The selectmen’s race got a little more interesting last week when Marc P. Finneran of Trotting Park Road, Teaticket, an outspoken critic of town government, pulled nomination papers.
He joins an already crowded field that includes incumbents Mary (Pat) Flynn and David Braga, as well as challengers Sheryl A. Kozens-Long of Galleon Drive, East Falmouth, and school committee chairman Rebecca Moffitt of Worcester Court, Falmouth.
This morning Mr. Finneran said he is still not certain whether he will indeed run. “I’m not 100 percent sure,” he said. “If you asked me last year or two years ago whether I’d do this, my answer would be absolutely no. It’s kind of evolved to this point.”
He said that evolution has to do with his dissatisfaction with local government. “A lot of people have a dislike of what is going on,” he said. “The town has some serious issues. It is a perfect combination of incompetence and corruption, and there is no accountability... By no means do we have an exemplary form of government.”
If he does decide to run several public officials acknowledged Mr. Finneran’s presence could spice up the May election.
Mr. Finneran has long been judgmental of Falmouth’s local government as witnessed by a sign he posted on his front porch roughly six years ago that read “Town Hall Needs An Enema!” in response to what he believed to be a zoning infraction on Trotting Park Road that he claimed was unfairly permitted by Falmouth Building Commissioner Eladio R. Gore. After he posted several signs in his yard critical of town hall that were removed by public officials because they violated zoning laws, he opted for putting one on his porch that expressed his thoughts in succinct terms.
He has also been active at Town Meeting, putting forward several petitioners articles, some of which have been controversial, including one in which he asked the town to opt out of the Community Preservation Act and another asking to audit the Department of Public Works. Neither of those passed.
The town has some serious issues. It is a perfect combination of incompetence and corruption, and there is no accountability.
The DPW has been a favorite target of his. He has complained about its management, levying criticism of director Raymond A. Jack that nearly touched off a scuffle at a selectmen’s meeting this past September. Mr. Finneran went so far as to file assault charges against Mr. Jack, which were later dismissed by a clerk magistrate at Falmouth District Court who found there was no cause to proceed.
Although he has never run for selectman, Mr. Finneran may have had some influence in the May 2010 election when, at a public meeting, he accused then-board member Carey M. Murphy of improperly accepting gifts. It led to a shouting match between the two.
By the time the state ethics commission ruled Mr. Murphy had not committed any violations after investigating Mr. Finneran’s complaints, he had lost his bid for reelection.
Finneran's Impact On The Election
As to what impact Mr. Finneran could have as a candidate has yet to be seen although Selectman Brent V.W. Putnam said, “it could be a very interesting election.”
Despite the controversy Mr. Finneran has stirred up in the past, Mr. Putnam defended him, saying, “I’ve had coffee with him a few times. A lot of people underestimate how smart he really is.”
And he noted that there are those in town who have a high opinion of Mr. Finneran. “Some people might look at him more as a hell-raiser than a leader,” he said.
He noted that when Mr. Finneran was initially appointed by selectmen to the town manager screening committee in March 2011, “several folks thanked me for putting Marc on there. A lot of people really do look at Marc as a spokesperson for their point of view. I will be interested to see how he will affect the race.”
He admitted Mr. Finneran will face the same challenges, maybe even more so, that most candidates do, particularly in raising money to pay for advertisements and signs.
Although Mr. Finneran “is a controversial figure,” Mr. Braga said, he had no issue with him joining the race. “Everyone has the First Amendment right and if this is how he feels he can get his message out more, far be it for me to criticize anybody who wants to run,” he said.
Marc Finneran: Vocal Critic of Town Government
Finneran Gets in Heated Exchange with DPW Director (September 2012)
Finneran Accuses Raymond Jack of Incompetence (January 2012)
Regardless of what one thinks of Mr. Finneran’s views and how he communicates them, Mr. Braga said, “he is very active” in town government.
“Whether you agree with his point or not at least he is active in town government,” Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen Kevin E. Murphy said, in agreement.
Town Clerk Michael C. Palmer said Mr. Finneran made the first step to join the selectmen’s race on Friday, doing so by signing his intentions to do so in green pen. The color is significant, Mr. Palmer said, because “everything he writes is in green ink. How do I know? It is hard to copy. Unless you have a color copier it doesn’t copy well in black and white.”
Mr. Palmer continued, saying that if Mr. Finneran is serious about running, he could bring that level of difficulty to those he is squaring off against. “I don’t know if he did this just to get a rise out of people,” Mr. Palmer said. “If he is serious, I guess you would see how much people support him. I know there is a select group of people feeding him information. Some of the things he says are legit, but some are off the wall.”
Whether one agrees or disagrees with his message or tactics, Mr. Finneran said he is passionate about what occurs in local government, noting his attendance at selectmen’s meetings, where he is consistently found in the back of the meeting room, typically observing and sometimes getting up to question town officials. “When is the last time you didn’t see me there on a Monday?” he asked.