Candidate profile: Joe Zora
Board of Selectman candidate Joe Zora already knows what His role on the board will be if elected.
"If I'm elected," he said, "I'll be standing alone, but I'll be a loud voice."
Zora, who is retired from Lockheed Martin, is the son of former longtime selectman Joseph Zora and the brother of former Department of Works Superintendent Rob Zora. He said that he's running for the one-year term available on the ballot mainly to help steer Marion toward a better future for its younger residents, as well as to correct some concerns he sees in the current town government.
Zora said he's most fearful for young families with children, who he said are "being priced out of Marion," as well as the expenses of older citizens on a fixed income. "There doesn't seem to be a consideration for those on a fixed income, who are worried about what comes next," he said.
Zora's biggest priorities are the wastewater treatment plant upgrades and possible Wareham tie-in that Marion is facing. "The town seems to be so pro-regionalization with Wareham," he explained, "but it's not necessarily the best choice, because it could cost us $40 million, and Wareham has different water and pressure. We could tie into Aucoot Cove instead, but the cheapest option for that is $6.8 million."
Those expenses, he said, come after fixing a too-high phosphorus discharge level from Marion's pipes and wastewater treatment plant. The treatment plant and pipes are still leaking phosphorus, Zora said, with less than three years left to fix the phosphorus leak.
One condition of the wastewater treatment facility's newly-approved National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, requires that the town adhere to outlined phosphorus leakage limits in 42 months. The permit became effective on June 13, 2017, which means that the town now has roughly 31 months left to get phosphorus leakage down to passable numbers.
"The sewer bill is going to kill us," Zora said. " We don't even know how much it will cost to fix that. With expenses like that, how are we going to pay to renovate the Town House?"
Zora said he's also concerned about a lack of "transparency" in Marion's government. "I'm tired of one-way dialog," he said. "Voters should have an opportunity to get facts on the issues...we've spent so much money on the Town House, and it seems like people still don't understand what the facts are. We need common sense, and we need to listen."
Zora said he's been following town issues—or trying to, but added that he felt that residents are being stonewalled from some discussion. "I recently came upon a meeting between [engineering firm] CDM Smith, Rep. Bill Strauss and several town officials that was held behind locked doors. Now I was told that advertising of the meeting and minutes weren't required, because there wasn't a quorum. Did that mean the meeting wasn't really happening? They were discussing fixing the lagoon, and I'm concerned about meetings continuing to happen in secured areas, without people being told."
His goal is to get a happy balance going for a year, he said, and bring back clarity and information for residents on the issues that the town is facing. "If I don't win...I'm 70 years old, I'll take my grandkids fishing," he said. "But I'd like to try and help the town."