Jackie Belf-Becker - Candidate for Select Board
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 is your professional experience, including handling budgets, and how has your background prepared you to serve on the Select Board?
I am an attorney. I ran my own practice until I became the Bureau Director of Special Education Appeals for the Commonwealth. I have handled many budgets during my professional experiences. At the Bureau I worked on budgets. As a member of the Marblehead School Committee for almost six years, I worked on budgets. As a member of the Select Board for 17 years, I am intimately involved with our budgets. I also sat on the School’s budget sub-committee.
Having served in two elected Boards has given me the opportunity to understand town government, methods of dealing with the public and getting things done.
If you are currently serving on the Select Board, what do you believe are your most significant accomplishments thus far?
My accomplishments include many years of serving on various committees, complete understanding of the inner workings of our government, and a AAA bond rating since 2009 which has put Marblehead in a strong financial position and has kept our tax rate lower than most other communities while providing necessary services.
Additionally, when serving as Chair, I have headed a cohesive Board that has worked collaboratively for the betterment of the town.
We do not approach change just for the sake of change. Having said that, we have a plethora of new initiatives that are due to grants and working groups. These grants and committees have been very successful.
What are your top priorities to accomplish this year if elected or re-elected to the Select Board?
We all would like to see better roads and sidewalks in Marblehead. The amount of money that we get from the state, chapter 90, is never enough to complete the job. It’s been a long time in planning but this Election Day will give voters an opportunity to vote for a debt exclusion override to fund a comprehensive road and sidewalk program over the next 5 to 6 years. This infusion of money would allow the town to make these improvements, including roofs on public buildings, boiler improvements and much-needed technology improvements.
That is my top priority for next year.
Has the Select Board done a good job communicating with and inviting feedback from the community? What needs improvement in this arena?
I believe that we have done a good job. We receive emails and letters from the public which we answer to the best of our abilities. The Town’s website had a great deal of timely information. Citizens can sign up for email alerts on various topics. Of course, there is always something new and we can always do better.
Has the Select Board done a good job with hiring and appointing members to serve our community?
We have a process to appoint applicants to our committees and boards and I believe that this process works. We announce vacancies and give everyone an opportunity to apply and volunteer. We have also just hired a new Town Administrator after a lengthy screening process.
Do you believe that override questions should be presented to the community as a menu of spending choices with the option to prioritize, or should all items be combined to pass or fail together?
I believe that all items should be combined together because we do not take overrides lightly and we put in hours of research before recommendations are made.
Do you believe the members of the Select Board should serve for one-year terms or should the terms be longer? Should there be term limits for this role?
I believe that one-year terms actually work. There is an opportunity for those who work well to continue to serve and for those who do not work well don’t get re-elected.
I do not believe in term limits. There needs to be institutional memory; term limits would create upheaval for no good reason.
I have always strived to work collaboratively as a Select Board member.