A Q&A with Warrant Committee member Kevin Cherry
On Warrant Committee diversity
By Doug Scibeck, Milton Scene staff.
Before one of the Warrant Committee meetings someone mentioned they heard a comment regarding the Milton Access TV coverage of the meetings that the committee lacked diversity. This certainly is up for debate but I have had the privilege of serving alongside dedicated men and women of the town on the committee. I am glad to say one person who made significant contributions is Kevin Cherry.
Kevin, who happens to be one of the two African Americans on the warrant committee, is not new to community service. Sitting down in one of the reading rooms of the library we chatted about his experience on the committee. (Yes, we talked in the library. We are both astounded by all the facility offers and remained respectful of other patrons. It made a great backdrop to thoughts of public service.)
Having served as budget director for Boston Public Schools, an executive at the South End Community Health Center, and now working as interim financial director for a Catholic school, Kevin contributes much experience and insight to the town’s budget process with his work as a financial management consultant.
Q: This is your first year on the Warrant Committee. What brought you to the committee?
KC: Yes, it’s the first year I have done this but I have served on other boards before. Mike Breen is a friend of mine and fellow BC High grad, he asked if I would think about getting involved. That led to me talking with Bob Hiss [Town Moderator] and eventually I was appointed. The appointment was the chance to learn how the town functions, how resources are allocated, and to meet the leaders of the town.
Q: Working with you on the committee I saw all the contributions you made with insightful comments and questions that got to the heart of matters, what would you say you are most proud of about your contributions?
KC: As I always say, you will get out of it as much as you put into it. I read through the materials and worked to be as prepared as possible. I asked good questions to learn about the different departments. I think as a group we were well prepared. We have a lot to be proud of.
Q: Is there anything you think we could have done better?
KC: Perhaps we could have documented the process better. Documenting what is expected of members would be helpful to new members in the future. I like that there were several members who were there previously. That helped a lot. I think it is also important to also have new members who can bring new insights. It was not always clear what was being asked of us new people. It could be more detailed. George Ashur [Warrant Committee Chairman] did a great job organizing and keeping things moving. It was his first year, too.
Q: So your first year went well?
KC: I loved the experience. I would recommend it.
Q: It was mentioned that the committee did not seem very diverse. Any thoughts?
KC: I was at every meeting. I saw the people working hard and think it is a diverse body. The make up of the committee is important. We had diversity of thought and people.
Q: The Board of Selectmen are changing. Do you think this will affect the Warrant Committee?
KC: We have a strong Town Administrator now. Michael Dennehy was a great help to the committee. He and Amy Dexter [Town Accountant] put together the budget for us to review and provided all the needed information. That made the process easier. I think the relations between the Warrant Committee and the Town Administrator will be better. The TA will offer advice and answer questions so the relationship will strengthen, making the financial responsibility even better.
I appreciate the chance to sit down with Kevin outside the committee to get his insights. His efforts, along with George Ashur and the rest of the committee, deserve I hope his example inspires others to consider community service.
My last question to Kevin was is he looking forward to Town Meeting. He answered, “I am looking forward to it. It will be good to gauge the response to the committee for the work we do. It gives a sense of how the town appreciates the work. It can be an affirmation. And we will see if the community supports our decisions.”