Bridgewater Says No; Interview with Joseph Gillis Jr.

Bridgewater voted No this past Saturday. Bridgewater committee member Joseph Gillis was kind enough to respond to a request for an interview.

Boston Metblogs: You wrote on your website:

There has been some dialog in the community about the ballot question, but for the most part it has been “quiet”. I have seen few letters in Enterprise or Independent (two local newspapers), some lawn signs out (most saying NO), and low attendance at public forums (not overflow crowds for a ‘pocketbook’ issue).

Why do you think it was “quiet?” Where do you think the other 75% of voters fall on the issue?* How would you like to see the community engaged for future votes?

(*A quarter of registered voters participated in the override vote.)

Joseph Gillis: It was quiet because many did not believe it a major enough issue to devote more than cursory time to it. There were and always will be people more deeply engaged in the topic, however the proponents never effectively framed the issue in a manner to engage the community.

BM: The Globe quotes Mildred Hasson as saying, “As far as I’m concerned, ‘a fiscally responsible override’ is an oxymoron.”

The Tauton Gazette quotes Keith Buhol as saying,

“This override addresses a lot of the ‘no’ issues from last year. To vote ‘no’ just because it is an override, and not based on any facts, is not fiscally responsible.”

Were there new objections? Do they … have a thing against schools?

JG: Mildred Hasson is engaged in the community, and willing to bring her issues forward. For that, she should be commended. People may disagree with her, but she is following the democractic process. Keith Buohl is also engaged in the community.

Not any “new” objections; more old objections – prove the case that the money is needed and will be spent

While there will always be individuals who will frame the question on one particular group (like schools), it did not appear that the schools played any major part in the discussions.

BM: When you lose 26 teacher aides and two proctors, what happens? What changes in the classroom? What’s the change we’re looking at in class sizes? (What would they have been, had the money gone through?)

JG: This is all still ‘in discussion’. The School Committee will meet on Wednesday to review what has transpired, and vote on next steps.

BM: Anything else you’d like to talk about?

JG: Perhaps an intriguing question for voters, but “what is the breaking/tipping point?” Randolph had to sink pretty low prior to an over-ride passing there; what do the residents of Bridgewater believe is the tipping point on the matter? It is clear that through four over-rides, 3500-4000 have voted “NO”. The first and most rent both had 2000 “YES’ votes; obviously by nearly 2 to 1, the proponents did not make their case and convince voters to go and vote “YES”. So, is there a particular event or threshold for individuals?

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