The Carnation’s candidate Q&A series continues with Dustin Weir, who is running unopposed for the Town Moderator position. See other profiles as well as letters from and about candidates here.
All candidates running in Tewksbury were invited to respond, and we appreciate those who took the time to help the Carnation inform voters.
Name: Dustin Weir Seat sought: Town Moderator
1. Why do you want to serve as Moderator?
I’m a firm believer that individual citizens need to participate in government to make it effective. In Tewksbury, we have a unique opportunity to participate directly in town meetings where our voices are not filtered or collated by having to choose an individual representative. I see this opportunity as a true privilege. That’s why I became an election worker, a volunteer for the Mass Medical Reserve Corps, a General Bylaw Committee member, and it’s why I’m running for Moderator.
2. Give us a brief bio: Where you grew up, family, interests. (Feel free to include a link to your website or Facebook page)
My family is originally from the Dakotas, and I grew up in a small community south of Buffalo, NY. I moved to Boston for college where I met my wife. We lived in various towns on the north shore until finding home in 2016 in Tewksbury.
Our youngest child is about to enter Kindergarten next year, and our oldest attends North Street. They both play hockey with TYSA, and I volunteer as a coach for my youngest. Any hockey parent will tell you there isn’t much spare time left, but I try to squeeze in some time here or there volunteering, making stained glass windows in my basement shop (my “pandemic hobby”), reading, or playing video games.
3. What is your education?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern and a Master’s Degree in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell.
4. What is your “day job,” and how do your past or current professional experiences prepare you for service as our Moderator?
I manage an R&D group of about 12 people at a plastics compounding company in Leominster. I’ve been managing groups of engineers for over 10 years now, and I think two skills will directly translate to the role of Moderator. First, managing people well requires a lot of listening and understanding to find compromises where there are conflicts. Second, I have to interpret highly technical standards to ensure we’re following the correct procedures in our labs.
5. What works well with Tewksbury Town Meeting? In what areas, if any, do you see room for improvement?
I love the format, specifically the fact that every voter has an opportunity to debate and vote directly on town legislation. I believe it’s a real privilege as well as a responsibility, and in the six years I’ve lived in Tewksbury I’ve only been unable to attend one meeting.
This may be somewhat technical, but I don’t understand motions for indefinite postponement in this format. I understand how they work, and that they are included in the rules for the meeting. When participants are not elected and when the threshold for adopting any item is at or above the threshold for indefinite postponement, I just don’t understand the reasoning behind making such a motion. It only confuses and prolongs the proceedings by inverting the yeas vs. nays and adding a second layer of debate. I believe debates should not be overcomplicated in such a way. If there is a proposal it should be debated. If there is a vote, it should be voted on. That’s it.
6. Describe an activity, group, or committee you’ve been involved with in town and what you accomplished as part of that team.
I enjoyed our discussions in the town bylaw committee. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough participation to build any final recommendations but I hope that the work will continue soon.
Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a large single achievement to make an impact in the town. It just takes a little effort to make a difference. Handing out food at the food bank, donating blood, helping with vaccine drives, and teaching young kids to ice skate all make an impact on someone’s life, and I enjoy all of it.
7. One complaint about Town Meeting is low attendance as a percentage of voters. Some towns hold their TMs on Saturday, others prohibit the use of town facilities and fields on the nights of Town Meeting. Do you have ideas on increasing attendance for Tewksbury?
Anything that helps make people available and reminds them of the meeting would be worth trying. Holding meetings outside of school or work nights could help. Advertising reminders early on billboards, newspapers, and social media sites should help as well. In my situation, assistance with childcare arrangements would help both my wife and I attend.
8. What would you say to residents to encourage them to vote for you?
I think I have the right temperament for Moderator. I can be a pretty serious guy, but people who’ve met me tend to forget how big I am because I don’t like to suck up all of the attention in the room. I’m 6’6”, 300 lbs, by the way.
I think I have a pretty good ability to navigate technical procedures as well. The Moderator must be able to meet the letter of the law to run a fair meeting. I’ve spent some time reading the letter of the law on the General Bylaw Committee, and it’s similar to much of what I have to do for work. It’s not entertaining in the slightest, but I do find some enjoyment in working out how the procedures and regulations interconnect.
Lastly, they should know I’m fully dedicated to the neutrality of the role. I believe everyone should have an equal voice in a democracy. I intend on promoting and enforcing that right.