Waltham City Council President John McLaughlin, left, and Franklin Town Administrator Jamie Hellen became the MMA’s new president and vice president, respectively, during the MMA Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 20.

As cities and towns face inflation and fiscal constraints, climate threats, and a range of other challenges, the MMA’s new president and vice president for 2024 say they are eager to represent local governments and their diverse needs.

During the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 20 in Boston, Waltham City Council President John McLaughlin, who last year served as the MMA’s vice president, succeeded Lexington Select Board Member Jill Hai as president. Joining him as vice president this year is Franklin Town Administrator Jamie Hellen, who is also serving as the District 2 representative for the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association.

McLaughlin said working with Hai over the past year has given him a better insight into the MMA’s workings and the needs of its members. He said he looks forward to collaborating with local leaders from around the state, and to advocating for residents’ needs on Beacon Hill.

“While there are many challenges facing the municipalities of the Commonwealth, fiscal stability is critical,” McLaughlin said. “The importance of our partnership with Beacon Hill with regard to revenue sharing cannot be understated. We will work to strengthen that relationship in the coming year.”

McLaughlin is also president of the Massachusetts Municipal Councillors’ Association and began his sixth term on the Waltham City Council just weeks before the MMA conference. He has also served as council vice president and as chair of multiple council committees, including Ordinance and Rules. Active in the MMA since 2013, he has served on the MMA Policy Committee on Public Works, Transportation and Public Utilities, helped organize a training session for newly elected councillors, and facilitated a webinar about civility and productivity in meetings.

“The MMA has always been something that helps to keep me plugged into what is going on beyond the city limits,” McLaughlin said. “It is also an organization that helps to recharge my batteries and keep the creative juices flowing with regard to new ideas I can bring back to my city.”

McLaughlin said he also looks forward to working with Hellen and to continuing his work with MMA Executive Director Adam Chapdelaine, who took over last September after the retirement of longtime MMA leader Geoff Beckwith.

Hellen said Chapdelaine’s hiring inspired him to serve as vice president this year. He said he has great respect for Chapdelaine (a former town manager), and he wants to support the MMA during its transition. Hellen said he has experience taking the reins from a “legend” himself, having followed long-time Franklin Town Administrator Jeff Nutting in 2019, and said he understands the effort required to ensure an organization’s smooth transition and to establish a new vision.

As MMA vice president, he wants to be a supportive voice for communities.

“We are a very diverse state, and it’s critical at this time to hear all voices from across the Commonwealth,” Hellen said. “I have been fortunate to have lived, worked and played throughout Massachusetts, and hope that my knowledge of the state can be a helpful ear for all constituencies throughout the Commonwealth.”

Hellen said fiscal concerns are central for the MMA and its members — something that’s true every year, but has become more acute due to the recent slowdown in state revenue growth and budget cuts. He said it’s important to ensure that resources get distributed across the entire state, given the exponential demands for services that communities face, even as local tax levies remain capped by Proposition 21⁄2. In addition, he said, funding for infrastructure improvements will be critical to protect residents and municipal facilities from storm damage and the effects of climate change.

“As we enter a very challenging election year,” Hellen said, “I hope we can all agree to be civil, understanding, and open to all ideas and opinions. We will not all agree on every issue, but we should agree that we are all fortunate to live in a great state, with exceptional people, and be proud of the incredible quality of life in Massachusetts.”

Before becoming Franklin’s town administrator, Hellen served for more than three years as its deputy administrator. Previously, he was operations assistant to the town manager in Hopkinton and the municipal services coordinator at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. He also spent years working for several legislators and for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Before becoming the District 2 representative in the MMMA, he served as an at-large representative.

Hellen said the “camaraderie” among MMA members “is nothing short of inspirational.” His desire to be a part of the organization, and to serve in government, stems from a long family tradition of public service.

“Since being a lifeguard as a teenager, I have been in public service my entire life,” Hellen said. “Both of my parents were public servants, and most of my extended family and friends were custodians, lunch ladies, dispatchers, police officers, firefighters, teachers and so forth. I don’t know any other way of life.”

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