I endorse and ask you to please consider voting for Chris Hillman for selectman on April 28.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have a personal relationship with Chris and I do consider him a friend. Regardless, I believe his accomplishments the past two years warrant him being elected and allowed to serve a full term on a board of three members. His initial three-year-term on the five-person board was cut short by the town's decision to move to a three-person board.
The simple reason to elect Chris is that no one who has served on the board in recent memory has accomplished more in such a short time. His focus on economic development, town beautification and efficiency in town government have already paid dividends and will pay more if he has allowed to continue to serve.
Any candidate could have thought of the things Chris did and brought those ideas forward, but they didn't. In fact, in the past several months, most members seemed more interested in attacking Pauline Conley than doing the town's business.
For example, the rotary was overgrown and in dire need of maintenance for years, but no one did anything about it. Upon his election Chris engaged Sen. Jamie Eldridge and came up with a plan to leverage state resources to clean up the gateway to the town. It is now a source of community pride as opposed to an embarrassing eyesore.
No other candidate ever thought to light up the rotary at the holidays to show Ayer in such a beautiful, positive light. But Chris did, soliciting donations, spending his own money, and then performing the work of stringing up the lights on freezing winter nights with less than a handful of other volunteers.
Many towns have "adopt an island" programs that provide maintenance and beautification of public areas in exchange for advertising on town land. Any other candidate could have come up with the idea to engage Ayer businesses to clean up the islands. But no one did. Just Chris.
It is always a good idea to look at existing ways of doing business to see if there is a more cost effective alternative. Any candidate could have engaged the DPW director and the Commonwealth to look for grant funds to study curbside trash and recycling. They didn't do it though. Chris did. And to the naysayers, it is just a study to see if it makes economic sense. Voters will have their say when the study is complete.
People have complained about specific properties in town for years, including signed petitions from certain neighborhoods most affected by the offenders. No one picked up the cause and saw it through to actual court action. Chris spearheaded the board's recent actions ... finally.
No one ever thought we needed a full-time building inspector when we obviously did. We have had unprecedented residential building in several areas of town, most notably Pingry Hill, while also needing attention on the commercial sections and the offending properties referenced earlier. That is finally being proposed at town meeting this spring because Chris saw the need and championed the issue
Our prisons and house of corrections have always offered inmate services for free to do labor in a community. No one took them up on their offers before in Ayer, but Chris did, bringing free labor to the town that cleaned up the community and saved taxpayer dollars.
When Chris ran the first time and the high school project vote was forthcoming, no other candidate asked to tour the existing building so they could make an informed decision before supporting the project (or not). He did.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
I know there are some detractors of Chris who will point to a couple of outbursts where Chris may have lost his cool. However, those came from a passion of wanting to get things done and improve our community. If you have paid attention recently, it is not Chris who has lost his temper and has had outbursts. It has been other board members. He has learned to be more composed while not losing his passion to help make Ayer as great a place as it can be, a community we can all be proud of with quality services at reasonable costs.