John Daniel

Candidate for three-year term on the Southbridge Town Council

John Daniel, aged 60, spent 30 years as an educator and an assistant principal. The self-described moderate Democrat has never run for public office before, but is currently serving as a citizen member of the Town Council’s Education and Human Services Subcommittee.

Daniel looks to take the skills and attributes that made him a successful educator and school administrator, and use them to serve his town as a member of the Town Council. He believes an effective Town Councilor must do their homework, listen to various viewpoints, and think of the town and its residents rather than one’s own ego.

Daniel said the status of the town’s infrastructure is “an issue that is sneaking up on us,” stressing that this means more than just the roadways that are often cited as problems. He noted that his infrastructure concerns are not just potholes on the roads, but also the “vast network of water and sewer substructure” lying beneath the streets. Additionally, main areas of concern for Daniel include the schools, the future of the fire station, and supporting the development of new businesses.

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

John Daniel: I have a great deal of experience listening to the public and discerning what their perceptions and needs are. It’s not enough to just listen, you must come to understand what the person in front of you is saying and address their concerns in a manner that is respectful and dignified. I am a member of the Joint Education and Human Services sub-committee. I have been an educator and Assistant Principal for almost 30 years. In that time I was exposed to the educational budgeting process. This includes making decisions about priorities within the budget, justifying requested expenditures and working with the Town side to pass a budget that is a working compromise for everyone.

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

John Daniel: A person who is an active listener and is willing to put ego aside in order to find common ground on issues in the interest of doing what’s best for the Town.  A person who does their due diligence before making decisions.

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

John Daniel: When my Grandfather was Assistant Chief in the 60’s, he said then that “you can’t put a square peg in a round hole,” in regards to getting modern equipment through the doors and into the building. It is a wonderful building but time is passing by. Purchasing equipment to take care of the needs of the town is hindered by having to consider structural limitations. Further, the safety needs of our firefighters/medical responders need to be assured too. Unless I come to find out something unforeseen, I will support the construction of a new station. I will also support the organization of a committee of watchdogs to oversee the construction to assure the town that the building is functional and that we get good value for our tax dollars.

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

John Daniel: How can a dedicated Teacher or Educational Assistant be expected to teach our children if the leadership at Central Office is changing and bringing in new mandates on what seems like a whim? We need to work with the state to ask for committed people who can understand what the curriculum and social needs are, create programmatic answers, then stick around long enough to truly implement them. We also need the central office to look for value in their spending. In my conversations with citizens, no one is against the schools, but there is a strong feeling that there is an unfocused direction in regards to spending.

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

John Daniel: I believe we need to closely monitor Casella to assure the town that Casella fulfills their contractual obligations. This includes the landfill’s proper closing and the continued delivery of trash pick-up services.

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

John Daniel: I believe projects designed to beautify Southbridge are valuable and should be supported. I would have voted to support the Riverside proposal.

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

John Daniel: I believe people like Southbridge and believe it has much to offer. Some people get trapped into responding only to the bad news. If you take the time to look you will find wonderful civic organizations and societies that value our Town and contribute to its vibrancy. The leadership has lost its way but I believe it can make changes and return to the business of taking care of Southbridge.

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

John Daniel: I do not know of Mr. San Angelo’s inner working talents as I am not currently on the Council. From the outside looking in, he seems to be dedicated to the Town and a hard worker. I do not expect him to please everybody all the time as he is in a decision-making position and that does not lend itself to 100 percent acceptance. Again, as an outsider looking in, I believe he is good for Southbridge.

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

John Daniel: Our people! I can’t say that loud enough. We may not always agree, but our citizens are concerned and care about Southbridge. We have a wonderfully diverse people living here who have a wide range of skills and talents. They are willing to contribute if only they are asked and are treated with dignity and respect.

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

John Daniel: Southbridge is a well-established town.  Our forefathers did well in providing us with buildings and infrastructure to make life both functional and pleasant while living here. As time moves on and society changes, our needs change as well. Taking care of these newer (modern) needs as they occur while updating and preserving the infrastructure already in place is problematic. There are only so many tax dollars to go around, so the problem is in prioritizing our spending. This is a headache that is not going to go away.

 

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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