by Barbara VanReed
Brian A. Chenevert hasn’t run for public office before, but he’s thrown his hat in the ring as a candidate for selectman in the upcoming town election. That’s not to say he’s not active in town activities. He’s very much involved as a member of the Friends of the Webster School Committee for the Park Ave. Elementary School. He coaches the U12 and U16 girls’ soccer teams, as well as youth basketball and T-Ball in the summer. He’s also active in United Way programs.
Mr. Chenevert was born and raised in Webster, attended the St. Louis School and graduated from Bartlett High School. He went on to Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, NH, and received a degree in marketing. He then spent four years in Virginia, three in Connecticut, and moved back to Webster in 2000. His wife Allison is a teacher’s assistant in the Webster Middle School, and their three children are 15, 14, and 11.
In his professional life, Mr. Chenevert, 37, is a disability claims manager for Unum, the large, national disability insurer, in its Worcester office. He talks with people all over the country, many of them in serious life crises. "From a business perspective they are at the top of their game, usually Type A personalities, people wrapped up in their job, like doctors, and suddenly they are disabled," he said, and it’s clear that he sympathizes with their situations.
Mr. Chenevert’s father Norman, who passed away in December, was a well known figure in town, a member and former captain of the Webster Police Department Auxiliary for 32 years and a member of the Webster Ambulance Squad. His Dad always told him, "Don’t talk, do." And that’s what is inspiring him to run for the selectman’s position. He had actually considered running for school committee, but his involvement with the Friends precluded that. He has big shoes to fill, he said.
He has contemplated this run for several years, and when he’s mentioned it to people, they are always encouraging. In fact, Bob Miller, who himself is running for the selectman’s post, also urged him to do it.
"I’m with groups of people three or four times a week, and I hear their complaints. I’m learning a lot about what you need to do."
His number one priority is education. He has two kids in the elementary school, and the school is an embarrassment, he said. One of its shortcomings is in technology, he explained. "There are a lot of underprivileged kids in the school, who don’t have access to technology at home." He’s hopeful that the Park Ave. School project will be approved by town meeting in June. The Massachusetts School Building Authority still has to give its final approval, but that should be forthcoming, he said.
Mr. Chenevert talked about a divided Webster. "I’ve heard us called a mini-Worcester." He refers to the broken down, nuisance properties, and approves of what the Board of Selectmen has been doing. He strongly supports the downtown revitalization efforts. "We can’t draw business into town if it looks like a dump. We need to push landlords and owners to clean up their properties."
"Webster is really two communities, there’s the wealthy community on Upper Gore and the Lake, and then there’s Precinct 1 in downtown Webster, which gets no representation." He has visited with the North Village public housing authority. There were people there who were not even aware that they can vote for town officers, he said, and he has encouraged them to register to vote. His goal as selectman would be to see that more people have their voices heard.
His thoughts on some of the hot-button topics in town: he’s "not a fan of the billboard on I-395. We’re part of the green valley, and we don’t need Las Vegas-style billboards." He’s torn on the paddle wheeler boat. "It’s a great idea in theory, to give people access to the Lake, the biggest asset we have in town. It would be great for senior tours. But the size and scope is too big, and the liquor license was not a good idea."
Commenting on the recent furor caused by the Board of Health’s decision to lower the age limit for legal tattooing to 14, he said "I haven’t talked with anyone who agreed with it. If they know it (illegal tattooing) is going on, they should be going after that. But it’s a tough call, like underage drinking."
Mr. Chenevert is a big proponent of solar energy. He’d like to see unusable town land leased for solar projects. He would have liked to have seen more renewable energy aspects included in the Park Avenue School design.
Mr. Chenevert said he’s running for a purpose. "I’d like to win. But if it gets 30 or 40 people to vote in an election for the first time, that’s a victory for me."
- Wednesday, 11 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Letter From the Editor