Onset Fire District Election Tuesday, May 21
The Onset Fire District annual elections will be held on Tuesday, May 21, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Onset VFW, 4 Gibbs Ball Park Rd.
Residents will elect one person to the Prudential Committee, one to the Water Commission, and a moderator.
Incumbent Marcine Fernandes and local activist Lisa Morales are running for a three-year spot on the Prudential Committee.
Fernandes has served two full terms and one partial term on the committee, and has lived in Onset for more than 52 years.
“I’ve always cared about what happens in my community,” Fernandes said.
She spent her career working for Wareham Public Schools, and has served on many boards.
Fernandes holds a nursing degree, bachelor’s degree, and a master’s.
If elected, her priorities would be to see the building of the new fire station through to completion and continue the good cooperation between the Prudential Committee and Water Commission.
Fernandes emphasized the importance of good communication and cooperation on each board and between the boards.
“We agree to disagree, but we always compromise and I think that’s a good thing for the district,” Fernandes said.
Morales is running for both a spot on the Prudential Committee and to be the moderator.
If she were elected to both positions, a moderator would be elected by voice vote at next year’s meeting.
Although she has not yet been elected to a position in the district, Morales is a familiar face at meetings, where she has advocated for greater transparency since moving to the district several years ago.
“It’s been really difficult to get them to share information,” Morales said. “It’s like pulling teeth.”
She has worked to get meeting minutes and agendas posted online, often by filing Freedom of Information Act requests and publishing the documents on her blog, Onset All Together (onsettogether.blogspot.com).
Morales is also concerned about the compensation given to elected officials in the district, who receive a stipend and health insurance for work she describes as “very part-time.”
Morales said that the district pays 90 percent of the official’s insurance costs.
She has not been able to find out exactly how much the district is spending on individual people.
Morales has also alleged that current Water Commissioner Ben Hughes does not actually live in Onset, which would make him ineligible to serve on the commission.
Hughes and Prudential Committee Chair Charles Klueber served her with a no trespass order in March 2018, accusing her of “aggressive verbal and physical conduct” and making “threats against members of the District’s administrative staff.”
Morales, who is currently only allowed in the district’s offices for public meetings, said that she has challenged the order and threatened to sue the district, prompting officials to tell her “Go ahead and do it.”
Morales said that another of her priorities is to find out details about the new fire station building, and noted that revised plans have never been released to the public.
Her relevant experience includes experience on boards Wareham, Dennis, and West Springfield, a masters in Labor Relations, and work experience in labor relations.
Bob Brousseau is also running for moderator. He has moderated the Onset District meetings for the past three or four years.
Brousseau, who was first elected at a meeting after the previous moderator stepped down, said that his motivation in running is to “be a good citizen and do my share of the work.”
Having retired from a 34 year career as a history teacher in Wareham, Brousseau now serves on the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Board.
“The only power that the moderator has, of course, is to see that the meeting is run smoothly,” Brousseau said.
As moderator, he focuses on making sure the issues are addressed fairly and everyone who wants to speak can, within reason. He does not allow personal attacks.
“Many of the people know who I am,” Brousseau said. “They’ve seen me conduct the meetings in fairness to everybody.”
Kenny Fontes is running unopposed for reelection to the Water Commission.