- Name: Thomas Walsh
- Age: 53
- Occupation: Funeral director
- Political office: School Committee, 4 years (1998-2001); Mass. House of Representatives, 8 years (1987-1994); City Council, 4 years (At-Large, 1984-1987)
Peabody Patch: If elected to the City Council, what issue would be first priority for you? What is one area you would like to see the city devote more resources to?
Tom Walsh: My first priority will be to make sure we have a well thought out, balanced budget which will ensure that our municipal services are delivered efficiently and effectively. All the responsibilities of local government, be it education, public safety, human services or public services are predicated on sound fiscal policy. It is essential that we maintain a healthy balance between what we spend and what our revenue capacity is. In order for Peabody to enjoy a satisfactory bond rating, which enables us to borrow if necessary at low interest rates, we must be vigilant in maintaining that balance of providing necessary services without spending beyond our means. It is my belief, however, that the city should devote more resources to maintaining our public buildings and public properties. Specifically, I support the position of a facilities manager who would oversee the maintenance schedules of all our public buildings. Additionally if several major projects are pending in various departments, such as schools and the libraries, we could possibly realize cost savings by going out to bid on both projects under one request for proposal.
Patch: Peabody property taxes continue to be among the lowest in the area, along with many other fees homeowners or residents may pay in the city. Are taxpayers' getting their money's worth; is the city not spending enough to provide services, education, etc; or are Peabody taxpayers still paying too much?
Walsh: Again, there is a necessity to balance the needs of the community with its available resources. Like every homeowner’s personal budget, there is finite number with which one can operate. It is no accident that so many choose to make Peabody their home. It is affordable, which allows young families an opportunity to grow, and at the other end of the spectrum, many seniors choose Peabody because they feel safe, and they can rely on the delivery of basic government services at an affordable rate. We must be cognizant of the fact that a $96 million middle school project is about to commence, roads and sidewalks will be a continual maintenance obligation, salaries and debt obligations will be ongoing, and unforeseen costs such as a severe winter or other catastrophe may arise that put a strain on the municipal budget. Therefore, we must be prepared for the unforeseen, and be prudent when setting our spending priorities. It is not a matter of too much or too little, rather, it is a matter of what is the thoroughly thought out and responsible thing to do.
Patch: Under the current mayor's administration there has been a concentrated effort to reinvigorate "pride in Peabody," which many people in the city have rallied around. What is one thing you are proud of about Peabody?
Walsh: I am most proud of Peabody’s residents. There are so many of our neighbors who give of themselves to make life a little better for all in our community. I am especially proud that although Peabody is a city, with some city problems, it maintains the feel of a small town. Most residents will admit that they love their own neighborhood and will also tell you that they look out for their neighbors. That sense of well being is why so many who grew up here, stay here. Peabody’s residents are caring, tolerant of other’s views, and welcoming to all ethnicities as is witnessed each year at the International Festival. I am proud to be a life-long Peabody resident, and I am hopeful that that sense of pride so many of us feel for Peabody, will continue for generations to come!