May 13, 2021 by Laura Winters
Mary Power has lived in Hingham for the past 20 years and has been a dedicated public servant and town volunteer for the majority of her time in town. In addition to her service on the Select Board, Power has also served on the Hingham Advisory Committee, Zoning Permit Study Committee, Bare Cove Park Committee, Friends of Hingham Public Schools, several PTO's and volunteered for the Hingham Food Pantry. Mary and her husband Dan have raised their two sons in Hingham and you'll often see them walking their beloved Australian Labradoodles, Riley and Parker, around town.
Tomorrow night is Power's final meeting as a member of the Select Board. In honor of her service to the town, we invite you to learn a little bit more about her life, favorite spots in Hingham and advice to future Select Board members.
Hingham, meet Mary Power.
How long have you been a Select Board member?
6 years; I was first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2018.
What inspired you to run for Select Board?
I never aspired to run for office – in fact, quite the opposite. Having volunteered for the Town in different appointed capacities, I wanted to continue contributing. I felt my ability to understand and manage complex issues would be of benefit to the Town as a member of the Select Board, particularly as the Town continued to consider whether or not to purchase the water company.
Can you tell us a little bit about your responsibilities on the Select Board?
The Select Board sets policy goals for the Town, reviews and sets fiscal guidelines for the Town, provides stewardship of Town assets, issues the warrant for Town Meeting, and ensures actions taken by Town Meeting are carried out. We serve as Police Commissioners, as Water Commissioners and as the licensing authority for the Town, issuing and renewing 20 categories of licenses including entertainment, liquor, and common victualer (food establishment) licenses. We also appoint the majority of the appointed Town boards, commissions, and committees.
How did those responsibilities change as chair of the Select Board?
The chair is a member of the Library Board of Trustees and the Forecast Group, makes board liaison assignments, and works with the Town Administrator to set meeting agendas.
What other roles did you hold as a public servant in Hingham before running for Select Board?
Hingham Advisory Committee (elected Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary), Zoning Permit Study Committee, Bare Cove Park Committee, Friends of Hingham Public Schools. I also served on various PTO Committees and volunteered for the Hingham Food Pantry.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Being able to work with dedicated volunteers and Town employees for the betterment of our Town. Many of my dearest friends in Hingham are people I met through volunteering for the Town.
Do you have a least favorite part of the job?
While Zoom has resulted in more citizen participation in meetings - which is terrific - I have missed the collegiality that comes with in-person meetings. I regret that the current Board (myself, Joe Fisher, and Bill Ramsey) has not been able to meet in person this year.
During your tenure on the Select Board, what accomplishments for the town that you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of 4 things; 1. The purchase and successful transition of the water system to Town ownership; 2. Achieving affordable housing Safe Harbor status, allowing the Town to add to its affordable housing inventory on its own terms until at least 2030; 3. The financial analysis and analytics I’ve brought to the Town including the Inside Town Finances series; and 4. Conducting the Town’s business in a manner that promotes civil discourse.
What was the most difficult issue that you've dealt with on behalf of the town of Hingham?
The purchase and transition of the water system. Over a 9-year period, we assessed the feasibility of Town ownership, engaged in litigation to determine the purchase price, educated the public and countered a well-funded opposition campaign, achieved more than a 2/3 vote from Town Meeting, financed the acquisition, obtained the necessary regulatory approval from the MA Department of Environmental Protection, secured a water system operator, and transitioned operational and billing responsibility without any service disruptions. Each phase of this endeavor was challenging, particularly considering that we were running the Town and advancing other important initiatives at the same time. The pandemic added an additional layer of complexity. I am incredibly proud to have been part of this historic effort and am grateful to the many dedicated citizen volunteers, Town staff, and external partners who worked so hard to make it happen.
Who do you find to be the most inspiring person in Hingham?
As both a member of the Advisory Committee and the Select Board, I have met citizens who contribute to our community in both public and not so public ways. From many volunteers who contribute their time and talents to the Town year after year, to the bell-ringers, to the Senior Center Exercise Class that has forged many friendships, to the citizens who take care of our Veterans, they all inspire me.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I am not sure whether this is a talent, but for the past 20 years, our family has taken an annual 1-2 week sailing vacation. We started when our kids were infants and added two dogs along the way. I’ve become a combination of an expert provisioner, 2nd mate, galley cook, and mechanic’s assistant. At home, I enjoy gardening, and am an avid football fan.
What is your favorite local spot?
Glad Tidings Plain Main Street. It is beautiful any time of day, any time of year, and in any weather. Eleanor Roosevelt was spot-on when she said it was the most beautiful street in America.
What is your favorite restaurant or meal in Hingham?
Tuna Two Ways at the Square Cafe.
If you could give one piece of advice to the new member of the BOS, what would it be?
Base decisions on what is in the Town’s best interest, remembering that you represent 23,000 residents.
If you could give one piece of advice to Hingham newcomers about living in the town, what would it be?
Get involved.Hingham runs on volunteers – there are many different opportunities to get involved and contribute to the community.You will receive more than you give.
Do you have plans to run for any other political office in the future?
I promised myself and my family that I would not make any commitments for the foreseeable future, political or otherwise!
What are you most looking forward to in retirement?
I’m looking forward to having more time to spend with family and friends.
"Serving as a member of the Hingham Select Board has been an honor and a privilege. Thank you to the citizens of Hingham for placing your trust in me. I hope that I have served you well. Many thanks to everyone who supported me over the past six years including past and current colleagues, Town staff, friends, and most importantly, my family." -Mary Power