(A Marlborough City Councilor asks a question of a chair candidate. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

With tax increases being gifted to Republican candidates to run against in 2014, how can the State GOP elect a chair who, as an elected official, voted for budgets that raise taxes in her city?

As the member of the Marlborough City Council, I was elected at 26 and was the youngest Councilor in over 25 years. Since then, I’ve seen three budgets and made many tough funding decisions. I’ve taken many lumps for the decisions I’ve made as a Councilor, but I feel I’ve always fought against raising taxes.  

Ultimately, Marlborough is in great shape financially, in part because of my hard work to keep taxes and spending low. As a locally elected official, my city’s budgets depend greatly on the state budgets, which usually cut local aid while increasing spending, and leaving local officials to explain raising property taxes.

I was upset to learn about Kirsten Hughes’ record as Quincy City Councilor, as she has a record supporting tax increases for her city. In fact, as recently as last year, she supported a budget that increased taxes the maximum amount allowed by law without coming to a city-wide vote.

She supported a budget that raised taxes by 2.5%, which would raise taxes on the average home in Quincy by $110. How can she be the Chair of the MassGOP, when six months ago she supported these massive increases?

I fully understand taking tough votes and the backlash given to Republicans for making tough budget decisions. However, I also know where you can easily cut a budget to save taxpayers money. The city of Quincy is proposing a 20% increase in the city’s “celebration account”, to $90,000. This is to pay for “community events, including performances and holiday decorations.” As a City Councilor, that would be the first place I’d look to cut, not give a 20% increase!

Governor Deval Patrick has given every Republican running for office from state-wide to ward-wide a platform: lowering taxes. There has been a huge backlash from his billion dollar tax increase, and these proposals give every single Republican something to run on.

Can the MassGOP afford to have the face of its organization, its party chair, be someone who has a track record of supporting higher taxes and spending? It completely dismisses our main argument of fiscal responsibility.

Can you imagine John Walsh and Kirsten Hughes “On the Record” together, talking tax increases?

As a member of “the farm team” of the MassGOP, I need someone in the leadership position who supports lower taxes and cutting spending. We need someone who can grow the party from the grassroots level and help us fight for fiscal responsibility.

Matt Elder is a Marlborough City Councilor. Follow him at @CouncilorElder on Twitter

About Matt_Elder


  1. any published news sources. Does the increase have anything to do with Proposition 2 1/2?  

  2. I really don’t want to get down in the weeds here, and with all due respect, I have to wonder if this is an instance of the proverbial pot calling the kettle black at the very least?

    Matt Elder voted to increase taxes on Marlborough homeowners as recently as one month ago:

    December 17, 2012, Matt Elder Voted To Increase The Residential Tax Rate For Marlborough Homeowners By 1.47 Percent. (Marlborough City Council Website,, Pg. 2, Accessed 1/28/13)

    The Average Marlborough Homeowner Would See A Jump Of About $65 In Their Annual Tax Bill. “In terms of dollars and cents, the change would mean that the residential tax rate would be expected to go up from $14.80 on every $1,000 of property value to $15 on every $1,000 worth of value. That shift would mean that the owner of an average single-family home worth just over $300,000 would see a jump of about $65 in their annual tax bill.” (Kendall Hatch, “City Council Approves Tax Shift,” The MetroWest Daily News, 12/19/12)

  3.    Ricky has 471 or so Facebook page followers. Who asked who to follow? Ricky invited me. I don’t follow people I don’t know, unless a good friend reccommends it. We do things for our friends.

      How much of a donation does the Marlboro RTC require for an endorsement?

      Three young people does not exactly mean a tsunami of young Republican support. If Ricky wins, I hope he hires them as promised. Eric and Phil are good people and tireless campigners. They will serve our party well. I worked with them on the Jon Golnik campaign.

      Speaking of Jon Golnik… Ricky claims Jon endorsed him. Ricky lied. Simple as that.

      If you’re going to lie to win, I don’t want to hear your lies any time afterward. Your credibility was lost on your first lie.

      Psst… Wanna buy some auto parts?

  4. We’ve missed the point, I think. Despite Mr. Elder’s inflammatory (but eye-catching) title, I think the point he makes is valid, and I haven’t really seen it get addressed yet.

    I’ve seen a straw-man argument that somehow made it back to Mr. Elder’s record, but nothing that answers the question. Why don’t we address the main  point of the post:

    How can we have a chair in a minority party that is supposed to represent a contrast to the virtual one-party rule, if our chair and the D’s chair have done the same thing with taxes?

    That is a real, and intelligent discussion. If the point is inaccurate or invalid, somebody correct Mr. Elder intelligently, instead of trying to dig dirt up on him.

  5. You guys can’t stop beating the hell out of each other.  Your eyes are off the prize of getting elected to positions of influence because you want to slap away at any newcomers.  

    This party got pummeled in the last election cycle.  Many current office holders decided to hand on the sidelines and some even supported the opposite party.  It looks like some of you like being in the minority most of the time so you can stomp and kick and scream all the time.

    You don’t see to many Dems beating up on John Walsh.  They can’t, it would be foolish.  Get your act together and start embracing your new leadership!  

  6. Keep the Quincy City Council and Kirsten Hughes from voting for an even larger property tax increase?  If Quincy had any excess tax levy capacity would Ms. Hughes have voted for an even larger increase?  And when are these parties that the $90,000 is going to fund, sounds like a great time?

  7. I understand that you’re passionate but even I, as someone almost notoriously supporting Kirsten Hughes’s candidacy, isn’t going to refer to Rick Green as “Ricky”.  

    I don’t know Rick Green very well but I know that he deserves the respect to be called by his preferred first name and not a diminutive.  I used to call my late cousin Richard, Jr. “Ricky” and I did until the day he died, despite being in his 40s but then again, that was a familiar bond.

    I posted the item above as well as the Golnik snafu – and I’ll attribute nothing but the best motives & intentions, as well as the courtesy of Reagan’s 11th Commandment. It’s trite to say that we can agree without being disagreeable but let us all extend a modicum of mutual respect to our fellow Massachusetts Republicans, no matter which candidate we may prefer or not, as the case may be.

  8. But don’t let your lack of facts get in the way.

  9. Broc,

    Let’s actually read the whole article first shall we.

    Let’s start with the headline:

    Marlborough homeowners won’t take big hit in council tax vote.

    For the readers sake, let me give some history.

    A tax-shift is the formula used to determine the rates different properties classifications are taxed at (i.e. residential, owner occupied, commercial, and industrial). Historically communities have always taxed business property which makes a profit higher than residential. Prior to 1978, the way it was done was by assessing the property values at a different percentage of fair market value.  The State Courts found that UN-Constitutional, so in 1978, through citizens petition ballot question, the voters passed property tax classification. It may even have been an Amendment to the State Constitution, but I don’t recall. During the election, the measure was supported by both the Conservative Democrat Ed J. King and the Liberal Republican Francis W. Hatch who were running for Governor.

    With the passage of “Classification” all property was assessed at 100%, but cities and towns could charge different rates for commercial or industrial property.

    Now in this case Brock, Marlborough voted to reduce the shift away from commercial property and it indeed means a total increase in the residential rate of 1.47% or 20 cents per $1,000.000 valuation.  But in return commercial and business property rates will go down 1.7% or 50 cents per $1,000.00, from $29.04 to $28.46. The businesses are practically paying double the rate and Marlborough is wisely trying to do something about it, for the long-term fiscal health of the city.

    All you have to do is drive around some of these cities and towns and see the empty store fronts. More and more commercial property is being converted to condos or apartments. That means it’s going to bring in less per $1,000 and lead to higher rates for everyone.

    Marlboro looks like it’s currently operating at near maximum shift of 200% and they are wisely rolling it back. Most cities and towns find that 150% to 175% strikes the right balance. It makes it easier to retain and attract businesses AND EMPLOYERS to the community. So Marlboro took a very Republican vote in December. They voted to make a disproportionate tax shift less disproportionate. They are doing it slowly to avoid shock, and in the long run it will keep residential taxes lower, because they will lose less of the commercial base. Once they get down to 175% of lower, they may find themselves increasing their commercial base and that will mean less increases  for everyone including residential taxpayers. It is the municipal equivalent of a supply side approach to property taxes. It’s obviously not quite the same. Supply side doesn’t work quite the same way with property taxes as it does with income taxes.

    Cities and towns face years increases because even when they get employees to agree to pay freeze, they still have to pay “step-increases” or “longevity pay.” These are independent of contractually negotiated pay raises.

    But Marlborough must be doing something right folks.

    First of all the tax shift, while it represents an increase in rates for residential properties, isn’t raising additional revenues with this shift. It’s just shifting who pays what. That means Marlborough is relying on new growth and higher property values to fund the increased cost of their government.

    So now let’s compare apples to apples:

    Marlborough, voted to decrease taxes on job creators and those who pay higher taxes in order to ensure that this tax base doesn’t disappear. Again, a highly Republican principle at work. The total increase to residential taxpayers is 1.47%. An increase that many residents in other communities would be envious of.  On the other hand,

    Ms. Hughes voted for an increase of 2.5% which is 70% higher, then the rate increase in Marlborough And no where do we read of any reduction in taxes for job creators or businesses in Quincy.

    While Marlborough, under Matt Elders, appears to be relying on new growth, Quincy under Ms. Hughes, is raising revenue in addition to those raised by increased valuations. So Mr. Elders is holding the line on wasteful spending in Marlborough, while Ms. Hughes seems to be rubber stamping expenditures and tax increases in Quincy. That is based on the information provided Matt Elders.

    Brock, I’m sure this was an oversight on your part. I may disagree with you on somethings. But I consider you an honest person. So I don’t  you to be the type of person who would deliberately try to misrepresent facts. Nevertheless, we all (including myself as you have corrected me from time to time) need to make sure we accurately represent the facts.

  10. Elders make a valid point. How can Hughes possibly debate higher taxes against the Democrats.

    I consider myself a fiscal Republican. I’m about low taxes, small government, and personal freedom.  We can’t have a party Chair with a questionable record on taxes.  Matt Elders isn’t running for party chair. Kirsten Hughes is.

  11. There was no misrepresentation of facts.  The actions increased taxes 20 cents isn’t a lot of money but it increased taxes on homeowners.  Had my family & I lived in Marlborough that vote would’ve increased my tax bill.  That’s an accurate fact.  It was a tax increase upon working families of approximately $65.00.  

    Yes, there was a business offset, and that’s great for business but it was an increase for working families of Marlborough.  You can rationalize it all you want.

    Also, I linked directly to the entire newspaper article with the headline you reproduced.  I wasn’t trying to hide it, I pointed to it.  I’ll admit that 20 cents isn’t much but it is a tax increase.  $65.00 may not break your bank but it’s a bill or two for the average homeowner.

    It’s not a nice try, it’s a fact.  It’s an example that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and certainly not with unclean hands.  The real oversight was for one City Councilor to attack another municipality’s City Councilor with statements like “I feel I’ve always fought against raising taxes.”  Well, I suppose the operative word here is “feel” because the actual vote increased taxes on homeowners by 20 cents, or an average of $65.00 per year.  

    I have no desire to attack Matt Elder.  I’m sure he’s a valuable asset to Marlborough.  Elder took a shot at Hughes with “has a record supporting tax increases for her city.”  Well, Matt Elder’s vote is in the history books of raising taxes upon Marlborough homeowners.  Fact is simply that, an attack was launched against Kirsten Hughes and by someone who wasn’t as pure as the wind driven snow on the matter as claimed.  

    I have absolutely no ax to grind with you, Matt Elder, or Rick Green.  Elder was absolutely right when he wrote “I fully understand taking tough votes and the backlash given to Republicans for making tough budget decisions.”  Indeed, Matt Elder made a tough vote as a Republican making a tough budget decision as a City Councilor when he decided to and cast a vote for increasing taxes on Marlborough homeowners.  

    Dislike Hughes as a MassGOP Chairman’s candidate and dislike Hughes as a Quincy City Councilor but let us hold everyone to the same standard and by that standard, Matt Elder voted to raise taxes the average residents of his city.

    Having two Republicans serving currently on my own town’s Select Board (and as an elected Town Meeting member, myself) I don’t envy our local elected officials when it comes to holding the line on tax increases especially when the state is bleeding us dry and forcing unfunded mandates upon us.  All I’m asking is for fair & equal treatment of our candidates & not hypocritical shots at either of them.  I happen to labor under the presumption that despite our differences, we in the Massachusetts Republican Party are good people, with the best of intentions, purest of motivations and that petty campaign tactics are beneath us so yes, I believe that you, Elder, & Green are all honest people but we just happen to have a sincere difference of opinion and perspective.  

  12. But a major difference is that yes, I voted on the split, and then went and voted AGAINST the budget tat was presented to the Council that year.

    Of the 3 budgets I’ve seen as a Councilor, I only supported one (my first, in which Councilor Paul Ferro made I believe $2M in cuts on the Council floor, and if it wasn’t approved that night it we probably wouldn’t have made the same amount of cuts)

    So, if you think Ms. Hughes’ support of tax incrases is the same as “me voting to raise taxes” I contend that by voting against the budget I’ve taken a stance against tax increases and increased spending.

  13. With Jon Golnik’s approval Rick posted a quote from Jon about the work Rick did on his campaign. Rick never remotely claimed it  was an endorsement.

  14. Simple J. Malarkey

    Reagan aid that AFTER challenging (and throughly criticizing) a sitting Republican President for the nomination.  Reagan had every right to challenge him, but it is the height of hypocrisy for him to make up this “11th Commandment” 4 years later to deflect his opponents when Reagan was the front runner.

  15. Matt,

    As someone who runs a watchdog citizens group dedicated to monitoring our municipal government in Watertown, I get exactly what you did. You voted to save your commercial tax base and thus keep future increases for EVERYONE INCLUDING HOMEOWNERS down.

    Yes, the net short term result is an increase for residential property owners. But the comparison doesn’t remotely apply.

    These aren’t merely offsets. You folks in Marlborough have the good sense to look at your empty storefronts and buildings and see the score. Not to mention that these empty properties wind up qualifying for an abatement, so the revenue is going to have to come from somewhere else anyway.

    Or as I mentioned these properties get converted to residential and you lose half the taxes!

    Once you guys get your shift down to 175% or lower, it will pay huge dividends for homeowners. It was the Republican decision to make.  Brock’s comparison doesn’t make sense, if once you understand how it works.

  16. The comparison makes perfect sense as it’s pretty simple, home rates increased 20 cents to an average increase of $65.00 per average homeowner.  It’s basic mathematics.  Marlborough homeowners have to dig a little deeper into their pockets to pay the town.  You freely admit that “the net short term result is an increase for residential property owners”.  ’nuff said, my friend.

    I’m not trying to vilify Matt for it but let’s be honest, if Kirsten Hughes had made the exact same vote you’d be trying to politically stone her for it.  The difference is both of you gentlemen support Rick Green, so it’s okay.  

    I’ve supported and I’ve objected to many votes that my Republican Select Board members have made.  My town went so far as to turn off virtually every street light a few years back in order to cut costs & save taxpayer funding.  Matt & Kirsten do what they feel is best for their cities and as someone who isn’t a resident, I’m not about to indict either one.

    Simply put, whether it be Rick Green or Kirsten Hughes — I look forward to Friday, February 1.  A new day, a new month, a new Chairman & a new course for the Massachusetts Republican Party.  I look forward to working along side either/both of them, Matt Elder, and you over the many days, months, and years ahead.    

  17. No need to play semantics, the implication was crystal clear.  I don’t fault Rick for it, a positive quote by a Congressional candidate is fair game, but we both know that the intended perception was far more than a nice quote.  

    Rick deserves the accolades he’s earned for his campaign work, donations, involvement in the Mass Fiscal Alliance.  If he wins on Thursday evening, he’ll have certainly earned my congratulations, well wishes, and pledge of support for his tenure.

  18. Kirsten Hughes has to stand on her record just as much as any one else running for an office.  Quite honestly, I live in an entirely different municipality and understand how both could’ve made their votes and I have no idea what I’d have done in their places.  I do have no doubt that both Hughes and Elder, despite his also increasing taxes on homeowners, did what they felt was best for their cities.

    My gripe is simply the attempt to portray oneself as an angel when they have a broken halo for voting to raise taxes on home owners and portrayed themselves as innocent of the sin.

    I’m not saying that Matt Elders is a bad City Councilor, he isn’t a bad Republican, bad conservative, or bad person.  I’m sure he’s a fine example of all the above and to have been elected, and at such a young age, is quite an accomplishment.  We should all have dedicated Republican activists ready, willing, and able to put their names out for municipal election – and even more so who are victorious, like both Matt Elders & Kirsten Hughes – we need more of them at the municipal level and then moving on up.  

    I simply assert that maybe the campaign talking point should have been made by another messenger as in this instance me thinks someone doth protest too much.

  19. He’s not in the race to be one of the main faces for our party. Kirsten is, and that’s why this is a problem for her.

  20. Brock,

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that Matt is presenting a talking point for Green’s campaign.

    Notwithstanding the messenger or if he’s making a point on Green’s behalf.

    M.A. Jefferson makes a good point. Kirsten’s record on taxes takes away in part our best talking point against John Walsh.

  21. Fair point, Matt isn’t running for MassGOP Chair & Kirsten is a candidate for the office.  I can buy that simple line of reasoning.  I suppose my point boils down to simply this, if Kirsten is disqualified for the position then Matt would be as well if he ever had such a desire as he accused her of raising taxes when he did so as well.

    Ultimately, it all comes down to my earlier post that nobody is perfect – Hughes, Green, Elder, Cordeiro, et al – but we’re doing the best we can to advance our party.

  22. Republican Ram Rod Radio

    Brock knows that … But to deflect attention from his candidate he needs to discredit Matt Elder for raising a very important point.    

    That’s why when you called him out on that he’s left with . . .

    ‘OK Fine, yeah Matt’s not running for MA GOP Chair … Kirsten is. Look look look look look look look look look look we all make mistakes blah blah blah’

  23. Whether as an official agent of Team Green or acting independently, it doesn’t really matter to me.  Matt Elder is a partisan for Green.  Elder is entitled to his opinion and his preference of candidates as are you &.  Indeed, a good many people are likewise.  There’s not fault or shame in that nor do I intend to suggest otherwise. Good people can evaluate the same evidence and reasonably arrive at sincere different conclusions and differences of opinion.

    Both Rick Green & Matt Elder are good guys, I have no malice towards either.  Matt isn’t pure white in taxes and that’s where I took issue as he too raised taxes while trying to demonize Kirsten for allegedly raising taxes.  No, Matt isn’t pure and apparently neither is Kirsten isn’t either.  Also impure are the two Republicans on my town’s Select Board and I imagine virtually no one in elected office can claim to be even the purity of Ivory soap, even those that ultimately may profess to be “more Catholic than the Pope” as the saying goes.

    I sincerely look forward to actually fighting to defeat Democrats than get bogged down in fighting each other.  I’m sure Rick will do a fine job of that if he is elected and I’m sure Kirsten will do a fine job of it as well if she is elected.

    Not to belabor the point but this is not some grand referendum on conservatism or Republicanism.  This isn’t an existential struggle for the soul of the Massachusetts Republican Party.  I’ve heard the rhetoric of some and found it empty.  We’re not going to be the party of liberal RINOs under Kirsten Hughes and we’re not going to be the party of perpetual conservative purity purges under Rick Green.  Kirsten Hughes is not going to be the puppet of Scott Brown.  Rick Green is not going to be the puppet of Jim Rappaport.  Kirsten is not going to be the gatekeeper for the top of the ticket nor is Rick going to be the great white knight of the undercard.  No doubt that there will be different management styles, perhaps differences of strategy & tactics — after all, this is a contested campaign & not two cookie cutter clones but overall, I think we all need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that we’ve got municipal elections to work on, legislative candidates to recruit,and several special elections upcoming across the Commonwealth.  

    Now, those aforementioned are all unfair assumptions.    

  24. That might be true if Rick hadn’t gotten Golnik’s clearance first.

    This is the first I’ve heard of this. I would have noted it because I would have been surprised at the endorsement.

    After all Brown gave one of his rare endorsements to local Republicans to Jon Golnik, in the primary no less. It would make no sense to me for Golnik to then endorse someone running against Brown’s pick for Chair.

    And yes I believe you will congratulate Rick and support him as we all should. As we should all support Kirsten should she win.

    But again this is not about semantics and it’s an attempt on Bilixi’s part to change the subject.

    How will Kirsten Hughes defend the Republican talking points in 2014 on taxes?

  25. Rick got clearance from Golnik to run a nice quote about himself, wonderful.  Nothing wrong with that but it’s self-evident that those listed were meant to bolster the campaign as supporters.  A wise move, after all that’s the point of campaign updates to the electorate.  It was a smart thing to do, no fault in it at all.  Unfortunately, a few hours later the other team threw down the wild card and trumped the original message.  

    Kirsten Hughes will defend Republican talking points on taxes just as any elected official will, by freely admitting that they make tough choices based on real facts in less than ideal situations.  You know as well as I do that we are bound by the principle of subsidiarity and that the government that is most effective is that closest to the people.  Making tough choices at the municipal level, as Matt Elder did, as my own Republican Selectmen do, as Kirsten does and numerous others across the state, does not invalidate the making of very bad choices in the state legislature.  Indeed, perhaps Elder & Hughes wouldn’t have had to make the decisions that they made, all in the best interests of their constituents, if there was more sanity on taxes & spending at the state level.  Hughes can & would defend our Republican principles on low taxes, limited government, and prudent spending through her experience as a Quincy City Councilor doing her best to bring those fiscally conservative principles to bear in an imperfect situation.

    To disqualify Hughes would be to disqualify Elder and to disqualify just about each & ever Republican elected official in the history of the Commonwealth and country from Lincoln, through TR, to Reagan up through today.  

    I’m a wee bit more worried about Deval’s budget scam and Hughes or Green leading the charge to beat that back than I am friendly fire or the rhetorical games of the Democratic Party Chairman.

  26. If Golnik didn’t want to give the quote or allow him to use it it, he wouldn’t have used it.

    And again… A question is being asked. How does Kirsten Hughes defend the Republican talking points on taxes with her record?

    It’s not the only reason why I and many others think, she’s not the right choice. And I’m not saying she’s disqualified from being Chair. I don’t know what Matt is saying. I’m simply saying it’s one more reason why I don’t think she’s the best choice.

    So how does Kirsten answer the question or voice the Republican Platform on taxes when she’s got a bad record on the issue. That’s the point of the post. Let’s stay on topic.

  27. Republican Ram Rod Radio

    C’mon Brock enough with the straw-man.  MATT ELDER IS NOT RUNNING FOR PARTY CHAIR.  The guy raised an important point and now you’re filling up the page with negative Matt Elder stuff.  


  28. Brock who said anything about disqualifying anyone just because someone voted for tax increase.  I find it better to get all the ‘dirt’ out there before the election, instead of finding out something crazy – something that never could happen, like a MassGOP Chair donating to Deval Patrick… right that couldn’t happen…. oh wait.  

  29. Republican Ram Rod Radio

    Yup – Brock is punishing Matt Elder for raising the question.  

    Both Matt and Kirsten raised taxes yet Kirsten is the one running for Chair see how it works?

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