No Cut In Local Aid This Fiscal Year

By SCOTT JACKSON

Massachusetts lawmakers continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic but will maintain local aid to cities and towns in the current fiscal year and even plan to increase funding for schools.

The legislature has yet to approve a budget for fiscal year 2021, which began July 1, relying instead short-term budgets to keep the state open in the interim. Despite the uncertainty, Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday said he and legislative leaders have agreed not to cut local aid in the current fiscal year.

“Obviously, we’re working to fully understand the impact of COVID-19 and how it will affect the commonwealth’s own fiscal situation. That has caused delay with respect to the release of a final and full fiscal 2021 budget, however, we do know that cities and towns rely on the state’s budget so they can have clarity with respect to state aid to schools and other general government services,” the governor said.

“For fiscal 2021, our administration and the legislature are committed to providing cities and towns no less than the fiscal year 2020 funding for unrestricted general government aid and school aid funding.”

In addition, Baker said he and legislative leaders have agreed to provide an additional $107 million in Chapter 70 money, which is used for education, to municipalities.

“This agreement, in addition to the federal aid dollars distributed to all cities and towns, adds up to well over $1 billion in new funds to ensure schools can fund the changes that they need to make to teach kids this fall,” Baker said

The extra $1 billion local communities will receive, the governor added, will more than fully fund the Student Opportunity Act that lawmakers approved in January.

Large Gatherings A ‘Recipe For Disaster’ Baker Warns

By SCOTT JACKSON

Gov. Charlie Baker warned that large gatherings seen lately throughout Massachusetts are a “recipe for disaster” that could help the coronavirus spread.

The governor on Friday noted the state’s positive test rate for COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks from 1.7 percent to roughly 2 percent and said recent large gatherings are to blame.

“Unfortunately, these gatherings are resulting in new COVID case clusters and ramping up the spread of the virus,” Baker said. “These lapses in judgement, these missed opportunities to keep the door that we all worked so hard to close, shut, are contributing to a slight but important rise in positive cases here in Massachusetts.”

The Department of Public Health is investigating clusters arising from a large party for lifeguards in Falmouth, a house party in Chatham, a high school graduation party held in Chelmsford, a large house party in Wrentham, a party aboard a ship in Boston Harbor, a 90-person prom party in Cohasset and an unauthorized football camp in Weymouth, Baker said.

Marylou Sudders, the state’s health and human services secretary, said the Weymouth football camp included participants from 17 communities. Several of the individuals associated with that gathering have since tested positive for COVID-19.

Baker said transmission of the coronavirus is more likely in large groups of people who are neither wearing masks nor practicing social distancing.

“This behavior dramatically increases the likelihood of infecting other people and this virus can and in many cases does take off like wildfire,” he said. “The situations I just recapped are a recipe for disaster and need to stop if we want to continue to re-open and get back to a new normal in everybody’s lives here in Massachusetts.”

The governor said residents who do attend gatherings – whether indoors or outdoors – should wear a mask, avoid sharing food and drink, and use common sense. He noted indoor gatherings are presently limited to 25 people or fewer and cautioned that that limit could be reduced if necessary.

“If we continue to see a rise in new cases and changes in our public health data, we’ll have to consider a number of options, including reducing the gathering size back down to a smaller number,” Baker said.

He also said people, “need to be responsible about traveling,” and noted his new travel order goes into effect Saturday. The new order applies to all travelers arriving in the state, including residents returning home and college students coming to school for the fall semester.

Under the order, all travelers arriving in Massachusetts must fill out a form, which can be found online at mass.gov/matraveler, unless they are arriving from a state designated as being at a lower risk for COVID-19 transmission.

Those travelers subject to the new rules will be required to quarantine for 14 days unless they can produce a negative COVID-19 test result that was administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts. Travelers would no longer be subject to the quarantine requirement if they receive a negative test result after they arrive in the state.

Those who violate the new rule face a fine of $500 per day.

Eight states are currently deemed lower risk: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. To be designated as a lower-risk state, a state must have a positive test rate below 5 percent and fewer than six new cases per day per 100,000 residents. Both are measured as a seven-day rolling average.

Baker on Friday also announced the start of a new public-awareness campaign, “Mask Up MA!” to remind everyone of the importance of wearing masks or other face coverings. The campaign includes a new website, mass.gov/maskup.

Masks have been mandatory in public when social distancing is not possible since May in the Bay State. Those who violate the rule face a fine of up to $300.

Quincy Officials Eyeing Hybrid Approach For New School Year

By SCOTT JACKSON

School officials in Quincy prefer a hybrid learning model – with students learning in-person two days a week and remotely at home three days a week – for the start of the new academic year next month.

Kevin Mulvey, the school system’s interim superintendent, reviewed the return-to-school options during the School Committee’s meeting Wednesday night. The committee approved a preliminary re-opening plan Wednesday and will review a more comprehensive plan next week.

The re-opening plan includes three different models – in-person instruction, remote learning and the hybrid option – and will be submitted to the state for approval. The committee was not asked to choose between the three models when it met Wednesday.

Mulvey had assembled a task force to map out those three options; task force members included school officials, teachers, parents, and the heads of the city’s health, public buildings and traffic departments. The task force has determined that a return to full-time in-person instruction is not feasible, Mulvey said.

“Full in-person at this point isn’t really doable at this time, but a hybrid approach…absolutely is,” he said. “So is remote learning for those students and parents who wish to remain remote when we return in September.”

There is not enough space within the city’s school buildings to accommodate six feet of physical distancing, even if alternative spaces were used, according to the preliminary plan submitted to the state.

There would be enough room at most schools – 70 percent of elementary schools, all five middle schools and both high schools, with the use of alternative spaces at some of those buildings – to accommodate three feet of physical distancing, the minimum required by the state. According to the submission to the state, however, both the district and the Quincy Education Association, as well as the Massachusetts Teachers Association, have “significant health and safety concerns” with the three-foot model.

Under the hybrid model the district is proposing, students in all grade levels would be split alphabetically between two cohorts. One cohort would attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesday and then learn remotely Thursdays and Fridays. The other cohort would learn remotely on Mondays and Tuesdays and in-person on Thursdays and Fridays. Certain high-need students would receive in-person instructions all five days.

Under the proposed hybrid model, both cohorts would learn remotely on Wednesdays, during which time the schools could be cleaned. Because of that, half days would be moved to Wednesdays from Tuesdays this year.

The hybrid model would work differently based on grade level.

Each elementary class would be split in two – half in one cohort and half in the other – with two teachers assigned to each class. Each cohort would have the same teacher four days a week with both teachers leading a combined remote class on Wednesdays.

A similar approach would be taken in the middle schools, though students would have different teachers for different subjects. Class times would be longer than they would be in a typical school year, but students would spend roughly the same amount of time learning each subject as they normally would.

The remote learning portion for both elementary and middle school students would be live.

“We really felt strongly that the days that children are remote, they still need to have that live instruction from a teacher,” said Erin Perkins, the district’s elementary curriculum coordinator. “We could not assign asynchronous activities.”

High school students would continue taking all classes, including electives. High school classes would be split into two cohorts, with the same teacher for both groups. Under that model, students would receive live instruction on the two days they attend class in-person and on Wednesdays, while the other two days they are at home would include asynchronous activities.

School Committee member Emily Lebo said she was concerned high school students would only receive a half year’s education using that approach.

“It looks like we’re going to have enough time to teach kids half of the content that we normally would with some remote supplement,” she said. “I’m not blaming anybody for this, I’m just very worried.”

North Quincy High School Principal Robert Shaw said he and Lawrence Taglieri, his counterpart at Quincy High School, would have to work with teachers on lesson planning to prepare for the hybrid model. Shaw suggested an English teacher could focus on a book or a literary unit during the in-person sessions and then give students a writing assignment for the remote days.

“I’m addressing a different part of my standards through the remote sessions than I did with the live sessions,” he said. “Not as easy for a math teacher, I don’t think, or a vocational teacher. That is a challenge and I think we just call on the creativity of people to get there as much as we can.”

Committee member Doug Gutro said he was concerned about a potential lack of structure for high schoolers during the two days of remote learning that are not Wednesdays, based on his sons’ experience last school year.

“So much of it just felt like homework that they could whenever they choose throughout the day,” Gutro said. “The lack of structure was not good. I’ve got pretty disciplined kids…but it matters. It helps.”

School officials had surveyed parents to gauge their opinion on re-opening schools in the fall; 3,456 parents, representing 4,404 students, completed the survey.

Overall, 37.5 percent of parents said they preferred in-person instruction, 32.3 percent favored remote learning, and 30.2 percent chose the hybrid model.

Parents’ preference varied by grade level. A plurality of high school and middle parents said they preferred the hybrid model; 39.3 percent of high school parents and 34.2 percent of middle school parents chose that option. The favorite at the elementary school level was in-person instruction, with 40.7 percent of the vote.

Teachers were also surveyed as part of the process; 690 teachers had completed the survey as of July 27. Roughly half of those who completed the survey teach at the elementary school level with the remainder split between middle and high school.

Teachers preferred the hybrid model; 40 percent of teachers chose that option, 35.4 percent favored remote learning and 24.6 percent selected in-person instruction.

Committee member Paul Bregoli asked if it would be possible to provide in-person instruction full-time at the elementary level, given that 40.7 percent of elementary parents supported that approach.

“Keeping their attention with an online model, I think, is very difficult,” Bregoli said. “I’ve been there as a teacher and as a counsellor and I know those kids.”

In addition, Bregoli said students in that age group are less likely to contract and spread COVID-19.

“The science says that those kids are the least likely to contract the virus and the least likely to pass it on, so I don’t think there is an issue in terms of putting people in danger – either students or staff,” he said.

Mulvey, the interim superintendent, said roughly 50 percent of elementary parents would have to opt into full-time remote learning in order to create enough space that the remaining could receive in-person instruction full-time.

“We’re not giving up on it,” he said. “We would love to see in-person for elementary, just because [of the] difficulty of doing remote learning, even in the hybrid model, for the younger grades.”

Mulvey said the district does have enough teachers to move ahead with the proposed hybrid model – as well as a remote-only program for students whose families opt to keep their children out of schools this year.

The district, Mulvey added, is looking to hire additional certified teachers as substitutes in the event they are needed in case a teacher becomes ill or otherwise needs to take time off. The district does have some specialists – such as literacy and math specialists – who could shift into teaching roles. Assistant principals and certain members of the superintendent’s leadership team could potentially be pressed into service as teachers if necessary.

The first day of classes for students in Quincy is currently Sept. 9.

The state is allowing districts to push back the start of the school year to as late as Sept. 16 so teachers can receive extra training on remote instruction.  Mulvey said Quincy Public Schools should delay the start of the school year to Sept. 16 to allow for the additional professional development. That would equal a delay of five school days.

Three Finalists Chosen In Quincy Superintendent Search

By SCOTT JACKSON

The three finalists to become the next superintendent of the Quincy Public Schools have been identified and will interview with the School Committee over the next two weeks.

The three finalists are Omar Easy, the executive assistant principal for business engagement and innovation at Everett High School; Jahmal Mosley, superintendent of the Nashua, N.H., school system; and Kevin Mulvey, the interim superintendent in Quincy.

The School Committee will interview Easy on Tuesday, Aug. 4; Mulvey on Tuesday, Aug. 11; and Mosley on Thursday, Aug. 13. Each of those interviews will begin at 6 p.m. and will be open to the public.

The committee will then convene on Friday, Aug. 14, to select the new superintendent.

The school system is looking for a new superintendent for the first time in two decades. Richard DeCristofaro, the superintendent since 2001, left that position in June to become the president of Quincy College.

Twenty candidates applied for the open position. A 13-person search committee narrowed the field of applicants down to eight semifinalists who the search committee interviewed behind closed doors. The search committee had been tasked with picking three to six external candidates as finalists; internal applicants automatically qualified as finalists.

School board member Frank Santoro, who led the search committee, said there had been a fourth finalist chosen but that person withdrew their name from consideration.

To establish the selection criteria for the new superintendent, the School Committee partnered with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to develop a leadership profile. Nearly 1,000 residents and other stakeholders responded to an online survey as part of that process, and 120 people participated in focus groups.

Heather Hamilton Independent Candidate For County Commissioner

Brookline Select Board member Heather Hamilton has officially qualified as an independent candidate for one of the two Norfolk County Commissioner seats up for election Nov. 3rd.

Heather Hamilton

The three commissioners are elected to staggered four-year terms. Two commissioner seats are on the ballot this fall. One seat is open and the other is currently held by Quincy Democrat Joseph Shea who is running for re-election.

The three commissioners currently control a $31.7 million budget drawn partially from local property assessments with the rest coming from state funds. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton said she seeks to return as much of this money as possible directly to the county’s 28 cities and towns to relieve distressed municipal budgets.

A two-term selectwoman with extensive experience in public administration, Hamilton said she is also passionate about bringing transparency and sustainability to county government. Hamilton, after observing that Commissioner meetings are only accessible via unrecorded conference calls that are not posted online, said Norfolk County residents deserve better.

“As the first woman to run for this office in 16 years, I believe it is critical that an experienced, conscientious public servant committed to transparency fill one of the two seats up for election in November,” Hamilton said.

A county resident for over a dozen years, Hamilton began her career in public service ensuring MassDOT complied with accessibility standards before transitioning to lead the largest fleet of publicly-owned vehicles in New England. In this leadership role, Hamilton increased the fleet’s percentage of alternative fuel vehicles by almost 50 percent.

“I have always been passionate about sustainability and affordability. My time on the Brookline Select Board focused on making town government more fiscally responsible to ensure those that want to live in this community can afford to do so,” Hamilton said. During her time on Brookline’s Select Board, Hamilton co-sponsored and worked to adopt warrant articles increasing sustainability, alternative vehicle pilot programs, and senior affordable housing. Seventy-four percent  of Brookline voters voted to re-elect Hamilton during the competitive 2020 town election.

Hamilton now seeks to bring her policy-oriented, non-partisan management style to the Norfolk County Commissioners’ Office. She is engaging voters in each of the county’s 28 communities to learn how she can accommodate the county’s diverse needs while finding ways to directly support the county’s communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more on Heather’s biography and policy proposals, visit her website, HeatherHamilton.org.

 

‘We Can’t Let Our Guard Down,’ Health Commissioner Says

By SCOTT JACKSON

Health Commissioner Ruth Jones on Tuesday said residents cannot let their guard down and need to keep taking steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 with Quincy seeing an uptick in cases in recent weeks and three restaurants now closed after employees tested positive for the virus.

Jones said residents need to take the steps that helped lower the case rate in the first place, including wearing masks correctly and social distancing.

“I think people need to be responsible. They have to wear masks and wear them correctly so that their nose and mouth is covered,” she said, noting she has seen people wearing masks only over their nose or on their chin.

“People need to keep social distancing,” Jones added. “COVID-19 is still here and it is going to be here for a while, so we can’t let our guard down.”

On Tuesday afternoon, city officials said the total number of confirmed COVID-19 in Quincy since March reached 1,391, up 22 since Friday. Of those cases, 1,140 have recovered and 135 have died.

There were 64 active cases in the city as of late Tuesday. Jones said there had been as few as eight active cases in the city earlier this month. The bulk of cases seen in recent weeks have been individuals in their 20s and 30s, she added.

Three restaurants have now closed after employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Malachy’s Saloon, located at 51 Granite St. in Quincy Center, became the latest to close on Monday. City officials said anyone who visited Malachy’s on any of three occasions, whether they were seated inside or outdoors, should contact the Health Department at 617-376-1286. Those three occasions are July 21 from 2 to 10 p.m.; July 22 before 3 p.m.; and July 23 before 11:30 a.m.

Manet Lunch, located at 1099 Sea St., closed last week after an employee tested positive. Patrons who were there on July 11 from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; July 12 from noon to 5 p.m.; July 18 from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; or July 19 from noon to 5 p.m. are asked to contact the Health Department.

The Hofbrau, located at 400 Sea St., also closed last week. City officials said three employees of that restaurant tested positive.

Jones said each restaurant would be closed for two weeks from the last known date of exposure. In each case, she said the restaurant was required to sit empty for 24 hours with windows open to provide ventilation. The space must then be deep cleaned.

In addition to the cases at city restaurant, a parent who attended the Saturday morning commencement ceremony for Quincy High School tested positive for COVID-19. School officials in a statement Sunday said the Health Department had completed contact tracing for individuals potentially exposed to the virus then. Anyone who assisted with a medical emergency during the ceremony was asked to call the Health Department.

“There is a low risk of transmission to the majority of those attending the ceremony,” Kevin Mulvey, the interim superintendent said, because of the precautions that were in place for the event. Everyone inside the stadium was required to wear a mask or face covering, seats were assigned to ensure guests were spaced six feet apart in the stands, and ingress and egress to and from the stadium was staggered.

Mayor Thomas Koch, in his daily update on Monday, said the parent had been feeling ill when they went to the ceremony and urged residents to stay home if they feel unwell, even if they suspect it is only a cold.

“If you’re not feeling well stay home,” Koch said. “Don’t put other people in jeopardy please.”

He also stressed the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and proper hygiene.

“Folks please use good judgement. If you’re out walking or riding your bike at night, you don’t have to wear a mask but if you’re going to be around people, please wear a mask. Wash your hands and do your best to social distance,” Koch said.

“We’ve got to get through this together as a community. I ask for your continued cooperation.”

Baker: Out-Of-State Travelers Must Quarantine For 14 Days Or Face $500 Per Day Fine

On Friday (July 24th) Governor Charlie Baker announced that effective Aug. 1st,  all travelers entering the Commonwealth, including both out of state residents and Massachusetts residents returning home, will be required to comply with a new travel order. The travel order and other information is available at www.mass.gov/MAtraveler.

Travel Order: Starting Aug. 1, all visitors and Massachusetts residents returning home, including students returning to campuses for the fall semester, must fill out a “Massachusetts Travel Form” and quarantine for 14 days unless they are coming from a COVID-19 lower risk state or they can produce a negative COVID-19 test result administered no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts, or they are included in one of the other, limited exemptions.

Individuals who get a test must remain in quarantine until they receive their negative test results. Failure to comply may result in a $500 fine per day.

Travelers are exempt from this requirement if they are coming from a state that has been designated by the Department of Public Health as a lower risk COVID-19 state or fall into another narrow exemption category.

Based on current public health data, those lower risk states will include: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Hawaii.

Traveler exemptions include people passing through the state, people commuting across state lines for work, people traveling to Massachusetts for medical treatment, people complying with military orders, or people traveling to work in federally designated critical infrastructure sectors (essential services).

Prior to travel, people should visit www.mass.gov/MAtraveler to fill out the “Massachusetts Travel Form” or text “MATraveler” to 888-777.

The list of lower risk states is subject to change based on public health data, and states may be added or taken off the list at any time.

Read the Order here.

The Administration also announced updates to the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces to incorporate the requirements of the travel order. This included sector-specific updates for lodging, higher education, office spaces and other industry sectors.

Updated guidance: The Administration today updated guidance for lodging, offices, manufacturing, construction, labs, performance venues and indoor and outdoor events relative to the travel order. In addition, lodging operators are required to notify guests about this new travel order.

Employers are strongly discouraged from allowing business-related travel to destinations other than those appearing on the list of COVID-19 lower risk states. Employers that permit employer-paid or -reimbursed travel to those states should take measures to ensure employees comply with this order. Employers are also urged to strongly discourage their employees from taking leisure travel to destinations not included on the list of COVID-19 lower-risk states.

To read the updated guidance, click here.

All travelers and residents are required to continue to follow the Administration’s order that requires face coverings, and practice good hygiene, social distancing and regular hand washing. People should not travel to Massachusetts if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Travelers will be informed of this order and new travel guidance by airlines, passenger rail corporations, bus companies and some major travel agents when booking trips and before arrival in Massachusetts.

For more information, please visit mass.gov/MATraveler or text “MATraveler” to 888-777.

Quincy Dog Park On Quarry Street Opens

Mayor Thomas Koch welcomes pet owners and their dogs Tuesday at the new Quincy Dog Park on Quarry Street. Here Katie Livingstone and her pup, Luna, share a moment with the mayor. Photo courtesy Lisa Aimola, Mayor’s Office.

Mayor Thomas P. Koch announces the official opening of Quincy’s first City dog park. The park is centrally located on Quarry Street and includes three separate areas for active dogs of all sizes, small dogs and senior dogs.  It is equipped with shelter pavilions, benches and watering stations.

The Stanton Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting the welfare of dogs and strengthening the human/dog bond, granted the City of Quincy $247,500 towards the park’s design and construction costs.

“The new dog park offers our community a dedicated and safe environment for dogs to exercise and for people to socialize with other pet owners and enjoy time outdoors,” Koch said. “The park is situated at the top of the hill so the area has a beautiful view and peaceful feel.”

As a reminder to the community, in accordance with Governor Charlie Baker’s guidelines for the state of Massachusetts, the City of Quincy requires face masks and the practice of proper social distancing while enjoying this new space with their pets. The use of a mask does not replace important social distancing measures. Individuals must continue to maintain more than six feet of distance from other people, wash hands regularly with soap and water and stay home when sick.

The 20-acre parcel will also be home to the future Quincy Animal Shelter/Quincy Police Canine Unit and Animal Control.

TRYSTAN CHAN of North Quincy and his dog, Luna, play at this Quincy Dog Park Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy Lisa Aimola, Mayor’s Office.

Cain Endorses Kennedy For U.S. Senate

On Tuesday (July 14), Quincy City Councillor Ian Cain endorsed Congressman Joe Kennedy III for U.S. Senate in a video released by the Kennedy for Massachusetts campaign. A Quincy native who was elected to the Ward 3 council seat in 2015, Ian Cain cited the need for new, bold leadership in the Senate as his reason for endorsing Kennedy.

https://twitter.com/joekennedy/status/1283126223892340736 

“I’m with Joe right now because the challenges of our generation require new, bold leadership in the Senate,” Cain said in a video on Facebook and Twitter. “It is time for our generation to take the mantle of responsibility in our state and for our country’s future. I appreciate Joe Kennedy because he is a person of integrity and there is action behind his words. It is time for leadership that is ready to tackle the hard issues. Joe is that kind of leader.”

“I’m proud to have City Councillor Ian Cain’s support in this race,” Kennedy said. “His leadership in Quincy emulates the basic promise of this campaign and what we should expect from all of our elected leaders today. He shows up in his community and listens to the concerns of his constituents. It’s a simple concept that’s all too often forgotten by today’s elected officials. I look forward to working with him to build a better future for Quincy and for our Commonwealth.”

Kennedy is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in the Sept. 1 primary. He is trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.

Cain is among three Quincy city councillors who have endorsed Kennedy for U.S. Senate. The others are City Council President Nina Liang and Ward 4’s Brian Palmucci.

Joseph Shea Seeking Re-Election As Norfolk County Commissioner

Pledging to continue working to reform Norfolk County government with modern-day best practices, County Commissioner Joseph P. Shea of Quincy announces he will be on the ballot for re-election in the Democratic Primary Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Joseph Shea

The top two vote-getters in the Democratic primary for county commissioner will advance to the Nov. 3rd general election.

Shea, who is widely respected as Quincy’s former city clerk, has served as a county commissioner since 2015. He is known for his trusted leadership in the county and says he is running for re-election to continue reforming Norfolk County government into a cost-effective, inclusive and transparent regional entity that provides a real value to Norfolk County residents, families and communities.

“I’ve dedicated my life to public service and providing proven leadership at every step of the way,” Shea said in announcing his re-election campaign. “Helping people, promoting good government, and serving the county for the last five years has been my passion. I’m looking forward to this year’s re-election campaign and asking for the continued support of Norfolk County residents so that I can continue doing what I love.”

Shea said he is proud to have earned the continued support of various county elected officials, labor organizations and community groups. He has received the endorsements of the Norfolk County Labor Council whose members announced their support of his re-election campaign in mid-June.

As one of Norfolk County’s three county commissioners, Shea says his priorities for the county have focused on modernizing its financial and capital planning practices and working to ensure the county remains a viable regional partner with local communities. He said his public service experience has centered on working to connect residents with the government and to improve government operations at every point in his career.

“For the first time in Norfolk County, we’re creating policies to help guide financial decisions. We’ll be leading a comprehensive analysis to better position the county’s fiscal health,” Shea said. “We’re also prioritizing capital investments in our infrastructure. We’re investing the upkeep and maintenance of the county’s six court houses, including our historic Superior Court in Dedham Square.

“We’ve made significant improvements,” Shea continued, “at the Registry of Deeds and Administration Offices, and we’re continuing to work with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to bring the Norfolk County Agricultural High School further into the 21st century.”

Shea added that the county has continued looking at innovative ways to promote regional services between Norfolk County communities. The county is currently working on a proposal to support community organizations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and recently led a state grant initiative to create more regional public health nursing services between the towns of Avon, Holbrook and Randolph. His plan is to continue more of these efforts in the coming years.

“We know we have something special in Norfolk County, with our renowned agricultural high school and so many resources that continue to make a difference to our residents and communities. But there’s also no question that county government in 2020 is much different that it was even 20 years ago,” Shea said. “It’s clear that Norfolk County’s government must continue to respond, adapt, and ensure that the county is governed with modern-day practices that remain viable and sustainable as we move forward.

“I’m running for re-election and I’m honored to ask for the support of the residents of Norfolk County to continue this work,” Shea added.