. Marblehead has faced many challenges over the years, yet the community has whole-heartedly supported the process and, through the Moderator, an orderly town meeting will assure that our business is thoughtfully completed. 


How would you evaluate the use of paper balloting at the most recent Town Meeting? How would you anticipate managing this process as Moderator? 

The paper balloting process is one of the ancillary details that I would work on with the Town Clerk to be sure it is properly organized and administered when requested under the appropriate circumstances. Each ballot must represent an individual voter and an individual article. We need to be sure that this system can be deployed quickly, with accuracy and accountability being the most critical components of the vote tallying method.


Why do you want to be Moderator? 

As mentioned before, I love Marblehead, right down to the granular details of Town Meeting. I also believe that I am a very fair-minded person with the ability to have respect for any and all sides of an issue. As a bit of a historian, I have always been amazed at how the business of the town is handled, from our elections to the week-to week operations and Town Meeting decisions. We weathered significant challenges during the birth of our nation and debated topics like building a small pox hospital, and supporting our own in times of trouble. Most recently, Town Meeting has debated and voted on approximately $100m of new schools. This purest form of democracy has made Marblehead what it is today, and I would consider it a great honor and privilege to be Town Moderator. 


Do you believe the Moderator should consider taking articles out of numerical order to better control the timing of articles that will require significant discussion?

The order of the Town Warrant is set by the Select Board and Article 1 on the Town Warrant gives the voters the opportunity to change that order. The Moderator does not have the ability or power to alter the order of articles. 


Do you have suggestions for how Town Meeting could be run more effectively? 

Yes, I have taken notes at town meeting for many years. The top of my list is focused on accessibility for all, technology, and being sure that we have yearly presentations of any outstanding capital projects initiated by town meeting. This year, paper balloting could have gone more smoothly. As moderator, I would be sure that before each town meeting the process for paper balloting on one or more articles is fully reviewed and prepared for including how paper ballots are distributed and collected. The Town Clerk and their staff do a good job checking people in and assisting during the meeting; I would also want to review any suggestions they have to improve the Town Meeting process.


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