District C Candidate Q&A: Vincent Piccirilli

Vincent Piccirilli, seeks re-election as District C Town Councilor.

Tell people about your background — family, professional background, volunteering, government, activism — and how that will help you as a Town Councilor. 

Married 34 years to Anita Meiklejohn, with two sons who graduated from WHS (2010 & 2017). My full- time job is a Business Analyst with Carrier Corp. As an engineer who is process oriented and currently working as a business analyst responsible for financial planning and corporate strategy, I use the same skills that I use at work in my role as Town Councilor to manage the affairs of the Town. Over the years, I have been involved as a volunteer with many organizations in Watertown. I am currently President of the Mosesian Center for the Arts, where I have been on the Board of Directors since 2013.

The pandemic has created some trying and difficult times for residents and along with that for local government, and in other towns elected and hired officials have stepped down. Why during these challenging times did you decide to run for office? And with a robust group of candidates running in 2021, why do you think Watertown has so many people stepping forward to serve?

I am running for re-election, having served as District C Councilor since 2008. With that experience, I now take a leadership role in managing the affairs of the Town, as we successfully execute several long- term projects. Governing during COVID has been very challenging, but the Town Council has been busier than it ever was. It’s a normal progression that incumbents choose to retire, and with open seats it is normal that lots of people decide to run. It’s what I did in 2007.

Being a new town manager is difficult enough, but following such a long-term and successful Town Manager will be a tough task. What do you look for in the new manager and how will you, as a councilor, help the new Town Manager get established and be successful?

Hiring a new Manager with the right combination of leadership, communications, and financial skills will be one of the most important decisions the Town Council makes. As Town Council Vice President, Chair of the Budget & Fiscal Oversight Committee, and a member of the ad-hoc Town Manager Search Committee, I am deeply involved in the procedural and financial management of the Town and am positioned to take a leading role in the orientation of the new Town Manager.

Do you think the voters should pass the changes to the Town Charter? Explain why you feel that way.

Yes. I served on the Charter Review Committee and voted to recommend the changes that will appear on the ballot. While there was not unanimous agreement on every change, there was strong consensus on the Committee for the overall recommendations, which are a series of changes that will improve the balance of power between the Council and Manager, improve communication and outreach to residents, and improve the overall functioning of our government.

Police funding and the services provided by the Watertown Police have become a big topic of discussion. Should the funding be increased, decreased or is it just about right? And, would you like to see how the Police in Watertown operate (please explain your answer)? 

We can be very proud of what we have already accomplished here in Watertown with our Police Department, but there is always room for improvement. With the state’s Police Reform Act of December 2020, change is coming to WPD. We have started the discussion about what this means, how to improve services, and what additional resources are needed. Through this process, we can make our police department even better and more responsive to the entire community. As a member of the Public Safety Committee, I did not support any discussion to reduce the police budget, and in fact in June the Town Council voted unanimously to increase the police budget. It is obvious that to implement some aspects of police reform, additional funding will be needed, and it is the responsibility of the Police Chief to provide those detail during the normal budget process.

What issue in Watertown that might not be getting enough attention would you want to work on as a councilor, and how would you like the Town government to address the issue?

The Town Council has been working on many important issues over the last several years, which have all had robust public discussion, so I can’t think of anything new right now. My focus on the Council is to complete the plans and strategies for the projects we have underway, and implement them.

Watertown has taken a lot of steps to become more green and to address climate change. Do you think the Town has done enough, or would you like more to be done — if so what would you like to see?

While we have done a lot, we need to do more. The development of our Climate and Energy Master Plan is under way, to develop tasks and a timeline to reach our goals of 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for heating and transportation by 2050. The Council is currently working on a plan to increase Watertown’s tree canopy, to reduce our municipal solid waste by 30% by 2030, and to acquire land for open space & recreation, among other initiatives.

What is something that people may not know about you that residents would find interesting?

When I was (much) younger, I had a motorcycle and was a movie projectionist.