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Candidate Profiles: Ferdinand Looks To Make A Difference, Leave A Legacy

Feb 08, 2018 04:11PM ● By Bill Gilman

George Ferdinand is running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen.

George Ferdinand doesn't see himself as a life-long public servant. He says his goal is to serve, make a lasting difference, and hand off the leadership baton to another resident looking to do the same.
With that in mind, the candidate for Tewksbury Board of Selectmen is making just one firm promise to voters.
"If I'm fortunate enough to get elected, I won't serve any more than two terms," said Ferdinand. "I think it's good to get new people involved."
Ferdinand has become a familiar face to Tewksbury voters in recent years. He ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat on the Planning Board, in 2015 but followed up by winning a seat on the Board of Health in 2016.
He admitted he has learned a great deal about the workings of Tewksbury town government over the past two years.
"The wheels of government move slow," he said, with a smile. "I guess i learned that it takes a little longer than you'd like to get things done."
That said, Ferdinand said he's been proud of what the BOH has accomplished over the past two years. At the top of the list is a comprehensive bylaw regarding the care and upkeep of so-called "backyard farm animals," such as chickens, goats, etc.
"We started out just looking at 'free range' chickens but then it kind of grew into all backyard animals," he said. "We just signed it."
Prior to passage of the new bylaw, the rules regarding backyard animals had been limited and ambiguous.
Ferdinand said the BOH has functioned well because no one on the board has tried to dictate direction or policy. Rather, each of the members brings different strengths and progressional background, which compliment each other, he said.
Ferdinand grew up in greater Boston and graduated from Wilmington High School. He moved to Michigan, where he began a long career in the automotive manufacturing industry. It was there he became active with his local UAW union and eventually was elected as alternate shop steward.
He returned to the Merrimack Valley in 2014, settling down in Tewksbury. A short time later he married his wife, Patty.
In addition to his elected position on the Board of Health, Ferdinand was also named to the Visioning Committee by the Board of Selectmen.  He said his his time on the Visioning Committee has been enlightening. Through community meetings and surveys, he said he has a much clearer idea of what Tewksbury residents would like to see their town government focusing on in the next decade. He said one reason he is running for the Board of Selectmen is to make sure the priorities outlined are followed through on.
"I don't want to see it just die," he said.
Tewksbury has many projects at various stages of development, including the new Central Fire Station, the Regional Dispatch facility and, down the road, a new elementary school. But Ferdinand believes the biggest challenge and top priority facing the town will be the completion of the Route 38 improvements.
"I think that's the biggest challenge, just because it can't be done all at once," he said. "It's a big project that will take several years and a lot of resources."
Ferdinand believes he not only has the experience but also the temperament to serve as an effective selectman. He cited his experience in contract negotiations with the UAW and his willingness to find win/win solutions.
"It may be a dirty word, but compromise," he said. "When you go into a meeting, both sides need to come out with something for their constituents."
He also touts his affable personality and ability to build consensus.
"You have to be able to laugh,"You have to realize, this isn't all about me, not even close."
Ferdinand said he is the type of person who asks a lot of questions, learns as much as possible about a particular issue and will ask if there is a way to do something better, rather than to accept the status quo.
Ferdinand said he believes town government in Tewksbury works well for residents but that "there is always room for improvement."
One position he would like to see added is a full-time grant writer.
"I think it would be cost-effective and would help all the departments," he said.
There are two seats up for grabs on the Board of Selectmen on the April 7 ballot. At present, Ferdinand, Brian Dick and incumbent Mark Kratman are the only declared candidates.
The last day for candidates to file their nomination papers is Tuesday, Feb. 20  before 5 p.m., at the Town Clerk’s Office. Fifty (50) valid registered Tewksbury voter’s signatures and addresses are required. 

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