A longtime Burlington elected official is stepping away to fully enjoy retirement after more than 50 years of public service.
Planning Board member Paul Raymond announced at last Thursday’s meeting that he is stepping down. Raymond had been on the board for 32 years and before that was a Town Meeting member since 1971 when the town moved from open Town Meeting to representative Town Meeting, a change he had a hand in making.
Other members of the board praised Raymond for his many years of service to Burlington. Chair Brenda Rappaport, who officially made the announcement, said the length of time he spent on the board was “amazing.”
“Paul has been a dedicated and passionate member since April of 1990 and it truly has been a pleasure to work beside him,” she added.
Member Joe Impemba, who has been on the board for over 15 years and was in other positions prior, said the moment was bittersweet.
“I’m very sad that Paul is leaving,” he said. “I can honestly say that in the 32 years I’ve worked on the different boards in Burlington I’ve never enjoyed working with anybody more and I’ve never respected or admired anybody more than Paul. Paul has, in my opinion, served with unwavering integrity. He’s served with true values and has truly represented the people of Burlington for every year he has worked for the boards. I thank him for that and I’m going to miss him.”
BNEWS spoke with Raymond to ask about his decision to retire. He said he will be 90 years old on his next birthday and that his current five year term was up next spring so he thought he’d give the Planning Board and Select Board an opportunity to find someone to fill out the remainder of his time.
Raymond said he initially decided to get involved in town government shortly after he moved to Burlington and attended the then open Town Meeting. He said he noticed that many people would only vote for issues that directly impacted them and then leave.
“I said that’s no way to run a government,” he said. “I pushed for representative Town Meeting and within ten years it was enacted. That way you know who you’re voting for and they have some dedication to the town. I was very pleased it got that through.”
Raymond said he then decided to because he could see that Burlington was on the cusp of change from being a more rural town to an economic center thanks in part to its location near two highways and he thought he could help guide its growth.
“I felt that if I was going to live here, and the government was going to change, I might as well put my two cents in,” he said. “If you want town government to develop a certain way, why rely on someone else to do it?”
Finally, Raymond said looking back, he is pleased with what the Planning Board was able to do during his tenure, especially helping guide the town through changes in industry and commercial opportunities, including the recent push to attract more biotech and life science companies.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the Planning Board,” he said. “If you look at what has happened recently, the board has a significant responsibility for that. When the first biotech came to Burlington it soothed me because I knew when they came that others would follow.”
The Planning Board is currently accepting applications to fill Raymond’s seat. The application can be found here on the town website. The deadline to apply is August 1.