Paul Brodeur Candidate Profile
By: Christopher Kazarian
Last October Paul D. Brodeur of Bacon Farm Road, East Falmouth, stepped down from his post as the town’s fire chief after 34 years in the department and 13 years of those at the helm.
Next week he is looking to return to his life in civil service as he makes a bid for one of the two seats up for grabs on the Falmouth Board of Selectmen.
In recent years he has not been shy about announcing his intentions of running for the board following his retirement, which is mandated by state law for fire chiefs at the age of 65.
As to what residents can expect from him should they elect him on Tuesday, he pointed to his record over the past decade—he will be prepared and “be ready for the unexpected,” he said.
“I don’t have any special interests because in the fire department you are serving the broad socioeconomoic spectrum of the community. It is the same thing as a member of the board of selectmen, in my view... If you start getting into special interests, you can run amok.”
One quality he thinks is needed by a selectman is to be thorough, conducting as much of their work beforehand, especially in today’s society where technology allows one to be challenged almost instantly through an Internet search on one’s smart phone.
“Technology has changed everything,” he said. “People can get instantaneous information about anything and everything,” he said. “That is why it’s important you do your homework.”
If elected, Mr. Brodeur said he would make capital needs a priority, something that has continuously been deferred due to limited financing.
“You have to maintain your infrastructure,” he said, stressing that if Falmouth elects to delay these needs, they will ultimately cost more in the future.
He was adamant about beginning efforts to improve both the town’s drinking water and clean up the town’s estuaries as soon as possible. “You are not going to fix it in 20 years, but there has to be a beginning,” he said.
Of all the issues, he highlighted wastewater as “the elephant in the room” that selectmen and town officials can no longer afford to ignore.
Planning, he said, is the key for all of the town’s future projects, as he proposed selectmen come up with short-term and long-term goals, starting with three-year goals and extending those out every two years.
“We should be forecasting our needs almost through another generation,” he said.
He compared it to residents setting a personal budget, understanding long-term needs for a house, such as roof repairs, which may ultimately have to be prolonged or addressed earlier, depending on the severity of the situation and other problems that may arise.
Sense of humor important
As far as his goals for the board, Mr. Brodeur said he hoped it would be more cohesive. He was confident he could do that through his demeanor, as he is both firm in his decision-making skills, but approachable, in large part due to his sense of humor.
This often shone through in his Town Meeting PowerPoint presentations, which utilized basic clip art and unexpected noises, often that of a car engine zooming past, which became a favorite of those in attendance.
Mr. Brodeur said the ability to make others laugh is an important one, because “it helps people relax,” often reducing tension on issues that can sometimes be contentious. It also is useful for him as it tells him “where a person is coming from. Body language is 96 percent of how we communicate.”
And he has an institutional memory of the town, having been here since 1971 after serving in the United States Navy for four years. In 1976 he was hired as a Falmouth firefighter.
He was married in 1986 to Virginia Anderson, a nurse at Falmouth Hospital. Although they do not have children together, she has two, David Anderson of Yorktown, Virginia, and Melissa Romano of Sandwich, from a previous marriage.
Mr. Brodeur also focused on his financial skills, pointing out that in his 13 years as town fire chief “we were in the black.”
“I don’t have an ego. I’m not in it for the money,” he said. “I’m retired and think I can commit the time to this and I’m willing to listen.”
Public involvement essential
He also wanted board members to be less reliant on computers at their meetings, something that separates them from the public, particularly when they are referencing documents residents do not have access to.
“I think you’ve got to come to the meetings prepared, not scrolling through the computer,” he said.
This becomes even more problematic, he said, when the board starts referencing terms such as Total Maximum Daily Loads or urine-diverting toilets without providing a context or definition for those phrases.
“You have to bring it down to the average resident who is not a scientist—the regular Joe like myself,” he said.
As far as reaching the public, he said it is imperative the board rely on all forms of communication, from television to the newspaper to the Internet, including Twitter and Facebook.
It is vital to get the public involved, he said, in order to solve the town’s major issues.
“The more information you bring to the public, the better,” he said. “Don’t be like Harry S. Truman, who said, ‘If you can’t convince the public, confuse them’ and keep talking,” he said.
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