The balls to get the job done…

Tough selectman teaches lessons on ethics and humanity

Kim is a selectman. She is not a selectwoman. She has made that quite clear publicly on several occasions, noting that she has the balls to be a selectman. It’s this humor and dedication to her job that make her stand out.

Kim at a municipal meeting in August, 2016. Photo by Abram Neal.

I covered her for a year-and-a-half in a job at a small-town newspaper.

Kim quickly became one of my favorite people to write about, as she never ceased to be the most colorful character in the room. Always quick with a quip, people gravitated to her.

She would say that it’s the Italian mother in her, although I would say Kim may have a bit of an attention seeking personality.

But, she is genuine, kind, caring, and effective at her job. She is quick with compassionate words but firm when she feels it necessary.

Daily, she can be found driving her white Mercedes around town, from her home in the center of town, to Town Hall, to the Police Station, to the Fire Station. She makes rounds. She is incredibly hands on.

Kim commanded the attention of the room at selectmen’s meetings. She runs unopposed these days.

She has taught me an enormous amount about local politics.

Kim has also demonstrated to me incredible grace under pressure and, interestingly, helped teach me about ethics from a journalistic standpoint.

Kim has four sons, and one was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her family has only known for the last six months. While his prognosis is fine for now, the cancer is aggressive, and rare especially for a high-schooler.

There are very few hospitals in the world that treat this type of cancer. Luckily, Boston has a few and New York City has a few, leaving Kim’s family some choices.

In the days after Kim shared the diagnosis with me, I faced a dilemma. I had a way to possibly help, and I didn’t know where that fit in with my role as a reporter.

My father is not a doctor, but he certainly knows more than a few. He previously worked in the administration at a medical school in Boston and today works at a major cancer research hospital in New York City.

Was there an obligation for my family to help them or did I have some sort of obligation to stay out of the matter, as I covered Kim on a weekly basis? I didn’t want to insert myself into the story, so to speak.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted to be helpful.

My gut said talk to my father and try to help them, and that is what I chose. My father was able to pull a few strings, and suddenly appointments opened up, and experts were available on short-notice.

I intervened, if you can even call it that, because my newspaper wasn’t covering Kim’s son, and because it would have been wrong not to help out under the circumstances.

In the end, her son now sees a Boston-based doctor that they found on their own. Was there ever a conflict in the first place? It’s something I’ve thought about considerably. Isn’t that what I would have wanted for myself?

Kim continues to perform her municipal duties with her trademark sense of humor, but now part of her daily rounds include shuffling her son to and from medical appointments. She does this with composure and grace.

And Kim shows the world that she has the balls to get the job done.