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Why Dunn runs: to keep an eye on town finances, housing

Dan Dunn, 2011

ELECTION'S EARLY LOOK: Brief profiles of those who have taken out nomination papers for major offices in the annual town election, set for Saturday, April 1.

A thoughtful listener and sometimes blunt, Dan Dunn helped shepherd a new Minuteman agreement for 16 towns and start work on a new high school in Lincoln.

That effort in 2015-16 was not the kind of town issue one usually associates with the Board of Selectmen, but as Arlington sends the most students to the technical high school, extending the board's boundaries in this direction is welcome.

Dunn says he is ready for a third term on the board. "I'm proud of the work that we've done and the choices we've made," he wrote recently in response to basic candidate questions, "but there are always new challenges arising. I still enjoy the job and feel the passion to attack the role every day."

Continue to face challenges

He seeks reelection because he "can continue to help the town navigate the challenges that we face."

And those are?

He begins with finances, where he served town government earlier, as a member of the Finance Committee: "The biggest challenge facing the town is always finances. We have had financial stability for the last few years, created by the good choices we have made over the years.

"We increased our revenue with a tax override in 2011, and we have carefully managed our expenses since then.

"However, our expenses continue to grow faster than our revenue. Our expenses are being further stressed by the needs of a fast-growing student population. This will come to a head in the next few years."

He is referring to 2019-20, when Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine has said that the town expects to need its next override.

"We will need to increase our revenue through a tax override, cut our town services or some combination of the two. This conversation will include debate about the renovation and/or rebuilding of our aging high school."

The state agency involved in the high school project received the go-ahead Feb. 15 for Arlington to take the next steps. The new or rebuilt school could open in 2022.

Housing prices, master plan

Dunn pointed another key challenge -- the increase in housing prices, and it's a two-edged sword.

"This is good for many of us, as our home values increase.

"However, the increasing costs are putting Arlington out of reach of many, including the next generation of Arlington residents and the people who work for the town in education and other roles.

Those costs are also driving a trend toward tearing down and rebuilding homes affecting many neighborhoods, he pointed out.

"I don't think it's possible, or even desirable, to simply stop the changes from happening," he wrote. "However, we need to guide the changes down a path of our choosing."

His suggestion: "In particular, we need to follow the path that was started by the town's master-plan process and revise our town's zoning. We need to permit new, denser construction in the parts of town where it is suitable and prevent it in the parts where it is not."

His qualifications

As to his qualifications to continue as a selectman, Dunn pointed to a number of his positions served in town government, as well as personal strengths:

"I have been selectman for the last six years, and I find that with experience, it's possible to get even more done than I could when I was first elected."

As selectman, he is a regular attendee and liaison to a number of town committees. Before he was elected selectman, he served on several town committees, including the Finance Committee. He has served in Town Meeting since 2002, except for a one-year break in 2009.

"I listen well," he wrote. "I'm good at understanding differing positions on an issue and helping to find a consensus." His example: work on the Minuteman School District.


Dunn turns 45 the day before the April 1 election. An avid cyclist, he has lived in town for 18 years.

His day job is in the software start-up industry -- he is the vice president of marketing and analytics at Quantopian, in downtown Boston. The company is a crowd-sourced quantitative investment firm. "We inspire talented people from around the world to write investment algorithms," the company website says.

In the 2014 annual town election, Dunn was reelected and received the most votes: 3,226. Runner-up Diane Mahon, also reelected, got 3,121. Bob Tosi Jr. lost, but was close behind, at 3,088 votes.

In 2011, Mahon was reelected (4,485 votes), and Dunn won his first election to the board, with 4,247 votes.

Campaign website (when available) at

2017 town election: YourArlington information

Feb. 12, 2017: Dunn supports sanctuary-town status

July 20, 2016: Enterprising, 5-year housing targets approved

Jan. 12, 2016: Selectmen back revised accord for a Minuteman district facing change

This news summary was published Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017

Your comments about issues related to the 2017 town election are welcome.

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