On March 10, Board of Selectman candidates Ryan Chamberland and Tanya Polak organized a virtual town hall to take in questions directly from residents. The virtual town hall was hosted on Zoom by Blackstone Community Group administrator Kate Donovan. Announced on Facebook last week, the two candidates teamed up to organize a virtual town hall as part of their own individual campaigns with the purpose of allowing the community a forum where they can comfortably submit questions in person or anonymously.
Some people on Facebook were initially confused thinking this is a candidate debate, wondering why Kate only invited two candidates instead of four. Tanya Polak clarified on Facebook that “it’s not Kate’s event; our respective campaigns requested to use her zoom account and platform to host this event so it is both mine and Ryan’s. Campaign sponsored events are not required to include their opponents.“
To start the virtual town hall, Tanya discussed the rules of engagement and town hall agenda below.
Who are the candidates?
The two candidates introduced themselves.
Questions from the Blackstone Community
There were a lot of questions from the community, we’ve collected some highlights below.
On Transparency: What will you change to become more transparent?
On Nepotism: We seem to have a lot of nepotism in the town. Do you feel we have too much nepotism? And, would you start vetting people based on qualifications vs familial status?
The town charter: How important is it to update the town charter?
Involvement in town employee issues: What is your feeling with the Board of Selectman in getting involved in a granular level with employee issues?
Watch the full video
There were a lot of questions from other Blackstone residents not just the ones highlighted above. We saw about 30 users logged in on Zoom at one point. Watch the virtual Town Hall video in full below:
During the virtual town hall though, Facebook community groups were rocked with questions as to why a candidate was removed from the zoom session.
Tanya Polak quickly addressed the issue on the Facebook groups:
Allow me to address this issue as it has nothing to do with transparency as you are claiming. It was our decision to not allow our opponents in as it was a campaign event. I’m unsure why you feel that the time and effort I personally spent in organizing and socializing this automatically warrants an invitation to attend when the purpose was to get to know me and ask me questions. Your presence would have been a political stunt and would have detracted from the participants ability to ask questions.
I’d love an example of a political town hall event sponsored by a specific candidates campaign that invited their opponents because I have yet to see that happen given that it is not a debate. If this was an in person event, the same standard would have held true.
Additionally, we get to ask 2 questions each at the debate on the 22nd; it would not have been fair for him to get to ask me questions at this event tonight while I haven’t been afforded the same courtesy. He has not been willing to answer any questions thus far on Facebook or an open forum about his plans which is eerily reminiscent of the recall attempts some months ago.
The answer has been “wait until the debate” so I felt it was well within my right to do this tonight to make sure the focus was on the people of the town asking me questions and finding out more about my platform. So I will give my opponent want he asked for and look forward to answering his questions on Candidates Night on March 22nd.
With the 2021 Annual Town Elections coming up, make sure you know who the candidates are. If you have questions, get in touch with them! The other two candidates for Board of Selectman have not organized a virtual town hall as of this writing but you can get in touch with them separately: Dan Keefe will be at Betty’s Donuts every Sunday 10AM to 11AM, Ryan Barry can be contacted online and is free to meet with people once you contact him. We’ve also posted all the 2021 Blackstone Annual Town Election candidates contact information on the link below.
Don’t miss the Candidate Night on March 22!