Support Ashleigh Blake and Don Lowe… We need them in office


Citizen News, Letter to Editor, October 21, 2015.

To the Editor:

We have a very important election coming in
Sherman this year and voters should think long and
hard about who they support. Forget which
candidates are Democrats and which are
Republicans and focus on which individuals have
the work and life experiences necessary to lead our
town. Don Lowe and Ashleigh Blake are deeply
committed to shaping Sherman’s future. They are
both super organized and can get things done. For
the past four years Sherman has survived without
true leadership and it has put us in a real hole. Clay
Cope is a very nice person but in my opinion based
on his record of inaction he is a very poor leader.
Leadership is much more than a nice smile and
friendly chit~chat. Our town is at a crossroads and
needs real leadership! Here are a few of the traits I
feel make someone a good leader and why I feel
Clay doesn’t match up:

Decisiveness – leaders must make tough decisions
staying within the guidelines set forth by the town.
It goes with the job. They understand that in certain
situations, difficult and timely decisions must be
made. Decisions which require a firmness, authority,
and finality that may not please everyone. Real
leaders don’t hesitate in such situations and they
play by the rules. They also know when not to act
unilaterally but instead foster collaborative decision
making. Clay has proven to be indecisive time after time. In my opinion he has clearly shown us he is incapable of putting cohesive thoughts and processes together to solve our issues/problems. It’s
always a delayed decision involving numerous other parties and advisers and key decisions continue to drag on and get put off to a future date. At some point a strong leader knows they have enough
information to make a decision and they do so. An overwhelmed individual trying to please everyone will just keep waiting and waiting until the decision makes itself. Abstaining from voting on senior
housing Clay? Really? You had no opinion on this
important subject or you just wanted others to make
the decision you can’t make? I saw in one of Clay’s
recent articles where he was taking credit for a “well
written RFP for the farm”. We all know that process
took far longer than it should have, involved
numerous outside distractions, and suffered from not
only a lack of a sense of urgency but a lack of
process understanding, organization and clear
direction… and it was a year late! This costs all of
us money.

Accountability – Leaders take responsibility for
everyone’s performance, including their own. They
follow up on all outstanding issues, check in on
employees, and monitor the effectiveness of policies
and procedures. When things are going well, they
praise. When problems arise, they identify them
quickly, seek solutions, and get things back on track.
They evaluate, act, and then move briskly to the
next task at hand. Do you remember when Clay sat
over the town vote to purchase that heavy
machinery… all the time not telling anyone that he
had already exceeded his authority and purchased it
prior to the vote? Once the possible expenditure was
voted down by the town as a “poor use of town
funds” Clay was forced to admit he had already
jumped the gun, exceeded his authority and bought
the equipment. He then had no alternative but to run
back to the vendor and hope to return it. What
happened there Clay? Forgot the rules? Blatantly
disregarded them? Or maybe just you didn’t know
the correct process in the first place? That was
totally unacceptable!

Focused – Leaders are organized and plan ahead.
They think through multiple scenarios and the
possible impacts of their decisions, while
considering viable alternatives and making plans
and strategies all targeted toward success. Once
prepared, they establish strategies, processes, and
routines so that high performance is tangible, easily
defined, and monitored. They have contingency
plans in place in the event that last-minute changes
require a new direction. The first selectman’s job
isn’t an easy one. Some tough decisions have to be
made and made quickly. This means you can’t
please everyone all of the time. If you spend all of
your time thinking more about trying to have
everyone like you and please everyone you can’t
make the tough decisions and tackle our town’s
issues. While you are living in your Facebook world,
we are all living here. In looking at Don Lowe and
Ashleigh Blake’s records of service, I see in them the
focus and organizational skills that Sherman really
needs. These are two highly focused, supremely
capable individuals who have shown their
dedication to our town by serving/volunteering/excelling on numerous
committees, boards, and offices. They both have
demonstrated through their actions they can think
long term, and still make the tough decisions

Inspirational – A leader is someone who
communicates their vision clearly, concisely, and
often, and by doing so motivates everyone to give
his or her best all the time. They set examples and
then challenge their people by setting high but
attainable standards and expectations, and then
giving them the support, tools, training, and latitude
to pursue those goals and become the best people
they can possibly be. Almost four years after
coming into office I’m still waiting for Clay to
attend one of our Sherman Land Acquisition Fund
Advisory Board meetings (of which I am a board
member) to tell us his vision- for the fund and its
future. I guess it’s just not important enough for his
attention? Or maybe he doesn’t have a vision or any
ideas for the operation of the fund and is afraid to
address the board head on? So where do you stand
on the fund Clay? What is your plan either to fund it
or dissolve it? You have many town volunteers
meeting with no funding to do anything, worse yet,
no direction from the town’s top office. Why not
address this issue and tell the town how you really
feel about the SLAFAB and why you’ve been too
busy for the last four years to show up for even one
a meeting? I suspect you are simply pushing this
responsibility to the next administration? Don Lowe
‘was instrumental in putting that important board
together from its inception. He provided the vision
and clear direction on what his expectations were
and what the board should be working on. That
vision still survives in our board based on the
remaining memories of when our past town
selectmen who tackled issues head on and actually
planned for the future. Don has already shown the
town his leadership skills and his vision. Ashleigh
has shown she can handle numerous important tasks
at once and can make the difficult decisions to move
things ahead.

Four years later Clay has not provided us with an
actionable plan for Sherman’s path forward (not
having a plan isn’t a plan). I’d like to put two real
leaders with the right pedigrees for the job into
office. Don Lowe and Ashleigh Blake have proven
track records and the organizational and leadership
skills to address our current and future problems
head on. They can make the tough decisions that
need to be made in a timely fashion. Let’s put the
capable people with the real vision in our town’s
highest offices next year. Vote for the people you
know can do the best job for our town and that will
lead you to casting your ballot for Don Lowe and
Ashleigh Blake!

Al Kenney,