As the 2020 Town Election date nears, (June 27th or you can vote absentee now!), the Anchor would like to help you get to know each of the candidates seeking positions on two important board races -- selectman and school committee.
Allow us to introduce you to our second candidate for Hingham's Board of Selectmen, Dr. Kirk Shilts. Dr. Shilts is a small business owner, operating a chiropractic practice for nearly 40-years.
Hingham, meet Kirk.
How would your prior or current town board/committee experience benefit your role as selectmen?
I’m fortunate to be an elected member of a 3-member public-education/regulatory board (Board of Health) and a 3-member public utility board (Sewer Commission). Aside from the experience in how 3-member boards function, I’ve gained extensive practical experience in policy-making, regulation/enforcement, department budgeting, capital planning, and customer service across these two diverse platforms. My near 20-year tenure on the Water Supply Committee makes me exceptionally knowledgeable to our upcoming responsibility as owner/operator of a regional water supply utility. My chairmanship on the dozen-member Comprehensive Master Wastewater Planning Committee gave me insight to the challenges and planning options for the Derby St./Pond Park area, which I shared with the South Hingham Study Group and written into its detailed report.
What would be your top priorities or goals if you are elected?
My top priority would be to work within the existing board, always come prepared, offer my suggestions, do what is asked of me, and keep the interests of the community paramount. It’s important to remember that after the discussions are over and its members voted, a board sets the actual priorities that matter.
My two (2) goals, aspirations actually, are to see the harbor area become a signature destination of the town and to promote sensible development along the Derby St. corridor.
It’s tragic that we have one of the most attractive natural harbors in New England and it’s largely circumscribed by an uninviting and dangerous four-lane highway. I’ve mentioned route 1A through Swampscott as a comparative vision to consider.
Development along the Derby St. corridor is a key to our town’s long-term financial health. This area is ideal for mixed use development and corporate activity. Sensible development would strengthen our tax base, avail employment opportunities and best control inevitable growth.
How do you think COVID-19 might affect the board’s priorities and actions moving forward?
FY-21 (July20-June21) and to some extent FY-22 will likely be the most challenging fiscal concern the town has faced in my lifetime. I believe revenue will be more dismal than projected. The crisis is reframing how our region’s work-force is employed and situated. Our planning efforts need to reflect these future semi-unknowns. The good news is there will very likely be an end to this societal imprisonment sometime next year with a well-deserved return to optimism. The temporary reprieve from traffic congestion that was simply awful prior to the pandemic will come back quick and needs to be fixed.
I believe the town’s prime priority should be to keep Hingham the quaint suburban enclave we’ve enjoyed for decades.
What part of being a selectman would you enjoy the most?
The broad, diverse variety of topics addressed.
Has running for selectmen long been one of your goals?
What qualities would you bring to the selectman position?
What I’m known for, organization and detail.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the town?
Crossing an irreversible line of overdevelopment. Following through on the intrinsic commitment we have to our seniors and children (schools) to the robust degree that these populations deserve. Housing affordability is a never-ending challenge, all the more difficult as the realities of a post-COVID workforce become apparent.
What do you like best about living in Hingham?
The mix of our ocean-fronts and estuaries, open fields (new) and broad woodland areas. The rooted appreciation to history and rituals. The availability of convenient commuting options. And most of all the proximity of family and life-long friends.
What is your favorite spot in Hingham?
Since I live in South Hingham, I’ll mention the George Washington Town Forest and abutting Weir River Water System property. It offers solitude, varied terrain and features, innumerous trails, and is exceptional for birding.
If you could give one piece of advice to the class of 2020, what would it be?
Happiness is not something you derive from a loving relationship; it’s something you bring to the relationship so as to enjoy.