The Item has kept to its pledge of not endorsing candidates for election outright. But there are also times where it’s important to acknowledge a candidate’s lifelong work on behalf of a community.
We do this today with Mark Cullinan, who is a candidate in today’s special election for a position on the Nahant Board of Selectmen. David Wilson opposes him.
Cullinan has dedicated a good part of his life to the Town of Nahant. He spent 17 years as Town Administrator before stepping down in 2011. Since he left the post, the town has had two acting Town Administrators and three permanent. Such a lack of continuity at the top isn’t really conducive toward solving problems and addressing issues.
Cullinan has remained active even while out of office. He had helped take the lead in the town’s fight to keep Northeastern University from encroaching unduly beyond its boundaries, joining 28 residents along with a non-profit within the town in filing suit in Essex County Superior Court, alleging NU cleared an access road through a wildlife preserve without authorization.
Cullinan has always had pride in the town, and has always been willing to roll up his sleeves and get to work. He is a former Director of Planning and Construction with the state, and was also, just recently, a senior fellow with the Conservation Law Foundation.
We cannot, and will not, tell the citizens of Nahant how to vote. But what we can do is salute a person such as Cullinan who, year after year, puts the town first.
Small towns need people like Cullinan. They’re not set up to be run by professional politicians. They get their leadership from within.
And in Nahant, that’s especially true, as selectmen have broad powers as prescribed by the town charter, bylaws, and the general laws of Massachusetts. The more people who are totally invested in the town, the better it is for the town. And Cullinan is invested.
This is why the Board of Selectmen is the primary policy-making body in the town. Unlike a Town Manager or Administrator, the selectmen and selectwomen live in the town, understand the issues, and when put to the test, will be doubly sure to vote for what they consider are the interests of their neighbors.
Nahant has its share of issues, of which the aforementioned battle with Northeastern is but one. Whatever happens today, and whether Cullinan or Wilson is victorious, you can count on one thing: Mark Cullinan will take his jacket off, roll up his sleeves, and get to work doing what he does best: translate his love of, and concern about, the town into action.