Jack Jovan

Candidate for one-year term on the Southbridge Town Council

Jack Jovan, aged 55, an insurance fraud investigator and former police chief in the towns of Brimfield and Holland, is running for the one-year seat on the Town Council that was vacated by the resignation of Wally MacKenzie in January.

Jovan spent 11 years on the Southbridge School Committee, including seven years as its chairman. He believes his experience there, as the current chairman of the Fire Station Building Committee, and having served in numerous other capacities, including as a citizen member to the Town Council’s Protection of Persons and Property Subcommittee, the Southbridge Middle/High School Building Committee, and Southbridge School Superintendent Search Committee, positions him well for a seat on the Town Council.

In Jovan’s point of view, a good member of the Town Council is one who will respectfully listen to all sides on an issue while refusing to factor personal biases into the decisions for the betterment of the town. The main issues in town needing to be addressed, according to Jovan, include providing financial stability as the revenue generated through landfill royalties is coming to an end.

The Citizen Chronicle: What prior experience do you have that makes you qualified to serve?

Jack Jovan: I have served in several capacities in town government both as an elected official as well as an employee. I have worked as an EMT/firefighter for the towns of Holland and Brimfield as well as serving as the police chief in those two towns. My experience as a town department head provided me with a solid foundation as to how departments operate, how municipal employee contracts work as well as how to formulate and manage budgets. This experience has served me well as I worked across the aisle on the town side in Southbridge when dealing with departments and employees.

The Citizen Chronicle: What do you think makes a good Town Councilor?

Jack Jovan: My belief is that a good Town Councilor is one that has the best interests of the town and our residents at the forefront. An elected official must weigh all of the facts that are before them, seek input from the citizens and then make the best decision for the Town. A good councilor should not and must not insert their personal bias and agenda into the decisions that are made.

A good councilor also must be willing to listen to all sides of the argument, the good and the bad and must always respect the opinions of others, despite how much they may disagree with that opinion.

Finally, a good councilor will treat everyone with respect.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the future of the fire station?

Jack Jovan: The Fire Station is the last public safety and town facility that needs to be addressed. The station is outdated and not conducive to the needs of a 21st century fire department. I serve as the chairman of the Fire Station Building Committee, and we are currently conducting a feasibility study to determine what the future of the facility will be. The town will have a better understanding once this study is completed and we will be holding public meetings to the town residents as to what the next steps as well as possible costs to the town.

The study will also determine if the current station and the footprint it is on would be suitable for renovation and/or new structure.

I fully support the town moving forward to address the need of a new station.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the status of the public school district?

Jack Jovan: Having served on the school committee for many years, I am aware of the issues that we have faced and the reasons for the decision that the state made to put the district into receivership. While I disagree with many of the assessments the state made to come up with that decision, we as a community need to work with the state to put the district on the right tract. I do not believe that money alone will solve the problems that the district faces, we will need to work with the receiver to prioritize the needs of the school without affecting the other services that the town has.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the status of the landfill?

Jack Jovan: The landfill issue has been heavily debated throughout the years and the end of the life is now upon us. The town needs to make sure that Casella honors their commitment and that we are not left with a site that will not be correctly closed.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the hotly debated riverside park proposal?

Jack Jovan: I believe that this proposal would have benefitted the town in that it would have cleaned up the area along East Main Street going towards Dudley and would have also provided the town with some additional open space to hold events I believe that this issue should have been resolved by better communication on all fronts.

My concern with the project was that there were several issues that needed to be addressed regarding any potential issues with the land in that area. I did not want this project heading down the road of the Department of Public Works building where the town paid approximately $1 million for a facility that ended up costing 15 times that amount and left the town with some potential issues relative to hazardous waste.

The owner of the property provided some vague assurances that there were no issues with the site and that his company would maintain the property and it would be a cost to the town. However, the company has not maintained the area currently and the falling fences and debris along the line have not been addressed in a number of years. What assurance did the Town have in writing? Again, communication would have been beneficial in moving these issues forward to a resolution.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the reputation of the town and its leadership?

Jack Jovan: We need to address the perception of the town as a bad place to live and we seem to perpetuate this belief by appearing on the outside that we cannot govern our community. We need to address the working relationship between all in government and create a culture where it is okay to disagree, but to do it in a respectful and positive manner.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the future of Town Manager Ron San Angelo?

Jack Jovan: Town Manager San Angelo certainly has been an advocate in promoting the community and has been out in the public more than some other recent town managers. However, I do believe that there is a fractured relationship that needs to be addressed between the Town Council and Town Manager.

The Town Manager’s contract needs to be addressed as there are too many lingering issues with the current status. The town of Southbridge needs stability in management and I have concerns as to the relationship between the Town Council and the Town Manager. Given his statement to the Council last year about not wanting to discuss a new contract and the recent revelations that he is a candidate for other positions out of town, I am not certain as to the level of commitment that he has towards the town. The next Council needs to work with the manager to determine if he wants to stay, to what degree his commitment is, and then to work with him to set specific and attainable goals for the community.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is Southbridge’s greatest asset?

Jack Jovan: We have a great community, we have strong town departments as well as resources such as our hospital, library and businesses that all want to improve the quality of life that we enjoy in Southbridge.  It is the people of Southbridge that make it a great place to live.

The Citizen Chronicle: What is Southbridge’s greatest problem?

Jack Jovan: I believe that the greatest problem that we have is a lack of vision. We need to work as a community together to determine what we want to be. We have a lot of assets in town that we need to better utilize and then market those strengths to build a strong and vibrant town.

 

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:

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