AYER -- "It's not what I want, it's what you want."
That's the mantra of Ayer selectman Pauline Conley, running for a third term this year on a recently reduced three-member board.
"I see my role as a selectman as representing the people of the town as opposed to imposing on the people of the town of Ayer my will," she said, sporting a maroon sweatshirt with "Ayer" across the top. "My goals will be to simply do that."
Conley said the current board has accomplished good things, and cites her particular work on the sex offender residency bylaw passed in 2011, which she helped research and compose.
Conley also highlighted her work with Selectman Christopher Hillman on new nuisance, litter and property enforcement bylaws.
In the future, Conley said the town should continue such property enforcement -- and stay on top of the two lawsuits associated with it.
"There are rules for everybody to live by, and the rules need to be applied equally and fairly to everybody and I believe that's what we have done," she said. "There are other properties that we have heard complaints about, but we have no evidence of any violation, therefore, we can't just go on that property and dictate our will."
This year's selectmen will be taking over during a new frontier, as the town's first medical marijuana dispensary comes to fruition.
Conley said she does not agree with the dispensary's location at 31 Central Avenue, an area of "heavy family traffic with proximity to one of the most popular restaurants in town."
It will take time to know whether the dispensary will work, she said, and work well.
"It's going to require a lot of effort on the part of the owner to ensure the safety of the people of the town of Ayer," she said. "I wish him well."
On Devens, Conley said, "The towns are prepared and able to take it back. There has been a great effort on behalf of the town of Ayer to protect our right to have that back."
But Conley said she has not been to a Joint Boards of Selectmen meeting in a while because it seems like a constant effort to change the reuse plan, adopted in 1994 to facilitate the redevelopment of the old fort.
"I'm not saying changing the reuse plan shouldn't be done, but it shouldn't be done by JBOS," she said. "It needs to be a fully-researched effort involving all the people it's going to affect."
In the meantime, Conley said the town should just "leave well enough alone."
"MassDevelopment is doing a pretty good job developing it within the context of the reuse plan, and that's what they're there to do," she said. "They should be allowed to continue unless we're just going to take it all back."
Conley has a swift proposal to resolve the issue between Assistant Treasurer Melissa Doig and Treasurer Stephanie Gintner, which resulted in Doig's transfer to the supervision of the town administrator.
If it were up to her, Conley said she would speak to both of them and tell them to work it out.
"I've had bosses in my life I didn't want to work for either and I haven't been able to go to someone else and say, 'I don't want to work for this person anymore,'" she said. "And in the private sector you wouldn't have that much opportunity to diss your boss and be able to change to a different boss simply because you didn't want to work for that boss."
Conley suffered a setback last fall, when the board voted to remove her as the chair.
She said she was accused of stealing an executive session document from the selectmen's office that she took home unknowingly.
The meeting ended with a heated exchange of words between Hillman and former Selectman James Fay, with Gary Luca elected as the new chair.
"Every time I tried to explain, nobody would let me talk," Conley said.
She said she does not think the firestorm that followed the accusation was unintended.
"There had been suggestions of removing me as chairman before," she said. "When I tried to make the agenda more user-friendly, they didn't like that."
But she works for the people and not the Board of Selectmen, Conley explained, and if the people want her to sit then they will put her back on the board.
"If the people want to know what's going on in this town, among this board, they will put me back here," she said.
Conley said she is well known for telling the people what is really going on.
"I have every agenda, set of minutes, every document from every board and committee I have ever served on for historical reference," she said.
Conley noted the time when she noticed that personnel policy changes from 2003 and 2004 -- during which time she served on the personnel board -- were not incorporated into the personnel manual after being adopted.
One of the changes dealt with reclassification, a topic that later became relevant when Doig applied for a reclassification of her job in 2012. That year, selectmen decided to nullify the 2003 reclassification policy, which would have required an "appointing authority" to approve or deny a reclassification request, Nashoba Publishing reported at the time.
Conley maintains that selectmen also handled the Doig-Gintner issue with another personnel policy that was not adopted properly. The actual relevant policy would have referred the issue to a five-member personnel board of appeals instead of a personnel board, she said.
"My point is, the decisions were made -- by all parties involved -- with a policy that was not adopted properly," she said. "And if you don't adopt a rule or a law or a policy correctly, it's not valid."
Conley has a strong community past, serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Finance Committee, the Fourth of July Committee and more.
She also has a strong belief in keeping the public informed.
"The people have a right to know where their money goes, what their elected officials are doing, and they have a right to be heard whenever they have an issue -- period, end of discussion as far as I'm concerned," she said. "I just really, really believe that.
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