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October 05, 2020 in Local Government and Civic Engagement

CCYP 2020 VOTER GUIDE: COUNTY COMMISSIONER

Know Your Candidates!

As a service to our members and the Cape Cod community at large, CCYP has compiled a series of non-partisan VOTER GUIDES for select local races in the 2020 General Election.

For this guide, we invited candidates running for the two (2) available Barnstable County Commissioner seats to answer a short questionnaire. The candidates' unedited responses are presented below, along with their campaign website and social media handles.

Some candidates did not respond to our questionnaire; their names, information, and campaign websites are provided for reference.

**Voters in this election will vote for TWO of the below candidates, as there are two open seats to be filled.**

NOTE: as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, CCYP is nonpartisan and does not endorse any candidate or political party. We are providing this information solely for the purposes of voter engagement and education.

Need more election details? Want to learn more about what a Barnstable County Commissioner does? See our Voter Resources section below.

Ready to dive in? Scroll down for candidate responses.

Voter Resources

MA Voter Information Search. What's my district? Where do I go to vote? What will my ballot look like? Use this easy search engine and arrive at the polls prepared.

Find Your Early Voting Location! In-person early Voting is available Oct. 17 to 30.

Early Voting by Mail. Oct. 28 is the last day to apply to vote by mail in the General Election. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this option is available for ALL voters and you do not need an excuse to vote by mail this year! Visit the State Secretary's website to learn more or contact your Town Clerk to apply.

State Ballot Questions. A series of Ballot Questions will appear on all ballots statewide. Read a summary on the State's website.

League of Women Voters Personalized Voter Guide. Enter your address into the Vote411 search to see candidates and preview your ballot.

Learn More about Policy and Civic Engagement Opportunities with CCYP. Join the CCYP Public Policy Committee, learn about Town Board/Committee/Commission vacancies, and more.

Who are the Barnstable County Commissioners?

The Barnstable County Commissioners is the executive body of the Barnstable County government and consists of three (3) individuals, each elected for a four-year term. County Commissioners run on a party platform - Democrat, Republican, or Independent. The Commissioners work in tandem with the legislative branch of the County - the Assembly of Delegates - forming a system of checks and balances. This structure of County Government is rather unique in modern-day Massachusetts, and dates back to the formation of the Plymouth Colony in 1685.

Some powers and responsibilities of the County Commissioners include:

  • Preparation of budgets for submittal to the Assembly of Delegates
  • Supervision of money collected and spent by the County
  • Reporting on financial and administrative condition of the County
  • Power to veto ordinances
  • Appointment and removal of County Administrator and all County employees

For more information on the County Commissioners, visit the County website at: https://www.barnstablecounty.o...

11 Forest
Mark Forest

Website: www.electmarkforest.com

Facebook: @markrforest

Twitter: @markrforest

1. CAPE COD’S FUTURE. What are the three (3) most pressing issues facing Cape Cod today, and how would you address them if elected?

1. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on individuals, families, small businesses and local governments. The county needs to do more to help those impacted. It can assess needs, create partnerships, secure resources and secure funding from various sources. The county can do much more. 2. Clean Water - We need to improve the quality of our coastal waters, drinking water supplies and ponds. We need to advocate for more federal and state financial resources, be creative in developing regional approaches and partnerships. Together we can accomplish so much more. Climate change is having a critical impact on water quality and the Cape needs a strategy to reduce its carbon footprint. 3. Strengthening the safety net of support services in the areas of housing, child care, education. As a County Commissioner, I want to see us make so much more progress in each of these areas. I believe that I have the experience, track record and leadership skills to provide solutions in each of these areas.

2. ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. What is the single biggest opportunity for economic and workforce development on Cape Cod, and how would you leverage it if elected?

There are many opportunities. I would create more partnerships with colleges and universities, expand and upgrade infrastructure in a number of areas, such as wastewater, broadband, and transportation.

3. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT. If elected, what specific actions would you take to bring our community’s youth, working age young adults, and young families to the table in regional decision- and policy-making processes? How would you encourage and engage the young people of our community to take on leadership roles with local issues, like economic and workforce development?

I teach government at Cape Cod Community College and train public administrators through Suffolk University. My work is geared toward mentoring our young people to seek a career in public service. The County can do a lot more. I would establish a Citizens Academy, along the lines of those that are in place in many local towns. I would make our meetings more user friendly and I would have the county create more follow-ship and internship opportunities.

4. CHALLENGES FOR YOUNG RESIDENTS. CCYP has consistently found through our independent research that young workers on Cape Cod face a number of significant barriers to successfully live and work in the region. The top three challenges that have been identified are: unaffordable and insufficient housing options;a lack of jobs that pay a living wage for our region (i.e., median income for Cape Cod is lower than the state overall, while cost of living is higher);and a lack of investment in infrastructure and services that support year-round quality of life for young people and families (i.e., child care, reliable internet as a public utility, investment in schools/public spaces). What resources or solutions would you propose and/or advocate for to help support young working age adults in these key areas of need?

There is no silver bullet answer to address all these issues. On housing, I recently stepped down as the Chairman of the Housing Assistance Corporation. We recently released a blueprint for action on affordable housing. We need to use this as a guide for a more robust regional initiative. 2. With respect to creating more better paying jobs, we need to identify opportunities we can seize in a number of emerging fields, and build a strategy around it. I see marine technology and clean water technologies as a potential growth area. I think cultural and heritage tourism has significant growth potential. The County has a poor track record on economic development, and I will want to re-assess all of the county's economic development programs and services and look for opportunities for improvement. 3. Investment in infrastructure and key services. So much of our economic development resources are spent on making the Cape a desirable place for tourism and retirement. Sustaining a year-round economy is almost an afterthought. There is no reason why we can't augment these initiatives in ways that better support the year round economy.

5. AGE-DIVERSE COMMUNITIES. Massachusetts has one of the highest median ages in the country, with Cape Cod/Barnstable County one of the fastest aging regions in the State. The media narrative both locally and nationally is that “young people are fleeing Cape Cod.” However, the demographic changes we are seeing regionally - and their root causes - are much more complex than this. Describe your role as a potential elected official in helping to reshape the Cape’s narrative and cast a vision for our region that attracts and keeps young people on the Cape? If elected, would you advocate for a comprehensive, regional marketing strategy to attract and keep young people on the Cape as other New England states (VT, NH, Maine) have done? What else would you do to ensure that our region prioritizes age-diverse communities?

I would like to play an active role in leading the Cape toward a more balanced economy. A healthy economy really depends on having young people live here and raise families here. I would definitely support reviewing and possibly replicating marketing strategies that have been successful elsewhere. Once we have the right strategy, I would want to advocate and support its implementation. There are far too many plans and strategies that just sit on shelves. Given the current economic climate, we can't afford to do nothing.

Sheila Lyons
Sheila Lyons

Website: http://electsheilalyons.org

Facebook: @ElectSheilaLyons

1. CAPE COD’S FUTURE. What are the three (3) most pressing issues facing Cape Cod today, and how would you address them if elected?

The outcomes and damage our region will experience from our current pandemic is unknown, but we do know some businesses will not survive, income will be down for many individuals/families. Covid-19 has underlined the importance of internet access which many, especially on the outer cape do have. The County's budget is not huge, but it has the ability to stretch the dollars in strategic ways. How can we help families through rent assistance, helping local food pantries is within our ability. The county needs to work with Open Cape to make sure the "last mile" is completed so everyone has internet access. We need to explore how we can create a robust public health system, one that knows the community. This can be done by convening town public health administrators, community health clinics and the hospitals and looking at possibilities and strategies. The next issues is climate change. Two months of no human travel globally proved that fossil fuels have a direct impact and we need to support the towns now passing climate change referendums by public outreach, strategies and investments to make this happen. Third: The county is there to lead and support. The Board of Commissioners, listen to their expert department and convene the towns to discuss, build knowledge and collaboration, that results in a regional plan that supports the towns their shared goals. From the environment to economic development, the commissioners need to advocate and provide leadership. Yet we are living in a moment in time that is providing the County to provide leadership in support BML goals of understanding and a just society. We need to give the Human Rights Commission the resources necessary to foster dialogue, advocacy for fragile and immigrant populations, and support a Human Rights Academy.

2. ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. What is the single biggest opportunity for economic and workforce development on Cape Cod, and how would you leverage it if elected?

The County Commissioners have a direct role with the Cape and Islands Workforce Board. The role has never been exercized properly. There is new leadership and the opportunity to discuss expanding access to job training and job seeking support. Another is ensuring that Open Cape completes the "last mile" broad band that many on the outer cape still do not have. It is crucial for home based businesses and education. The County does have a role since it foster the project from the beginning.

3. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT. If elected, what specific actions would you take to bring our community’s youth, working age young adults, and young families to the table in regional decision- and policy-making processes? How would you encourage and engage the young people of our community to take on leadership roles with local issues, like economic and workforce development?

As I said in the first statment this is the time for leadership and advocacy to help us become better. The Human Rights Commission did have a high school Human Rights Academy, brought students together to perform in Shelter from the Storm etc. Such efforts need to be revitalized.

4. CHALLENGES FOR YOUNG RESIDENTS. CCYP has consistently found through our independent research that young workers on Cape Cod face a number of significant barriers to successfully live and work in the region. The top three challenges that have been identified are: unaffordable and insufficient housing options;a lack of jobs that pay a living wage for our region (i.e., median income for Cape Cod is lower than the state overall, while cost of living is higher);and a lack of investment in infrastructure and services that support year-round quality of life for young people and families (i.e., child care, reliable internet as a public utility, investment in schools/public spaces). What resources or solutions would you propose and/or advocate for to help support young working age adults in these key areas of need?

The County has the Home Consortium and has done at lot in fiscal and support management of Hud grants supporting affordable housing. It is restricted because the federal government money has diminished. Transportation, particularly on the Outer Cape is insufficient. Child care is even more challenging during Covid-19. If there's an opportunity and ability to financially support/match grants, then we should. I addressed what I will do regarding internet access.

5. AGE-DIVERSE COMMUNITIES. Massachusetts has one of the highest median ages in the country, with Cape Cod/Barnstable County one of the fastest aging regions in the State. The media narrative both locally and nationally is that “young people are fleeing Cape Cod.” However, the demographic changes we are seeing regionally - and their root causes - are much more complex than this. Describe your role as a potential elected official in helping to reshape the Cape’s narrative and cast a vision for our region that attracts and keeps young people on the Cape? If elected, would you advocate for a comprehensive, regional marketing strategy to attract and keep young people on the Cape as other New England states (VT, NH, Maine) have done? What else would you do to ensure that our region prioritizes age-diverse communities?

The Cape Cod Commission has been the lead department on providing statistics and best practices. The Commissioners can be more pro-active with the C&I Workforce Board. We need to expand access so that we help ensure work skills/ financial stability for young families/individuals. Support the Arts community which is crucial to our economy. I am open to support a well thought out marketing strategy if presented.

Ron Beaty

Website: http://www.ronbeaty.com/

This candidate did not respond to the CCYP Candidate Questionnaire

Abe Kasparian
Abraham Kasparian

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Abe-Kasparian/100011146984936

1. CAPE COD’S FUTURE. What are the three (3) most pressing issues facing Cape Cod today, and how would you address them if elected?

a. Homelessness/housing

b. Drug and Alcohol addiction

c. Youth Employment/College for Cape Cod Graduating Students

I would expect to take the first three (3) years working, with the Cape Cod Legislative Delegation, to pass legislation that would grant our local Cape Cod Colleges tuition-free credits to our Cape Cod Graduating High school Students. [This would be] an opportunity to receive tuition-free associates degrees provided that [students] would sign a five year contract to stay on Cape Cod and work on Cape Cod. Would seek as part of legislation to assist in funding those Cape Cod non-profit organizations with funds to assist in both recovery from Drug and Alcohol addiction and homelessness for those organizations that can show positive results.

2. ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. What is the single biggest opportunity for economic and workforce development on Cape Cod, and how would you leverage it if elected?

Automotive and Medical fields, to name a few. I would move to ensure legislation for a tuition-waved Nursing Degree and a Business Degree within our rapidly growing healthcare industry, and [for] Automotive Service on Cape Cod to keep our young women and men here on the Cape and build our economy and workforce on Cape Cod.

The Office of County Commissioner only requires about 2 hours per week and one receives nearly $20,000 in pay and other real benefits. I would see the Office and the commitment to be full time, and that I am smart enough to know how stupid I am that I must learn each day once in that Office of all the issues and needs of our community here on Cape Cod as although small footprint on the Cape, but we are as diverse as the citizens that live on the Cape and the needs vary across all of the geographical areas of Cape Cod from Provincetown to Buzzards Bay and all in between. And as diverse as we are as a people so is our individual communities, but we are a truly holistic region/community, and the job must be taken with great care and thought as we move forward to protect and preserve our Cape Cod.

3. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT. If elected, what specific actions would you take to bring our community’s youth, working age young adults, and young families to the table in regional decision- and policy-making processes? How would you encourage and engage the young people of our community to take on leadership roles with local issues, like economic and workforce development?

I believe that we must include the young adults that have made the Cape their home, and we must include them in our Cape Cod Town governments, to simplify the complexities of multi-layered - and what I believe is a superfluous governmental body as is County Government - governments making understand and navigation many times very confusing to our young adults whom call Cape Cod their home. For instance when the past year of 2019, when our students were offended by remarks of elected officials, and wanted to voice in person their heartfelt feeling to the Commissioners, they were compelled to take time off of school to attend the County Commissioners meeting which was an interruption of their personal [lives] which I believe ought have needed to take place. These young women and men were required to travel to Barnstable Superior Court, go through a security check to enter into the Superior Court where the Commissioners meet on Wednesdays at 1:00 PM in very cramped space that clearly did not accommodate all that wanted to attend to address their concerns at that time. It is my belief that any governmental body must be accessible to the public that they represent. Therefore, one way to engage not only our young people but all of Cape Cod citizens is that the Commissioner on a rotating basis (3 times each year) to meet at each of the 15 Town Halls municipalities select persons meeting areas in the evenings to hold their meetings and invite the public to attend to voice their issues whatever they may be that [affects] those citizens with complete a proper decorum being properly observed.

In this matter of openness and transparency the County Government would be completely accessible to the needs of each of the 15 communities that are Cape Cod, we can work with the local issues of that community. We could have the local high school after school programs that do exist here on Cape Cod - of student governmental debate groups discuss issues that are of importance to them and their communities, and ought be considered by the Commissioners and thereby our Cape Cod State Legislative Delegations can also provide their input and work with our young adults. I believe that if County Government is abolished that the nearly $15,000,000 would go back to the local municipalities, that each year can be used to address a number of individual home town issues, such as homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, and the economic issues facing our young adults, and our vets, and our senior citizens, and all in between. We can do much better without the superfluous layer of County Government (my personal belief, from the times I have tried to engage and attend the County Commissioners meetings).

4. CHALLENGES FOR YOUNG RESIDENTS. CCYP has consistently found through our independent research that young workers on Cape Cod face a number of significant barriers to successfully live and work in the region. The top three challenges that have been identified are: unaffordable and insufficient housing options;a lack of jobs that pay a living wage for our region (i.e., median income for Cape Cod is lower than the state overall, while cost of living is higher);and a lack of investment in infrastructure and services that support year-round quality of life for young people and families (i.e., child care, reliable internet as a public utility, investment in schools/public spaces). What resources or solutions would you propose and/or advocate for to help support young working age adults in these key areas of need?

I may not be the most politically articulate person in the political world, but I believe that the return of the special county tax that is attached (but not visibly disclosed to the real estate taxpayer on our real estate tax bills) to our real estate tax bills from our 15 Towns' Tax Collector of nearly $15,000 each year can then be allocated at our Town Meeting and additional fund[s] would be provided at the local level, that can be directed to housing, training for better high paying job[s] - or used to incentivize companies to give higher pay for the job opening by a form of lower taxes upon those business[es] that would take the time to offer our young adults such better wages. Also work with our State Legislative Delegation to introduce amendments to current law that would address these issues not only for Cape Cod [but] the Commonwealth as a whole. There is no one or two or three simple solutions to this both complicate[d] and convoluted and shall require much openness and exchange of ideas to seek to resolve these issues that appears no one has really sought to resolve here on Cape Cod and the Commonwealth as a whole, but I would work and use the Office to bring to the forefront these matter[s] and ensure that State Legislative Delegation is fully engaged, to work to bring about true systemic change to Cape Cod.

5. AGE-DIVERSE COMMUNITIES. Massachusetts has one of the highest median ages in the country, with Cape Cod/Barnstable County one of the fastest aging regions in the State. The media narrative both locally and nationally is that “young people are fleeing Cape Cod.” However, the demographic changes we are seeing regionally - and their root causes - are much more complex than this. Describe your role as a potential elected official in helping to reshape the Cape’s narrative and cast a vision for our region that attracts and keeps young people on the Cape? If elected, would you advocate for a comprehensive, regional marketing strategy to attract and keep young people on the Cape as other New England states (VT, NH, Maine) have done? What else would you do to ensure that our region prioritizes age-diverse communities?

I believe that our Community College is a great first start that they (by way of legislation) offer our graduating high school students tuition-free associate degrees with an agreement that those students sign stating that they will stay on Cape Cod for a period of five (5) years which they by that agreement would pay for their acquired education. The Commissioners must work with our State Legislative Delegation partners, together with our local elected municipalities select persons (15 Towns and Villages of Cape Cod) to address this and other [crises] the Cape faces, this being only one of many, [where] we must work across "party lines" for the good of all Cape Codders. And as elected officials we must listen and MUST seek the community input to work for real solutions and changes for the good of Cape Cod. I would want to open the County Commissioner meetings into the local municipalities meeting halls and organize and engage our young adults into our local municipalities to have an effect of real change in our local and State Government. There are more we can do and must do to engage our young adults need to be engaged, and be completely a part of the communities they live and call home, which not only helps them but by them staying on the Cape they assist all of us that are not considered young adults, but have a symbiotic relationship with our young adults success.