Candidate for three-year term on the Southbridge Town Council
David J. Smick, aged 65, is one of seven candidates for three three-year terms on the Town Council. The owner/operator of Red Star Oil, Co., has served in a number of capacities over the years, both elected and appointed. Smick has previously served 5 1/2 years on the Town Council, one year on the School Committee, a pair of three-year terms with the Planning Board, a three-year term on the Zoning Board of Appeals, vice chairman of the Mary E. Wells Junior High School Building Committee, chairman of a past Charter Review Committee, and chairman of Town Hall Handicap Access Committee.
Smick believes that in order to be a good councilor, one needs to show up to meetings — both at the subcommittee level and at the regular Town Council meetings — and “have a working knowledge” of the way local government works per its various ruling documents.
The main issues in town needing to be addressed, according to Smick, include the town’s financial position, continued economic development, a street resurfacing plan, the underperforming schools, compliance with the Town Charter, and capital needs, including a six-year capital improvement plan.
The Citizen Chronicle: What prior experience do you have that makes you qualified to serve?
David Smick: My wide-ranging experience in Southbridge government, including budget and financial matters, and my willingness to work as a team player demonstrates my qualifications to serve on this Town Council.
The Citizen Chronicle: What do you think makes a good Town Councilor?
David Smick: Under this form of government, we must never forget that we are representatives of the people. Whether you’re a seated Councilor or a candidate for Council, you have to accept the fact that you must commit to attending the meetings. When a Councilor is absent from a meeting, the voter loses their representation. Candidates and seated Councilors should both have a working knowledge of the Town Charter, the Town By-Laws, the Rules and Regulations, and parliamentary procedure.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the future of the fire station?
David Smick: Obviously, the building has many problems that need to be solved. Currently, there is a Fire Department Building Committee. I would like to wait until that Committee has completed the proper studies, before moving forward with making any decisions.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the status of the public school district?
David Smick: I thought the State was premature in its takeover of the school system through receivership, and I continue to feel that way as we are still underperforming today. In my opinion, the town should have been given another year. I think we were headed in the right direction during the 2015-2016 school year in which receivership was enacted. The instability and high turnover rate in administrators has continued to still be an alarming problem.
Financially, the bill for school choice, charter schools, and unemployment in the school system is over $3,000,000 a year.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the status of the landfill?
David Smick: I hope that Casella will honor its contractual obligations to the town, including curbside trash and recycling pickup for Southbridge citizens until 2027. We still have the issue of closing and capping the landfill under the watchful eye of the Department of Environmental Protection.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the hotly debated riverside park proposal?
David Smick: I believed then, as I do now, that it would have been a nice attraction to have for the citizens of Southbridge. From the beginning, the waterpark deal had some issues regarding financing, communication problems, and the soil contamination abatement process. I would be open to future waterpark plans that have resolved these issues.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the reputation of the town and its leadership?
David Smick: My main issue regarding the town leadership began many years ago with the start of the decline of our education system, which has been snowballing ever since. Everything in the town, leadership included, began their continued declines with the school system. When in such a decline, it is difficult to establish new growth and invite businesses and families to make Southbridge their home in a town with an underperforming school district.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the future of Town Manager Ron San Angelo?
David Smick: I think that Ron San Angelo is a nice guy and has a good personality. I have not had the opportunity to work with him, so I have yet to be provided with enough knowledge to make an evaluation on the Town Manager’s performance regarding his future. The limited exposure that I have had with the Town Manager has shown me that compliance with the Town Charter is not his strong suit.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is Southbridge’s greatest asset?
David Smick: The town’s diverse culture, infrastructure, and the resilience and spirit of its people are the greatest assets that Southbridge has to offer.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is Southbridge’s greatest problem?
David Smick: As I stated earlier, financial problems of all kinds, including the $3,000,000 to school choice and unemployment each year, hinder the town’s ability to operate efficiently and effectively. While throwing money at a problem is not always the answer, if that three million dollars were available to us for other needs, many of our problems would find solutions. In the future, with experienced councilors keeping cooler heads, possessing the ability to communicate, and that are willing to tackle the tough issues, there is not a single problem that we will not be able to solve together as a team.
This week, The Citizen Chronicle will be publishing interviews with the current candidates for a seat on the Southbridge Town Council. This year there will be four seats on the general election ballot on June 12. There will be three three-year seats decided on by the voters, and one one-year seat to fill a vacancy made by the resignation of Wally MacKenzie.
Interviews with the current Town Council candidates will be published in transcript-form. The publication schedule is as follows:
- David Adams, candidate for three-year term — Wednesday, April 25
- Kristen Auclair, candidate for three-year term — Thursday, April 26
- Esteban Carrasco, Jr., candidate for one-year term — Tuesday, April 24
- Joseph Cotrona, candidate for three-year term — Thursday, May 10
- John Daniel, candidate for three-year term — Wednesday, April 25
- Jack Jovan, candidate for one-year term — Friday, April 27
- Scott Lazo, candidate for three-year term — Sunday, April 29
- Mike Marketti, candidate for three-year term — Thursday, April 26
- John Pulawski, candidate for one-year term — Friday, April 27
- David Smick, candidate for three-year term — Sunday, April 29