Upton Daily had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Upton Selectman Ken Picard who is hoping to earn your vote to serve another term.
Ken moved to Upton as a boy with his family in 1969 and never left. He enjoys the rural setting and the people who make up the community. He and his wife Elaine are now empty nesters. His children either live or attend school in the region. He is also a grandfather which he simply describes as joy.
Ken was raised on the importance of serving his community. At the age of 18 he, along with three of his friends, started the adult and youth soccer program in town. “We paid dues into the adult team we started and we used those dues to fund three youth teams,” Ken said.
“My father said if you want to make a difference and live in a better community you need to participate. So I did,” he said.
Twenty years ago Ken decided to participate in local government and joined the Planning Board. “After my father passed the importance of what he said resonated with me.”
Ken decided to run for Board of Selectmen nine years ago. “The Board at that time was struggling with leadership and personalities that couldn’t get along. They weren’t getting any results and I thought I could make a difference.” He asked the town to support his candidacy and they did. He ran on the importance of consistency and always trying to improve. “You have to be able to achieve results.”
Ken is a strong supporter of last year’s override but he also understands the need to make changes in the community to help reduce the burden on taxpayers.
“The town needs to consider changing zoning bylaws and districts to encourage business development,” he said. “The Town also needs to expand water and sewer to the business zoned districts. Lots without water and sewer aren’t very attractive to businesses.” Ken said those decisions lay with the voters and that is why the board has been working to educate and reach out to the community through their monthly newsletter.
Ken said he continues to work with the Board and Town Manager to keep costs down through the regionalization of services. “With the help of the Town Manager we have been able to reduce costs without reducing services,” he said. “The Town Manager and departments reporting to the Board have become very successful in getting grants awarded to the Town which reduce cost to the tax payers and improve services.”
“We want to continue to build and provide outstanding services at little or no additional cost for our citizens.” he said.
It’s important to Ken to be accessible to the community but it’s not as simple as it used to be years ago. “In the old days a selectman might visit you in your home but that isn’t appropriate anymore,” he said. “The Board as a whole has authority, not one member. Anyone who has a concern, question, or suggestion can always reach out to me,” he said. “I do take calls and reply to emails but I will most likely advise them to come to a meeting. As an invited guest they can talk about whatever they want and be heard by the entire Board.”
Ken was proud to list some of the many initiatives he has been involved with implementing over the years which include; adding a 3rd Municipal Water Well, Rehabbing the 2nd Municipal Water Well Field, Replacing the Main Street Water Main, the Town Hall Renovation Project, Strengthening the Regional School Districts, the Hartford Ave T.I.P Roadway Improvement project which is being funded in party by a 9 million dollar grant, the implementation of the Town website and online billing, and most recently the implementation of the Upton Opioid Task Force.
“My job is to help,” Ken said. “If it’s opiates, water sewer issues, road issues, or something else our job is to try and help reduce these burdens.”
We have many concerns about environmental health and public safety, ones the people have voiced over the years, in regards to chemicals in our town, in the rail yard, noise and air pollution from the RR. So often in the last decade, so many citizens were being ignored when concerns were brought forth, being labelled as trouble makers, or NIMBYers, and worse when being assaulted by noise and air pollution. The Selectmen did nothing to try to use their power to protect the citizens, and were extremely insensitive to their needs of the people’s safety. We want safe businesses in our town. So many other towns like Hopkinton have a thriving small business market, those business are safe businesses that enrich the community rather than put our town and water at risk. Whoever wins the nomination. I pray that you really hear the people, and put people’s needs and our environmental health first. There is a way that all these things work together. And it is the way of the future. Public safety, environmental health, clean good jobs, and a thriving local economy lends to lower taxes, a strong community, and an abundantly thriving school system. Thank you for hearing us. Let’s all work together for a more Sustanable Upton moving forward.