To the editor:
My name is Roger Kavanagh and I’m running for a 1-year term on the West Stockbridge Selectboard against Peter Skorput.
I’ve lived in West Stockbridge for almost four years, but I’m not a stranger to the Berkshires. I spent my early years in Chatham, New York, and moved to Great Barrington as a teenager. I’m a Searles High School graduate and an 8-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. I attended the University of Connecticut after the service (using the GI Bill), earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration/finance. I spent the next few decades working in project management positions in corporate and government organizations before returning to the Berkshires in 2016. Since moving to West Stockbridge, I have made a point of attending almost every board meeting and have served as a West Stockbridge representative on two different committees.
Attending board meetings for the past few years gave me the incentive to run for the selectboard because I could see how the business processes I’ve used throughout my career are directly applicable to the work of the board.
As a nuclear weapons specialist and crew chief in the Air Force, I learned that my safety and the safety of my team depended on strict adherence to procedural checklists, extreme attention to detail and the ability to calmly assess situations and determine corrective actions. These skills served me well in that environment and throughout my career since then.
In my corporate life, I had a lot of different job titles, but the bulk of my career was devoted to project management. As a project manager and team leader, I worked with diverse groups from all organizational levels who often had conflicting agendas. It was my role to help them to clearly define the problems they were trying to solve and the best solution to address the problem.
The skills I used to help these groups move from problems to solutions — asking questions, listening attentively to answers, helping others clarify positions, diplomatically challenging assumptions, and keeping the group focused on resolving the problem at hand — are the same skills I would bring to my role as selectboard member.
My work in public housing was an eye-opener for me. I was able to see, first-hand, the impact that federal and state government policies had on people and communities and the critical role that local elected officials play in the lives of their constituents. That experience sparked my interest in participating in local government, which led to volunteer assignments on a committee evaluating the future of the Monument Mountain Regional High School building and on another committee evaluating the feasibility of consolidating the Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire school districts.
Running for the selectboard is a natural extension of these activities, since it will give me another opportunity to contribute to the place I now call home.
I hope this information will help voters make an informed decision when they vote Monday, June 29.