Firefighter paramedic; a newcomer’s perspective
Ed Moussouris. (Courtesy photo)
Board of Selectmen candidate Edward Moussouris of Park Lane moved to Harvard two and a half years ago with his wife and two daughters of elementary school age. Drawn here by the schools and athletic programs, particularly crew, Moussouris says he enjoys the “great feel” of Harvard. This winter he volunteered as a basketball coach, and this spring he hopes to coach soccer. When he is not working as a permanent firefighter and paramedic with the Hopedale Fire Department, Moussouris enjoys playing guitar and piano, scuba diving, and sailing. He especially enjoyed the opportunity to keep a sailboat on Bare Hill Pond last summer and hopes to do it again this year.
Q: How would your presence as a selectman contribute to the work of the board?
A: I have done many things over my career: I used to do corporate work and had to reinvent myself as a firefighter paramedic. I have been on many boards. I have a knack for communication in groups and organizations. I have a good understanding of how these groups and meetings are set up, and I would add a lot of new ideas as well as a fresh, positive attitude and influence on other board members. I have a knack for community.
Q: What are the three most important issues the selectmen will face during your three-year term, and what would be your priorities, including spending, for dealing with them?
A: Harvard is famous for its school system, and the schools are going to be something we are always looking at, because we want to keep our kids in the right kind of school environment so they have good futures and so the town can attract younger families to keep it where we need to be population-wise. It’s a very alive town because of the school system. Money will always be allocated toward making the schools better and keeping them modern ... Second, I would like to see more focus on emergency medical services in town. I know they’ve talked about a medical coordinator to work with the Fire Department, and I love how the school kids can work as emergency medical technicians. I’ve been an EMT since 1993; it’s a great thing for a student in high school to learn about that stuff. I know there are not a lot of medical emergencies or fires these days, since this is a small town, but I know we’re at risk ... I am very interested in helping whoever the coordinator is so the town is safer. Where I work, we have an excellent paramedic system with [full-time firefighters and staff]. In Harvard, there is a delay. I would like to see some money allocated toward that. It puts the elderly at risk, not having a quicker paramedic system. I am very passionate about this because it is what I do now. There is a new push in the state to start community paramedicine programs, where paramedics go door to door, almost like doctor visits in the old days. Harvard would be a good place to start that kind of program. The third thing I would like to see is money allocated toward all the great events the town sponsors, such as the fall festival and the Fourth of July. Those community things are great.
Q: What are your thoughts on the changes to town government being considered by the Charter Commission?
A. I read up on that recently, and once I get in I’d like to find out how other board members feel. I am open to changes that are in the best interest of the town.
Q: What work needs to be done to decide whether the town should resume jurisdiction for Devens?
A: For tax purposes it may bring some good revenue to the town. We are already doing a lot of work with kids in our school system, so it may be something we can think about. Obviously, on April 4 voters will help decide. No matter how it goes I will be willing to work with the board to go forward.
Q: What steps should be taken to develop the commercial district?
A: So long as it’s done in good taste, there’s a way to grow pretty much anything on that commercial road to Ayer. If you go and look at other towns, you can tell their selectmen were not involved or did not care how the town looked. There’s banners in the center of those towns that shouldn’t be there; after 10 or 20 years the signs look pretty bad, and some looked bad initially. Right now everything in Harvard looks pretty nice; that’s one of the things I like about it. We will always need more commercial property assistance, as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s property rights and is in good taste.
Q: The Board of Selectmen has been criticized for being polarized. What would you do to make it a more collaborative committee?
A: I am usually the one they send to take care of hard jobs. I am good at helping people come to common ground. I could be a good liaison to other groups from the board; it would be one of my specialties. The board has its own agenda, but there’s a time and a place to coordinate with other groups. If you are having issues, sometimes there’s reasons for that. But I’ve cracked some good nuts over the years. Often a simple conversation can fix bad feelings or disagreements.
Q: What would you do to make the work of the town administrator and professional staff more transparent and accountable?
A: I would have an open door policy for anybody. If someone had questions, we would answer them to the best of our ability or get back with them in an appropriate time frame. I understand certain things can’t be talked about at certain times. It all comes down to ethics. I always want to do the ethical thing. If there are mistakes, they have to be corrected.
Q: Is there anything else you would like the community to know about you that we forgot to ask?
A: I am very excited to have the opportunity to run for selectman. Even though I’ve been in town for a short period, I feel a great connection to the town. I would be a good representative as one of the young families coming into town. It’s good for the board to have different points of view from different generations; you get the wisdom and experience mixing together, and it makes for a strong unit.