Local Election Turns Nasty

Tuesday April 23, 2024

GEORGETOWN – It’s campaign season for towns that elect Boards of Selectmen.
This is usually a hurly burly time on the North Shore when current select board members seek reelection and compete with residents who think they would do a better job governing their town.
This spring, none of the contests seem as contentious as the four-candidate race in Georgetown, who are vying for two SelectBoard seats. The fiery contest, which has its roots in the on-going fight to control the town’s Conservation Commission (ConComm), got more heated last week when photos of the private homes of at least five local officials were posted on social media.
The four candidates for the Georgetown SelectBoard are Doug Dawes, Michael Donahue, Bruce Fried and Laura Repplier.
Dawes has served three terms on the SelectBoard and was its chair. Donahue, a member of the Community Preservation Commission, is also running for the School Board. He has also petitioned the SelectBoard to remove Rachel Bancroft from the ConComm. She is also a SelectBoard member.
Fried is vice chair of the Planning Board. Repplier served nine years on the ConComm before the SelectBoard did not reappoint her.
Kevin Wood, who supports Dawes and Donahue for SelectBoard, posted on a community Facebook page photos of homes belonging to SelectBoard members, ConComm members and Planning Board members who support Fried.
One local official, who had her home’s photo posted, suggested it was “Stalking.”
When contacted by The Town Common about why he posted the photos, Wood responded with what he described as a “copyrighted statement” that he maintained must be quoted in full or the newspaper would be in violation of federal law.
He wrote, “A number of elected officials in Georgetown are displaying ‘Bruce Fried for Selectboard’ campaign signs on their property in support of his candidacy. I originally reached out to several of my elected officials privately and requested their reaction to Mr. Fried’s email. They did not respond to me.
“I then followed up with this request publicly by photographing the signs on their property and posting my query to them on Facebook. I did this to elicit a public respond from my elected officials and illustrate to the Georgetown electorate that their elected officials were at least tacitly supporting hate speech.
“There have been several objections to my posting the photographs and publicizing Mr. Fried’s despicable email. There has also been significant outrage from numerous Georgetown citizens that Mr. Fried would write such an email and that our elected officials will not address that.”
Fried’s email to Dawes last August asked him to provide proof for his statement that many residents have complained about the ConComm. The commission is charged under state and local laws with protecting the town’s wetlands.
Wood maintained that Fried’s private email to Dawes was “hate speech” because it referenced Dawes’ support for a local minister. Fried disputes that his email could be classified as hate speech.
Wood, who was voted down recently by the SelectBoard to fill a vacancy on the ConComm, argued that Fried’s email “should be a disqualifier to hold public office.”
“Bruce Fried is a candidate for Georgetown Selectman and elected member of the Planning Board. He wrote the attached email to Selectmen Doug Dawes in August 2023. In my opinion this email constitutes Hate Speech and should be a disqualifier to hold public office.
“I believe that public discussion of public official conduct is imperative to good governance. Those discussions can only further the goals advocated by the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion movement.”
Wood has filed numerous complaints with the state Attorney General, accusing town boards, including the ConComm, of violating the state Open Meeting Law. The attorney general has taken no action on these complaints.

Subscribe To Receive Our Newspaper Every Wednesday Morning FREE

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and newspaper within your emails.

You have Successfully Subscribed!