New faces: Meet the five candidates running for two seats on the Barnstable Town Council

·16 min read
Candidates for two seats on the Barnstable Town Council: Jignesh Amin, left, Betty Ludtke and Jake Dewey (all vying for the Precinct 3 seat),  continuing from left, John Crow and Paul Cusack (vying for the Precinct 5 seat).
Candidates for two seats on the Barnstable Town Council: Jignesh Amin, left, Betty Ludtke and Jake Dewey (all vying for the Precinct 3 seat), continuing from left, John Crow and Paul Cusack (vying for the Precinct 5 seat).

Editor's note: This story has been updated to fix the link to John Crow's website.

BARNSTABLE — Two positions on the Barnstable Town Council will be up for grabs as the primary election season kicks off.

The Barnstable Town Council is a 13-member elected board that deals with legislation and policymaking for the town, according to the town’s website. Each member of the council represents one precinct in the town of Barnstable. A slate of new candidates are vying for seats in Precincts 3 and 5.

There are three candidates running for the Precinct 3 seat: Jignesh Amin, Betty Ludtke and Jake Dewey. The current representative Paul Hebert is retiring and moving out of Barnstable, Town Clerk Ann Quirk said.

There are two candidates running for an open seat in Precinct 5: John Crow and Paul Cusack.

Election security: Could this ballot application lead to voter fraud? Very unlikely, say experts

Early in-person voting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Aug. 27 and 28, and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 29 to Sept. 2. On Election Day, Sept. 6, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mail-in ballots for voters living in Precinct 3 and 5 will include the respective town council races, Quirk  said.

The deadline to register to vote in the Sept. 6 primary is Aug. 27. The town clerk's office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day only for voter registration, change of address or change of political party to vote in the state primary election.

We asked the candidates to provide information about their background, experience and priorities if elected. They are in alphabetical order.

Three-way race for Precinct 3

Jignesh Amin
Jignesh Amin

Jignesh Amin

Age: 51

Residence: Centerville

Education: B.S. in engineering, UMass Lowell

Employment: Senior business manager at SABIC, a chemical manufacturing company

Political Experience: None

Other civic involvement: CHAMP Homes Inc.

Why are you running? 

As an independent with no special agenda or mainstream political experience, I’m running for town council to represent all residents of Precinct 3. The current town councilor, Paul Hebert, is a friend and he has endorsed me for the vision I have shared for our precinct and the town of Barnstable, which is preservation of open spaces, developing efficient infrastructure for future growth and solving the housing crisis. I hope to represent the voices of our residents in helping to formulate solutions that will benefit everyone.  

What is the most pressing issue in your district and how would you address it? 

The COVID pandemic has impacted our residents especially hard. It shifted many part-time residents towards a full-time residency in our community. Our infrastructure is stressed to accommodate this growth in population in terms of traffic, clean water and housing that challenges businesses, schools and infrastructure. To support these workers, which in turn provides tax revenue to keep our property taxes low, I plan to work with Planning & Development and the Department of Public Works to come up with new initiatives that will alleviate these burdens with a forward-looking plan that sustains the attraction of the town of Barnstable that inspired me to relocate to Precinct 3.

How do you differ from other candidates? 

I am a truly independent person from a culturally diverse background, born in India and having lived in multiple states in the U.S. I have a background in the corporate world in both engineering and marketing with a problem-solving mindset that needs to get things done in an impactful way.

What other information would you like voters to know? 

I have been a Centerville, Precinct 3, full-time resident for the past 8-plus years.  I have actively connected with many of my neighbors and residents of Barnstable regardless of political beliefs, cultural and economic differences. I have engaged in thoughtful dialogues to better understand their concerns for the betterment of our community. My experience with a degree in engineering and corporate marketing background will enhance my understanding of the complex issues facing Barnstable in the coming months and years. My love of the outdoors through shellfishing, biking, hiking and boating give me a unique perspective that will help me as a town councilor. I look forward to representing the people of Precinct 3 in an open and transparent way. Everyone matters.

Betty Ludtke
Betty Ludtke

Betty Ludtke

Age: 63

Residence: Hyannis Port

Education: Air War College, U.S. Air Force, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Master of Aerospace Operations, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida, Bachelor of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island

Employment: American Airlines pilot, retired colonel United States Air Force, deployed veteran, Operation Enduring Freedom

Political Experience: I am an unenrolled voter (independent), president of Company Grade Officers Council, Aviano Air Base, Italy

Civic Involvement: Cape Cod Times guest columnist, Long-standing member of Hyannis Port Civic Association, member of Greater Hyannis Civic Association, guest speaker at Barnstable Community Innovation School for Memorial Day

Why are you running? 

There isn’t enough citizen involvement in the decision-making that impacts our community. I believe in public participation in government processes. Yes, it can be messy and challenging to bring more people into the process, but living is messy and challenging for many, so I think a lot of people are ready to step up if given a chance. I worked on a lot of policy issues during my time in the Air Force and I always reached out to those who were the angriest or who had the greatest opposition to the proposed policy to understand why. I want to bring the voices of Precinct 3 forward. I’ve already met some amazing folks during the campaign, and I am eager to work for everyone once elected.

What is the most pressing issue in your district and how would you address it? 

Involvement. How do you effectively communicate with an entire precinct to make their voices heard? One man I spoke with in his home said he was tired of being told by the town of Barnstable, “Here is what we’re doing. It has all been decided.” Well, how did that come to pass? Why didn’t I hear about this until after all the decisions had been made? Successful communities work together. Barnstable doesn’t have warrant meetings like the other towns on the Cape. Voters need to trust that their town councilor will speak for them. If you want to talk specific issues by name, traffic and water quality have been brought up a lot as I have been talking with voters. Drug dealing and drug use is also a hot issue.

How do you differ from other candidates? 

Probably the biggest difference is that I have four children in the Barnstable Public School. This keeps me constantly engaged in what is going on in the community. I also think my military experience sets me apart. In the military, you don’t choose those you serve with. You make it work with the folks you have and the military is a great equalizer. You figure out how to get along. Same with my civilian job. I fly with pilots I have never met in my life and may never meet again. Our politics and life choices may differ, but none of that matters. We work safely and effectively as a team because we have hundreds of people sitting behind us who are counting on us to do just that.

What other information would you like voters to know? 

I never dreamed I’d ever run for political office. My plate is overflowing with a full-time job, four children to care for, one large dog who likes long walks and hates cats, and two cats that don’t care for one another or the dog. But I don’t like the way things are going in Barnstable, so when the opportunity arose with the redistricting of Precinct 3, I knew this was the time to jump in. I’ve been talking the talk but now It’s time to walk the walk as a town councilor.

Jake Dewey
Jake Dewey

Jake Dewey

Age: 39

Residence: Hyannis

Education: B.A. Economics, Hobart College

Employment: Owner, All Cape Boat Rentals

Political experience: Chair, Zoning Board of Appeals; vice president, Greater Hyannis Civic Association; former member of Barnstable Economic Development Task Force

Civic involvement: Meals on Wheels volunteer

Why are you running? 

Like many, our community was pushed through challenging times during the COVID-19 pandemic and still faces many unforeseen consequences as a result. I am running because I believe that our community is at a pivotal moment. We are experiencing unprecedented growth in Barnstable — both seasonally and year-round. There is a need for sustainable smart growth of our town, and I believe I can help our community evolve despite the many challenges we currently face.

What is the most pressing issue in your district and how would you address it?  

As previously mentioned, sustainable growth and evolution is an essential topic. Our current councilors have been instrumental in promoting growth including the sewer expansion project, but many topics still need to be addressed including clean drinking water, affordable housing and maintaining a high level of social services (including fire and police). Seeing the seasonal and year-round community flourish and thrive is important to me, and I believe because of my current civic involvement and local business, I personally resonate with this topic. We live in an amazing community and great state with many resources. I want to be a connection between our local community and other local, state, and federal officials and help create action to promote a sustainable growth of Barnstable.

How do you differ from other candidates?

Having served civically, owning a small, local business and residing in this community, I have a comprehensive view of Hyannis that can offer many different and unique perspectives. I am not a one-issue candidate, but offer a balance to all community issues. My business has led me to work with many individuals across our community and hear directly from them.

What other information would you like voters to know?

I am committed to responsible and sustainable growth of our community. I am proud to call Hyannis home and am honored that I have the opportunity to run for Barnstable Town Council. I want voters to know that I am approachable and eagerly want to engage with community members. Listening to their feedback is important so I can implement effective changes that are inspired by all and not just a few individuals.

Two-way race for Precinct 5

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John Crow
John Crow

John Crow

Age: 63

Residence: Osterville

Education: Business, Muhlenberg

Employment: Retired

Political Experience: None

Civic Involvement: President, Osterville Village Association

Why are you running? 

I’m running to give a meaningful voice to residents at a time when consequential decisions are being made about what this community will look and feel like a decade and more from now. Too often, developers and business interests have early and prominent influence in planning, zoning and other proposals. Residents are brought in when proposals are well down the road. This is a matter of public record, not an impression or personal view. I believe residents merit a comparable seat at the table, in timing and weight, as developers and business interests. Community conversation needs to come first, always.

I am running to increase community responsiveness, too. It is the best way to encourage public engagement on the consequential issues before us. On complex issues where reasonable people often differ, everyone deserves to understand what — and how — their views were considered.

What is the most pressing issue in your district and how would you address it? 

The health of our waterways has to be the priority, followed by deliberate development decisions that cleaning our water will enable. The town’s 30-year, $1.4 billion Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan is underway. I support a “yes, all of the above” strategy: sewering and also fast, innovative, minimally disruptive, and environmentally effective solutions wherever possible. These include alternative individual treatment systems that clean up phosphorous and nitrogen, that are performance tracked. The country’s first study of whether these innovative systems can actually perform better — much cleaner and more affordable for homeowners — is happening here in Marstons Mills with the EPA. We need speed and choices.

Once clean water infrastructure is here, we need deliberate, decisive development planning that reflects the community’s will; we can, and have to, do better than leaving development decisions solely to developers.

How do you differ from other candidates? 

I’ve been a homeowner and taxpayer for 23 years and in each of them, I’ve been a fully engaged member of this community. Those who have put down deliberate roots, like I have, know it gives you important knowledge that is hard to come by. I won’t need time to study up on issues before the town council or what’s been happening on our boards and commissions, or to be briefed on what matters to locals. I’ve been there, throughout, listening to them. I’ll keep doing that.

My guiding principle: Always remember why we chose to make this place home, why people like to visit — and then, protect that.

I have never run for political office before and have no ambition beyond representing Barnstable’s 5th precinct. My opponent’s campaign signs use a recycled tagline from his recent Massachusetts state rep campaign that he lost. His announcement for this campaign was about writing a new “chapter” in his story. This is not a career or political move for me. You can be sure I will only vote for things that are right for you and our shared community — not just for me.

What other information would you like voters to know? 

My guidepost: why residents chose to call this place home, why visitors can’t wait to share a bit of it, and protecting that as we make development decisions to serve community needs.

My style: I listen carefully and talk straight. I spend time finding facts. I change my mind when I learn new ones. I apologize when I get it wrong.

My ambition: To represent the people of Precinct 5, right now. I’ve got no political aspirations or next chapters.

If you’d like to learn more about me or your easy voting options, please visit CrowForPrecinct5.com.

Paul Cusack
Paul Cusack

Paul Cusack

Age: 50

Residence: Osterville

Education: B.A. of Classical Languages, Georgetown University, Masters  of Public Administration, Columbia University, Airborne and Ranger School

Employment: Shellfisherman, combat veteran, U.S. Army

Political Experience: White House aide

Civic Involvement: Consultant, L.A. Department of Water and Power, X Prize Foundation, Gang prevention in high schools in Watts, L.A.

Why are you running?

I am running to protect and serve the Village of Osterville.

My campaign is dedicated to restoring some civility to the public sphere.

Teamwork, collaboration and innovation will be the calling cards of my time on the council. I will be transparent and aggressive in pursuing a direction that strengthens our village's values and character, while steadfastly maintaining my belief that Osterville's uniqueness is best expressed within the context of the town of Barnstable as a whole.

When appropriate I will fight, and fight fiercely, for my neighbors and our village. Sometimes to protect things we hold dear, we need to keep current with the times. And sometimes to serve requires an ability to follow — my neighbors have ideas and passions. I will tap into those to help release the pent-up possibilities of this Village and this town.

I am seeking to take on more responsibility in my Osterville community and be a leader in Barnstable. My parents instilled in me a sense of service, a sense for what is right and how to identify and pursue it.

My parents, also, stressed that to retain the amenities of this life and place demands a struggle in which I participate — and that there are serious responsibilities that come with our freedoms. I interpret that as an obligation to serve the public in good faith and with good humor. For those looking to serve as well, who might be at cross purposes with my stances, I will aggressively question their judgment but never their intentions to serve as well.

What is the most pressing issue in your district and how would you address it?

Our most pressing immediate problem is the nexus between our dire need for housing and the realization that our historical development patterns have put our natural ecosystems in a tough spot.

The health and beauty of our local waters underwrite the value in most of our homes and experiences here. Without realistic and timely leadership, we will continue to place our most valuable assets, our homes, our waters, in jeopardy. My insatiable interest in preserving what nature has given us has been a part of my entire approach to solving current problems and is woven through all aspects of my professional life.

These housing and environmental issues cross boundaries and necessitate a personality and willingness to seek workable solutions in a timely way. I will hear out all the arguments and the questions and concerns of all constituents when pursuing our collective work. I will not however cave to special interests, nor allow excessive delaying tactics to block progress that has achieved a clear consensus.

How do you differ from other candidates?

My experience seems very different than that of my opponent.

I have served in the White House and fought in the mountains of Afghanistan. I have seen different kinds of combat from being a U.S. Army Ranger to being a first responder at the Boston Marathon to my work on gang intervention programs. And I know Osterville intimately. And its water. I have worked these waters for the last 4 years as a shellfisherman in the Three Bays.

From high-level service in government to lying on my belly in Cotuit Bay, from combat in Afghanistan to helping kids in Watts avoid combat in their own neighborhoods, I bring a set of practical life skills and a commitment to public service that differentiates me from my competition for this seat.

What other information would you like voters to know?

I know that I can make a difference as your next town councilor from Precinct 5.

We will not build a moat around Osterville. We cannot separate ourselves from the body politic and qualified, hardworking professionals at town hall who strive to enhance every citizen's and visitor's experience in Osterville and Barnstable. We have to resist the siren call of the angriest voices.

There is clearly a productive path forward if we can stop acting like every issue requires a 'slash and burn' attitude to resolve. We can disagree without being disagreeable. I will be a consensus builder and key negotiator on the most pressing issues facing the village and town. I want a seat at the table.

I want to represent your voice, your interests. Not that of any one special interest group or industry. My curiosity runs wide. I will use the authority of this seat to convene citizen voices and subject matter expertise to get the most fiscally responsible and socially agreeable outcomes to move our community on a sustainable path toward greater health and prosperity. I will work with my head and vote with my heart. Please join me. Vote Paul Cusack for town council on Sept. 6. Here's a link to my website: www.electpaulcusack.org/

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Barnstable MA Town Council races on Sept 6. special election ballot