Eric HelmuthHelmuthJohn HurdHurdJeff ThielmanThielmanJane MorganMorgan

UPDATED at 4:30 p.m. April 10: Facing no opposition, all incumbents were reelected Saturday, April 6, 2024. According to unofficial results published late Saturday, April 6, 2024, Assessor Gordon A. Jamieson Jr. got 3,723 votes, or 99.28 percent; Gaar Talanian won a second elected term on the Arlington Housing Authority with 3,610 votes, or 99.45 percent; and Arlington Select Board members Eric D. Helmuth and John V. Hurd retained their seats, as did Arlington School Committee members Jane Pierce Morgan and Jeffrey D. Thielman. The unofficial results posted on the Town of Arlington website also include those for Town Meeting members.

Thielman said this via email on Wednesday. "I'm excited to return to the School Committee to work with a very collaborative and hardworking committee. In the next three years, I want to focus on finishing the high school building project, make sure the strategic plan we adopted is fully funded and implemented, and be a voice for students and families who may not feel represented in our district. Also, I look forward to returning to my role as chair of the district's Facilities Subcommittee, which is always looking at needs in our teaching and learning spaces."

"I'm looking forward to returning to the School Committee to work with my colleagues and the professional staff to implement the goals of the strategic plan," said Morgan -- who has four children attending Arlington Public Schools -- on Monday. "There is a lot of work to be done to improve how all of Arlington's students experience school, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experience and ideas as well as support our outstanding educators and partner with families."

Helmuth said Monday: "I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Arlington for a second term on the Select Board. Over the next three years, I look forward to partnering with our terrific new town manager and his team as they work hard to provide quality services to residents within the constraints of the board’s fiscal promises to taxpayers. I specifically plan to be involved in furthering the town’s commitment to sustainable transportation and safer streets; carbon reduction and climate resilience; diversity and inclusion; and smart growth for new business and housing development."

The March 27 candidate forum was the only time in this election cycle for town residents to hear from candidates in one place and at one time, as they observed that work still needs to be done to make Arlington the community it strives to be. In his closing statement at the forum, Thielman thanked the co-sponsors for keeping democracy alive in town. His colleague, Morgan, noted that it “is important to do these things, even in uncontested races.”

The event, which lasted less than two hours, was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Arlington, whose splash page bears the slogan “Get involved! The world is run by those who show up,” and Envision Arlington, whose stated purpose is “to foster an engaged, culturally diverse and civically active community.”

In the past, the league published a voters' guide with profiles of key candidates as well as questions on relevant topics plus their responses; however, that ended some years ago. 

Two for the School Committee
ACMi candidate profile: Jane Morgan:
ACMi candidate profile: Jeff Thielman:

Morgan, a former teacher and now an associate dean at Southern New Hampshire University, said that she would continue to “bring valuable perspective” to the committee and said she believes that she demonstrates a “spirit of inquiry that is not always fully appreciated.”

Thielman, CEO of International Institute of New England, a Boston-based organization that assists immigrants from Haiti and other New World nations and a committee member since 2003, said it was an honor to be running for election and that the committee is very collaborative. He said he wants to see the five-year strategic plan, which goes through 2028, fully funded and implemented, including improving communications and partnerships and ensuring that staff pay stays at a competitive rate -- and also to oversee the final stages of the rebuilding of Arlington High School. He is longtime chair of the committee involved.

Morgan noted that major improvements have already been made for paraprofessional pay and said she strongly believes that “Arlington is a town that keeps its promises.” Asked by a moderator about the use of any leftover money should the rebuilding project end up under budget, she said that Thielman’s committee would decide the best course of action: “I have no doubt that they have a plan.”

About whether passing the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System standardized test in 10th grade ought to remain a requirement for graduation, neither gave a definite answer. Thielman, calling it a near-negligible issue locally, said that any such proposal would merit “a thoughtful conversation” and added, “I’m not sure where I’m going to land” if the issue resurfaces. Morgan answered similarly, saying that “Our students generally do well on the MCAS” and that, “As a voter, I’m undecided.”

On whether the town/district currently do enough to protect those of diverse identities, Thielman said that APS has invested significantly in robust DEIBJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging and Justice) policies and staff and that the committee has an “active and reflective” policy and procedures subcommittee. Morgan said that “good systems are in place” but that “There is always work to do.”

Both offered restrained endorsement of the concept of 16- and 17-year-old Arlingtonians being able to vote on municipal matters, as proposed in Article 22 in the warrant headed for Town Meeting starting April 24. “Anything that gets young people involved in civic life is a good thing,” Thielman said. “I don’t know that I would stand in their way,” said Morgan.

They also were asked to weigh in on other questions such as whether special education is adequate, how to enhance the teaching of climate science and the advisability of implementing a required for-credit course in financial literacy.

Select Board: Also two incumbents
ACMi candidate profile: Eric Helmuth:

 

Helmuth and Hurd were also on the April 6 ballot unopposed.

Hurd noted that he has been a resident nearly 40 years, that Arlington has recently had two successful property-tax override votes and that it has been “a privilege and an honor to serve the past six years” on the board and to continue work on racial inequities, the regional housing shortage and climate change. He said he has a passion for the town and that there are more issues he wants to work on. Helmuth was more succinct, saying that he also “would be privileged to serve again” and that “Arlington faces many challenges, but I believe in us.”

One of those challenges likely relates to recent reductions in service and other deterioration to the quality of public transportation; a resolution about this is the 66th and final article on the warrant for Town Meeting. Helmuth, without being specific, said that residents could look forward to more housing “where transit is” and that safe, reliable transportation is a priority. Hurd said that the board continues to work with the state legislative delegation, called the town “a very MBTA-friendly community” and said that “more work needs to be done.”

In discussion of 40B, the longstanding state-law vehicle by which construction of affordable housing can be facilitated by streamlining the approval process, both referred briefly to the Select Board’s continued opposition to the proposed Thorndike Place in far East Arlington.

Hurd said that there are many worthy 40B projects outside of the Mugar wetlands (near where Thorndike would be situated). Helmuth said that the Mugar property was “not appropriate” for more housing but brought up the concept of the town having an affordable-housing overlay.

Both also spoke briefly to the idea of using Community Preservation Act funding -- a much more recent state law than 40B -- intended for open-space preservation, preservation of historic resources, development of affordable housing, and the acquisition and development of outdoor recreational facilities. Via the CPA, funds are raised locally for these purposes through imposition of a voter-authorized surcharge on local property tax bills of up to 3 percent.

Asked about the town’s tree canopies, Helmuth said the town has a robust policy involving hearings; Hurd said that the town is able to rely on the very able tree committee and tree warden.

About overrides in general, Hurd said that they “seem to be part of the landscape of our financial picture” and that town government continues to spend responsibly. Helmuth said that “cutting service is not desirable.” Maintaining services was a key rationale for the successful override vote in November 2023; at that time, the voters made the decision to approve the override set to go into effect July 1

Assessor candidate

Also part of the forum was Jamieson, chair of the Board of Assessors, who spoke briefly during the forum about how property taxes are “based upon a fair an accurate assessment of value,” properties are “to be reinspected on an ongoing basis” and that avenues exist for requests for deferrals and for exemptions.

Here is a list of certified candidates for the April 6 election, including those for key townwide offices and Town Meeting >> 

Watch candidates' night on ACMi:

View additional important information about elections as a whole here >> 


This news summary by YourArlington Editor Judith Pfeffer was published Thursday, April 4, 2024, and updated April 7, 2024, with unofficial election results. It was updated Monday, April 8, to include post-election comments from returning Arlington School Committee member Jane Pierce Morgan and returning Select Board member Eric Helmuth. It was updated the afternoon of Wednesday, April 10, to add a quote from returning School Cmmittee member Jeff Thielman. An additional note: Sean Keane of ACMi has told YourArlington that Hurd did not respond to a request for a videotaped profile.