© The Stoneham Independent

STONEHAM, MA - The Board of Selectmen this week handed the leadership gavel over to Anthony Wilson during an annual reorganization conducted on the heels of last week's municipal elections.

During Tuesday night's gathering in Town Hall's hearing room, the board voted 4-to-1 in favor of nominating Wilson to the leadership role, which he takes over from Selectman George Seibold.

It will be Wilson's first stint as chairman.

Veteran Selectman Caroline Colarusso, who attempted to instead elevate fellow board member Shelly MacNeill to the position, was the lone dissenter in the vote. Her bid to add MacNeill's name to the roster of candidates being considered for the post was not seconded, though MacNeill was subsequently selected to serve as vice chairman in an unanimous vote.

The traditional election of officers occurred after voters last Tuesday overwhelmingly supported the candidacy of Bonad Road resident Raymie Parker as their top choice to fill one of two selectmen seats.

Parker, who topped the ticket on her way to ousting Selectman Thomas Boussy from office, captured 282 more votes than second-place finisher Colarusso. Her new peers on Tuesday nominated the rookie selectman to serve as the board's secretary.

Colarusso, who like Parker topped the ticket in the 2015 election that first swept her into office, becomes the senior member of the board as she begins her second-term.

A historical moment

With Parker attending her first meeting, MacNeill also noted last week's election results made Stoneham history, as women now constitute a majority of the five-person board.

Since 2015, when Colarusso was elected to serve alongside former Selectman Ann Marie O'Neill, there have been at least two women sitting on Board of Selectmen. However, this week is believed to be the first time females outnumbered male representatives of the elected body.

"It's a rather historical moment. I don't know that this board has ever had a majority [of women] before," noted MacNeill.

That membership distinction could prove somewhat timely, as a Town Meeting initiative to be considered by citizens next May asks to officially change the Board of Selectmen name to a more gender-neutral title.

Specifically, Article 9 of the annual assembly seeks to petition the state Legislature to re-designate the government body to the Stoneham Select Board. Seibold first pitched the idea last fall as a way to better reflect the makeup of what is largely considered to be Stoneham's most-powerful government body.

A number of other communities, including a handful in the central and western parts of the state, have adopted similar initiatives. Last October, Wakefield became the closest Stoneham neighbor to institute the change when its Town Meeting voted to rename its Board of Selectman as the town council.

Recognition of service

Before passing over the gavel to Wilson on Tuesday night, Seibold used his last moments as chairman to thank Boussy for his six-years of service.

Though Seibold had clashed on a regular basis with the veteran board member, he credited his former colleague for his steadfast dedication to bettering the community.

"I'd like to thank Tom Boussy. He had two terms on this board and gave his heart and soul to community. We all have our ways of making Stoneham better, and he did [make it better]," said Seibold.

In a surprise victory, Boussy's two-term tenure began after he unseated popular Board of Selectman incumbent Paul Rotondi during municipal elections in 2012.

Nominated twice by his peers to serve as the board's chairman, Boussy spent much of his tenure focusing on revitalizing Stoneham Square and instituting tougher financial oversight processes and budgetary reforms.

In 2016, the veteran selectmen spearheaded local efforts to bring about the redevelopment of the old Stoneham Barbershop building in the heart of Stoneham Square through a special state-sponsored taxation initiative.

What resulted was the approval of Massachusetts' first Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan with C&S Capital Properties, which will receive $250,000 in real-estate tax breaks over a 10-year period in exchange for erecting a new four-story building in the heart of the downtown area by Honey Dew Donuts.

The new building, to include professional office spaces on its upper stores, will be anchored by the new 102-seat Stones Commonhouse and Kitchen, which should open its doors to customers later this spring. The upscale eatery will feature fine cuisine prepared by Boston Chef and Stoneham resident Patrick Campbell.

Boussy is also largely responsible for bringing the Farmer's Market to the Town Common and advocating for similar events and gatherings in the downtown area. In 2015, Food Truck Festivals of America credited the selectman with convincing the Allston-based organization to hold the North Shore's first-ever event in Stoneham.

The festival, which reportedly drew thousands of visitors to the Town Common, featured some 20 vendors and was so popular, organizers returned to the community the following year.

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