In a Planet Grafton exclusive, we have secured this publication’s very first interview with a sitting elected official – new Selectman Ed Prisby. Ed was kind enough to sit down with us and discuss his first 60 days in office.
PG: Ed, thanks for agreeing to sit down and talk.
EP: No problem, I was here anyway.
PG: How have your first 60 days in office gone?
EP: It’s been slow. And, if I’m being honest, not all that much different than not being selectman at all. I’m not exactly in the loop when it comes to information sharing. I had no idea that we’d terminated our Treasurer, for instance, until a bunch of other non-elected people started texting me about it. So, that part could be better.
But, all-in-all, the lack of movement is sort of par for the course in Grafton in the summertime. Not much happens until August/September as we approach October town meeting.
PG: Any surprises so far?
EP: I’ve gotten along with everyone much better than I thought I would. Maybe the rest would say the same about me. At least, I hope they would. I recognize that there’s a difference between what an activist does, by necessity, and what a politician does, by necessity. If I want to get anything accomplished, I need two more votes. I can count to three, I’m not dumb. So, consensus building on big issues is important to me.
Let’s put it this way: with every decision I make, I’m constantly asking myself whether Grafton will be better off a few months from now for my having made that decision. As opposed to whether I’d be better off if I do or do not say something. It’s a change in perspective. But at the same time it’s important not to lose my voice, either.
PG: It sounds like a balancing act.
EP: It is. So, to people who are used to a more aggressive style from me, I would just ask that you be patient and trust me. We’ve got a lot at stake in Grafton this year and I’m working on providing leadership and help with our issues, not just editorializing.
PG: Speaking of that, you’ve been a little quiet lately. What’s up with that?
EP: Well, I have been and again, it’s all part of finding some balance. The campaign was all consuming, and a few other areas of my life were slipping a little. I’m a husband, dad to three little kids and a partner at my firm where I manage an entire department. And other people in my life wanted the same time and attention that I was giving to Grafton. And, frankly, because those things come first, that’s what I had to do.
PG: Do you suppose anyone really cares about your personal problems?
EP: I do not, no.
PG: People described the campaign as being “negative” in tone. Do you agree with that assessment?
EP: No, I don’t. At least, it wasn’t on my end. I got attacked on the affordable housing thing, and on the budget. Two topics I might know a little something about, but I had anticipated that. And I thought I responded fairly and effectively.
PG: How big a role did Grafton Complains play in your election?
EP: That’s hard to say, but I won by 25 votes, so I think everything I did to reach out to people helped. I had people early on begging me to stay off of there, but that platform really motivated people to pay attention and vote. I think it’s high time to say that GC detractors are missing the boat. Dismiss that page at your peril. But I do want to point out that there never was any affiliation with that page and my campaign. We just all sort of hit it off because we share the same caustic sense of humor. But we all don’t agree on everything. No one ever does.
PG: Speaking of, the BoS caught some blow back recently on handling the departures of the Animal Control employee and the non-renewal of Board of Health members.
EP: Yeah, admittedly I could have done a better job here. I missed the June 19 meeting because I had an important work obligation. The BoS initially took up both topics that night, and I wasn’t there for it. So, I own that.
Going forward, in my opinion, if we’re replacing volunteers, they should know about it before hand and have the opportunity, if they desire, to defend their actions. Remember, I went through the same thing three years ago, and still have some pretty strong feelings about that. I apparently wasn’t good enough, according to some of my colleagues, to serve on Affordable Housing, but I guess voters felt differently. Enough of them did, anyway.
As far as Animal Control goes, there were some things the town could have done better with the departure. You have an employee of 52 years, who is by all accounts a real gentleman. At the 6/19 meeting, it was implied he was leaving because of health reasons, when actually he was being terminated. That should not have happened.
At the same time, the town is right in moving toward a more efficient, data-driven and professional service that limits liability and complies with animal control laws. The way we were doing it – even if it was for a long time – was not acceptable to me. And anyone who knows me knows I think that just because you’ve been doing something a long time is not a real reason to continue doing it. I ran for office promising people modern, efficient government. That’s what we’re delivering here.
PG: What are your goals for the next year?
EP: Well, let’s start with my goals for the next few months. And it’s really only one goal: further the discussion about Grafton’s sustainability. And that’s going to happen over the course of the next six weeks.
PG: What would you like to say to anyone reading this?
EP: Just to remind people that, as Bill Clinton once said, we campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Campaigning is different from governing, and it involves work that happens behind the scenes and beneath the surface. And that work is taking place. It’s going to be a long three years. Let’s keep our eyes on the big picture.
PG: Do you think it’s weird that you interviewed yourself?
EP: Honestly, a little. But hey…. let your freak flag fly, I always say.