Troy's Take: Remembering The 1993 Dream Team
By: TROY CLARKSON, March 10, 2014
Tony Camerio wanted some order and substance to dog hearings in Falmouth. There’s nothing wrong with that. He felt wronged at the hands of the selectmen and decided to run to make a difference. There’s a lot right with that. Rather than complain from the sidelines, he chose to be part of the solution and put himself in the public spotlight. Tony’s race for the town’s top elected office was a crowded one. That year, there were seven candidates, including two incumbents, running for the board of selectmen.
Tony, despite his sometimes outrageous and inflammatory statements (are you listening, Bertha Manson?), garnered a fair amount of support from his Maravista base and made a respectable showing on Election Day. That race, however, was in the early post-charter years, and the voters chose two change agents coming from far different worlds to join the experienced trio of Eddie Marks, Virginia Valiela, and Nate Ellis on the board of selectmen. One of them, a nurse administrator and successful local businesswoman, brought decades of administrative experience and a stint on the personnel board. The other, a political newcomer, was a 24-year-old federal employee writing press releases out at Otis for Ernie Keating and Don Quenneville and simply offered youthful enthusiasm as his major qualification to run a government. The voters agreed on both counts, and Pat Flynn and I joined the board.
The other candidates presented a group of colorful tiles in the local mosaic. In addition to Tony Camerio, whose crusade for more transparent dog hearings made for some interesting and entertaining debates, the slate of candidates included incumbents Ray Labossiere and John Elliot. Ray was winding down an honorable career as a colorful leader in Falmouth and left his mark as a no-nonsense and dedicated public servant. John, who made the successful leap from the then-elected board of public works to the chief executive board of the town, is still involved today, more than 20 years later, working as a tireless volunteer in the areas of solid waste and public health.
Also on the ballot that day were Jude Wilber, whose bright yellow van was emblazoned with his name. Jude also continued (and continues) his dedication to public service, having served for many years on the planning board; he is still a fixture (and sometimes candidate for the Badge of Bombast) at Town Meeting. Rounding out the names in that May of 1993 was Bob Suitor, who was then the owner of the old AT&T building on Main Street, which today houses Eight Cousins. Bob ran on a platform of improving Main Street and encouraging economic development (he was a bit of a soothsayer, I suppose). He would later volunteer time as a contributor to the Main Street Revitalization Committee.
This bunch of assorted personalities might as well have been characters in a Hollywood sitcom or a cast on “Survivor”; you couldn’t find a more diverse group of people to run for public office. The one constant, though, was a love of community and a commitment to make it better. In some way, all of them left their mark on the civic success of our community.
Today, more than two decades have passed, but that cast of characters’ impact on our community is still very much felt, through simple civic commitment and love of community. That 1993 All-Star Team made its mark on Falmouth. Today, an equally diverse and interesting group promises to make the 2014 election season another year to remember. So far, six candidates, including one colorful incumbent, have noted their interest in competing for a seat in the corner conference room, offering backgrounds, interests, and platforms as interesting and diverse as the Dream Team of ’93.
Incumbent Kevin Murphy has asked for another shot at the title, while five challengers vie for the seat to be left vacant by departing selectman Brent Putnam.
From a Camerio-esque complaint lobbed by candidate Bertha Manson, who noted that the selectmen are spending like “drunken sailors,” to the thoughtful and respected veteran of the school committee Sam Patterson, this crop of contenders will make for some lively and engaging debates and public discussions.
And that’s what it’s all about. Our town is already a better place for the simple presence of an engaged and sincere debate about our collective futures. The candidates have already made a difference. All six, and any others who join them, deserve our respect and gratitude for loving this community enough to step forward. Like the 1993 Dream Team before them, the 2014 team is ready to compete. Good for them for even giving it a shot.
(Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.)