At his final meeting before stepping down from the board, Selectman Jim Healy thanked his family, friends and colleagues for support during his tenure and encouraged other residents to get involved in local government.
Though helped Healy make his decision to resign before his three-year term was up, he said he did not want the incidents to deter others from running for town seats.
“I think it’s been a good run,” Healy said of his work with town government since 1993. “We were able to do some good things for the town, and I think that is an example for anyone else who wants to serve to get involved. I don’t want this incident to be something that would make people not want to serve; that would be a terrible thing.”
Next to the armed services, Healy said, “public service is the finest thing you can do as a citizen in a democratic society.”
“Go take out papers to run for the final two years of my term,” he said, speaking to the community via ’s airing of the meeting. “I encourage anyone who has ever thought they wanted to get involved to run.”
Healy said he expected to turn in his formal resignation to the town clerk’s office by Thursday of this week. Nomination papers for the position will then be drawn up so that citizens can run for the seat in the April 10 town election.
Healy’s fellow board members thanked him for his service at his last meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24 and wished him well.
“I think we’re all diminished by the events and his decision to leave the board,” said board chairman Moe Handel. “I’ve always known him to be a passionate and devoted champion for Needham and for the citizens of Needham and for the work of this board.”
Selectman Jerry Wasserman said though many people most remember the heated debates he and Healy had gotten into in the past, there were more times when they agreed.
“When you came back this time to the Board of Selectmen, people came up to me smiling and they said, ‘The fun is back,’” Wasserman said. “But the issues we debated were outnumbered by far by those where we generally agreed. […] I think those times that we have debated have helped to illuminate the issues.”
Wasserman also said he expected to hear from Healy in the future.
“We have not heard the last of Jim Healy,” he said.
Selectman John Bulian, who was first elected to the board alongside Healy in 2003, said they had had “a good experience” on the board.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in the years that we’ve been on the board together,” he said. “You’ve been a great advocate for the town.”
Selectman Dan Matthews also expressed his appreciation for Healy’s service and said he hoped Healy would be back “in some capacity."
Massachusetts State Rep. Denise Garlick also attended Tuesday’s meeting and spoke highly of the outgoing selectman. She served with Healy on the board before being elected to the House of Representatives.
Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick gave Healy a frame containing images of landmarks around town, including a photograph of the , the fields he worked to build, a ladder truck and a rendering of the , noting that she would personally deliver a photograph of the actual building once it was completed.
Healy said he had been struggling this fall to balance his duties as a selectmen with at work and a new teaching position. When someone slashed all four tires on his vehicle in December in a manner similar to incidents that occurred in May 2007 and December 2008 when he was also on the board, Healy made the decision to step down.
“The incidents that occurred to me over a period of four years, […] they clearly made an impression on me and also on my family and made it very difficult to continue to juggle things and continue to make time when, to a certain extent, I was putting my family and myself in harm’s way,” he said. “I think everybody needs to serve, needs to give back, but you also need to look into if what you’re doing is meaningful for yourself as well as your family.”
Needham residents interested in running for Healy’s seat, or for one of the other two selectmen’s seats that are up this spring, can visit the town clerk’s office to . The last day to file nomination papers with the Board of Registrars is Tuesday, Feb. 22.