TRURO — At least three challengers plan to run for the two select board seats on Truro’s May 14 ballot this year — Susan Girard-Irwin, Kevin Grunwald, and Nancy Medoff.
Select board member John Dundas and chair Kristen Reed both said they are still deciding whether to run for reelection. Nomination papers are due to the town clerk on March 26.
Grunwald is chair of the Truro Housing Authority, is a member of the council on aging board, and has been the town’s representative to the Cape Cod Commission for 11 years. He said the fundamental issue facing Truro right now is one he’s noticed in conversations around town: mistrust of town government.
“We really need to restore trust in local government,” Grunwald said. “Why that’s been lost I’m not entirely sure, but I feel like that’s really an impediment to getting anything done.”
Grunwald worked as a social worker for more than 40 years with a focus on mediation, which he said will help him calm the clashes in town politics.
Medoff is chair of the charter review committee, vice chair of the economic development committee, and a member of the zoning board of appeals. She said the answer to divisiveness in town politics is a combination of “leadership, communication, and strategic thinking.” Her 30 years in the corporate world have equipped her to lead the town forward, she said.
“Rebuilding the community means understanding that different opinions are healthy, not a bad thing,” said Medoff.
Girard-Irwin moved to Truro in 2019 and is cochair of the open space committee, vice chair of the council on aging board, and the open space committee’s representative on the community preservation committee. After she moved here, she said, “the needs of the COA and, more so, the seniors that the COA supports became my driving force.”
Girard-Irwin, who said she has “never lost an election” (she won a bid for class historian at her New Jersey high school in 1975), is also a board-certified toxicologist. She said that her work as a scientist helps her make decisions based on evidence.
“I’m really good at listening and figuring out what people need,” Girard-Irwin said.
Reed, the incumbent select board chair whose current term expires this spring, said she was deeply concerned about disinformation. “Disagreeing isn’t the problem,” she said. “Sophistry is the problem.”
Whether she will run again depends on a number of factors, Reed said. “It costs me so much money to be a selectman,” she said. “I work so hard, and those are not billable hours.”
Also, Reed said she hasn’t yet decided “because I have not done ceremony around it.” In 2021, she said, when deciding whether to run for a second term on the board, Reed flew to Washington, D.C. and sat on the ground at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s grave.
“We were sitting there, Ruth and I, looking over D.C.,” Reed said, “and I realized I have to run again, so women have a place to stand.”
Now, “Truro is experiencing growth pains from being a nature preserve for owners of second homes,” said Reed, a self-described “lightning rod.”
“Whatever side of the dais I’m on, I’m going to be fighting for the same things,” she added.
Asked about the most important issue facing Truro, incumbent John Dundas said that “public safety is our essential task.”
If reelected, his list of priorities would include “public safety to protect the taxpayers and citizens; free enterprise; water and our neighbors; complete the Cloverleaf and employee housing efforts; and set the conditions to guarantee our town’s future success,” he said.
Policies and Priorities
Girard-Irwin said her priorities include advocating for affordable housing development. She is in favor of the current housing proposal for the Walsh property — including the “pared-back,” phased approach.
She’s also passionate about bridging the generational divide in town. “We really need to focus on loneliness of the older population,” she said.
Girard-Irwin began volunteering with the Truro Community Kitchen at the onset of the pandemic. She was startled by the degree of food insecurity here, she said — especially when pandemic restrictions eased but the community’s need did not.
Medoff said she wants to focus on common ground rather than policy stances. “There are housing needs, there are infrastructure needs,” she said. “I think that it’s not a matter of no development or super-development. There’s an in-between, a common ground.
“Part-time residents should have a voice, too,” she said.
Medoff is one of the three remaining voters in town whose registration has been challenged, with a hearing to take place in the coming weeks. Jon Slater’s challenge to her registration, she said, is a “thinly veiled Machiavellian chess move in a game that no one else is playing.” She is unwavering in saying that Truro is her home.
Grunwald blamed a proliferation of misinformation as the source of government mistrust. In order to combat the spread of falsehoods, “I think we all have a job to address this information when it emerges,” he said.
Grunwald was first drawn to Truro by its natural beauty. “What’s important to me is to look at those values we share and think about how we can get past the things dividing us right now,” he said.
Grunwald said that, if elected, he would draw his priorities from his time on the Truro Housing Authority. “I certainly think housing is a critical issue facing the entire Cape, but Truro in particular,” he said.
Wastewater and clean drinking water are also important policy issues, Grunwald said. “To be able to address those, people need to be able to trust their leaders,” he said.