Override committee begins in the background

Thursday, March 12, 2009
By Cary Shuman

By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
For the Transcript

As town officials work in public meetings to prepare a Proposition 2 1/2 override question for voters on May 19, a small group of local volunteers and community leaders are working behind the scenes to prepare an effort to support that override request.

The group, led by local businessman and veteran Richard Honan and Toni Ann Jehrico, has been engaged in a process aimed at identifying local residents who support an override and are willing to be part of the election process, so that once the Town Council finalizes the override request, a cadre of local volunteers can get to work identifying and mobilizing their support.

“A lot of what we’re doing right now is background work,” said Pat Milano, School Committee member and one of the volunteers already working with Honan. “The idea is that once the override question is finalized, we’ll be able to get working right away to support the question.”

Honan noted that he has long eschewed the political side of life in Winthrop, despite being heavily involved in the community. However, he noted that the importance of the issue this time convinced him to get involved in an election for the first time.

“We really don’t have any stake in how the question is worded or what the amount will be,” said Honan. “We’re just looking to provide a platform to help push the override. There are two sides to every debate – we’re one side. We’re not telling anyone they’re wrong if they don’t support the override or feel they can’t afford it, but from my perspective, I don’t see how we can afford not to pass it. There just aren’t enough cutbacks to be made that could balance the budget by cutting services.”

Honan, who is well known as an active veterans advocate and has been managing care package donation to Winthrop natives serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than four years, said he hopes people who know him will understand where he is coming from in supporting the override.

“I’ve never been involved in a political fight. It was very hard for me to decide to get involved in this,” he said. “But I’m hoping that people who know me and know what I stand for will see why I’m getting involved this time. I’m not doing this for me; I’m doing it for my children and grandchildren, who all live in this town. My grandchildren are in the schools. I need for the schools to be good and for the library to be open.”

Honan and Milano both said the committee is hoping to “lay it out so that people see the benefit” of passing the override and thus they will be able to convince a majority of voters to support the requested tax increase.

Other members of the Proposition 2 1/2 organizing committee are: William Holden, Cathy DelVento. Steve Stoddard and Gus Martucci. Anyone who wishes to join the Override Committee is encouraged to contact Honan, or any other committee member.

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