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Indian Americans In Burlington Talk To Town Candidates

Anil Saigal

Rita and Rajesh Shah hosted a lunch on Saturday, March 20th to facilitate an open discussion with the four candidates from the Town of Burlington who are running for reelection for various elected positions. The Indian American community in Burlington had an opportunity to hear from the incumbents about their future plans so that the voters can make a better choice as they vote at the Town of Burlington elections on April 3 2004. Selectman candidates Kevin McKelvey and Juliet Perduchizzi and School Committee candidates Christine Monaco and Tom Murphy were present. Burlington Community members including S. Bilimoria, D. Furia, F. Khan, Anjali Patel, Arvind Patel, A. Saigal, Rajesh Shah, C.K. Shah, S. Shankar and R. Voruganti were present.

Syamal Chaudhuri, Superintendent, Burlington DPW, welcomed the candidates and introduced them formally. “There are approximately 3800 Indians in the town of about 22,800 residents. There are about 586 registered Indian American voters who can play a significant role in town elections” said Chaudhuri.

Selectman candidates presented their plans for the town. Kevin McKelvey is serving his second term as Selectmen and currently works as Deputy Finance and Accounting Officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “My goal is to continue working to preserve our quality of life and make Burlington an even better place to live. Fundamental to achieving this is our finances, improving our infrastructure and schools, developing more affordable housing and keeping a lid on taxes” said McKelvey. He plans to continue to work on improving the conditions in the schools and other issues such as affordable housing and the environment. McKelvey had heard Rita Shah talk about Saheli and its mission at the last Republic Day. Based on her considerable experience with Saheli, he recruited her to the Burlington Alcohol and Drug Task Force. His ideas for the future include a “State of the Town” annual assembly; “Quarterly Public Forums with the Town Administrator and School Superintendent” for information sharing on Town projects, programs and finances and solicitation of community involvement from the residents; and, establishing a Central Clearing House at the local Library for news and information and activities related to the Indian community”. Juliet Perduchizzi has served as a Selectman for the past 7 years. She has served on numerous committees including DPW, Conservation and Police and Fire. She has also served as a Girls Scout Leader, Foxhill School Council, and Board of Burlington Youth Soccer amongst others. Her future priorities include improved roads and improving the financial health of the town. Both the candidates talked about the importance of providing quality services in a cost effective manner.

Christine Monaco has been a School Committee member for a total of 15 years including the last 12 years. She was part of the team that introduced the various new support systems that have been developed in the recent past including homework clinics and SAT preparation programs. Last year 100% of the students in Burlington passed the MCAS exam and 89% went on to attend college. Her major emphasis to will be make sure that the Burlington Schools continue to provide top quality education. Also she will work hard to make sure the schools do not become overcrowded once the 900 apartments that are currently under construction are occupied. Tom Murphy said he is running for reelection because he strongly believes that “without education, we are not going anywhere as a community.” He feels that Burlington is keeping up with the trends in educations and as a committee member he assures us that he will make sure that the School Committee is willing and able to do what needs to be done to stay ahead of the curve. Both the school committee members spoke passionately about their involvement in schools.

Syamal emphasized the need to support these candidates who have done so much for the town and have supported the Indian American community when needed. There was a question answer session that dealt with a wide range of issues including the future plans to renovate the schools, town debt, partnering with industry and other issues.

Finally, they talked about the availability of the Carpenter House. If the Indian American community is interested, i the Burlington Housing Association has offered to work with us to make it available to provide temporary housing for new Indian American residents in town.

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