MMA President Ellen Allen (left) and Vice President Cecilia Calabrese

Norwell Selectman Ellen Allen and Agawam City Councillor Cecilia Calabrese will lead the MMA in 2019 as president and vice president, respectively, after their election by the MMA Board of Directors at the association’s Annual Business Meeting in Boston on Jan. 19.

Allen, a member of the Norwell Board of Selectmen since 2011 and its chair from 2013 to 2015, was president of the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association in 2015 and 2016. She has served as chair of the Plymouth County Advisory Board since 2012, and served on the Norwell Advisory Board for four years before winning election as a selectman.

Allen said she’s excited about getting more involved in advocating for cities and towns at the State House. Last year, she said, she focused on K-12 education funding accounts and advocating for Gov. Charlie Baker’s housing production bill, which would have reduced the vote threshold from two-thirds to a simple majority for approval of zoning bylaws and ordinances focused on housing production. (The administration has stated its intention to refile the bill.)

“I’m a finance nerd, so I’m hoping to be able to get involved in getting [legislators] more aware of OPEB [other post-employment benefits], how important it is to attack health insurance costs, and then protecting local zoning,” she said.

Calabrese is vice president of the Agawam City Council and the District 1 representative on the Massachusetts Municipal Councillors’ Association Board. She was first elected to the City Council in 2003 and has served several terms since. Previously, while living in Connecticut, she served on the Conservation Commission in Brookfield, Connecticut.

Calabrese said she’s excited to serve as a voice for western Massachusetts in her role as MMA vice president. Citing Karyn Polito, the state’s well-travelled second in command, Calabrese said she hopes to make a “mini-lieutenant governor tour” of the towns in District 1 to bring ideas back to the MMA and the State House.

“We have a lot of infrastructure issues and different local issues in our cities and towns in the western part of the state that are different from the eastern part of the state,” she said. “I hope to be a louder voice for that and advocate for that.”

MMA Executive Director and CEO Geoff Beckwith said he looks forward to the coming year under the leadership of Allen and Calabrese.

“Ellen and Cecilia have been an invigorating part of our board, and our staff appreciates their dedication and leadership and are excited for 2019 with them leading our efforts,” Beckwith said. “Education funding, housing, economic development and local aid are just a few of the critical issues that will be debated this coming year, and with Ellen and Cecilia leading our board, we are confident that we will find solutions that work for every city and town in the Commonwealth.”

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