Hopkinton 2022 Candidate Profile: Shahidul Mannan

HOPKINTON, MA — Voters in Hopkinton have some big choices to make in Monday’s municipal election.

Brendan Tredstone, a two-term board member, has decided not to stand for re-election, creating a vacant seat. Mary Jo LaFrenière is running for re-election for a second term. There are two challengers in the race: Shahidul Mannan, member of the Planning Board and long-time volunteer, and John Coutinho, former member of the Select Board.

To help voters get to know each candidate, Hopkinton Patch sent all candidates a questionnaire to probe their thoughts on the questions. Here’s what Mannan had to say.

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Age on polling day: 52

Job sought : Member, select committee

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Party Affiliation: Democrat

Family:

Wife: Nasiba Mannan

Son: Ryann Mannan (Student, Kelly School of Business, IUB)

Daughter: Rayna Mannan (Grade 7, Hopkinton Middle School)

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?

Wife Nasiba, Former Health Board Member, Current MassNOW Board Member, Cultural Committee and Veterans Celebration Committee Member

Education:

MBA (Finance), Bachelor (Engineering), Executive Education (MIT and Tuck School of Business)

Occupation:

I am an AI technology, data analytics and innovation leader with 20 years of experience leading products and organizations. Currently, I lead as Head of Data Engineering and Innovation at Mass General Brigham. I held a similar position at Dell EMC. My undergrad is in engineering and I have an MBA in finance.

Previous or current elected or appointed position:

Member, Credit Committee (7 years), Growth Study Committee (~2 years),

Current Member, Planning Board and Community Preservation Committee

Campaign website:

hopkintondemocrats.org/directory/name/shahidul-mannan

Why are you seeking an elective mandate?

I moved with my wife and two children to Hopkinton in 2012, to raise our children in a
peaceful, friendly and beautiful town with great schools. As we take advantage of community resources, we believe in giving back.

My father, who is my biggest inspiration, has been in public service all his life. I have been involved in volunteer services with the city for over 8 years: 7 years with the Appropriations Committee, 2 years with the Growth Review Committee, and now with the Planning Board and CPC. I also believe I have unique experience and expertise that will help our city meet current and future challenges.

The most pressing issue facing our board is _______, and that is what I intend to do about it.

I believe we are at a great inflection point for our city. As the post-Covid era approaches, new city center, new marathon museum; we are also dealing with growth, within budget and service levels. This is the most pressing issue facing our city.

However, I believe that with proper planning and execution, we have a great future for our city. I will focus on managing growth, and especially on continuing our academic success and ensuring all levels of service; and do all this with a balanced budget and taxes under control; and preserve our natural resources and the character of the city.

To manage growth, we need to focus on controlling residential growth in a balanced way and fostering the necessary business growth. We need to invest in our schools to achieve sufficient capacity and maintain high quality to match the projected future increase of over 700 students over the next decade.

We should heed our analysis and the recommendations of the study committee on growth, of which I was a part – starting with the construction of an office of economic development, to promote suitable enterprises. This will help diversify and increase our city’s revenue stream to help invest in growth-related services. Currently, we only obtain 11% of commercial and industrial properties; we need to increase it to reduce the risk of a higher tax burden on our residents to maintain service levels in the future.

We need to listen to our experts – financial, academic and otherwise – and work together to develop a comprehensive vision and plan for our future. I am certain and I firmly believe that everything is doable and manageable to our advantage with the right vision, good strategic planning, corresponding to a good execution of our roadmap for the future. This is exactly what I intend to do.

What are the main differences between you and the other candidates for this position?

I have extensive experience with city operations and major committees – spent 7 years on the Appropriations Committee, 2 years on the Growth Review Committee and currently serve on the Planning Board and CPC.

In my professional career, I have a BS in Engineering and an MBA in Finance, currently working at Mass General Brigham as a Data Engineering and Innovation Manager.

I believe there are two areas of great value that I will bring:

1) With my municipal and corporate leadership experience, I will be a great addition to the current Board of Directors by bringing my experience in municipal budgeting and vision development, strategic planning, thought leadership.

2) I also bring diversity and fresh perspectives and will focus on collaboration and building a common platform for our city, regardless of party or background, new or old in town, my goal is to work with everyone as one future-focused Hopkinton.

If you are a challenger, how has the current board or admin let the community down?

I think it’s about doing more about our opportunities and managing the challenges that lie ahead. I believe this is the perfect time to work on our future. We have great schools, a safe city with a strong financial footing. And with the downtown corridor underway and the upcoming marathon museum, we have a great future to work on, of course with challenges.

The biggest challenge is managing the tremendous growth we have experienced and will continue to experience over the next decade. My unique budget experience while supporting school and police, fire, DPW service levels during this period of growth has uniquely prepared me to help manage this growth at the political leadership level at the highest level of leadership in the city.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.

Some of the other problems and areas of interest among many others that I will be working on are:
a) building a vision and a future for a vibrant city centre; building a business after the covid era
b) find a methodical way to plan and solve our water problem – long term
c) help plan our trails and the preservation and enhancement of natural resources
d) improve affordable housing with a focus on veterans and first responders
e) more support for transportation of senior citizens and various medical screening services
f) the mental health of our youth and residents as a whole in the post-Covid era
g) enhance our diverse recreational landscape, from football, baseball, soccer, basketball to pickle ball, cricket, etc.
h) promote our diversity and equity as our city grows. I believe in a Hopkinton and that we are always stronger together.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as proof that you can handle this job?

I think in simple terms my greatest accomplishment would be to manage and oversee a municipal budget in a balanced way with taxes under control and to ensure quality service levels in schools, police, fire, DPW, among others; working with a wonderful group of volunteers and city employees for 7 years, as the population grew from 11,000 to 18,000 and expenses grew from $70 million to $104 million.

It is never an easy task. Many may not be aware of the hours of effort and commitment, working with all city departments and committees over several months that it takes. It also requires thought leadership, critical analysis, due diligence, and negotiation with each department to ultimately come up with something that works for the best of the city. I have done this with passion and with demonstrable success with my peers for a long time.

The best advice ever shared with me was:

Never go alone!

Especially in public service – collaboration, negotiation and clear communication to build actionable consensus is so important.

What else would you like voters to know about you and your duties?

I’m running based on my experience, expertise, ideas and love for the city – as a candidate who happens to be a person of color and has a lot to offer to promote diversity. Through my work for the city, I have had the opportunity to work with all of our city’s departments, with all major issues from the financial, growth and long-term environmental aspects. I learned to collaborate between the committees and the municipal administration while listening to our residents. I believe that by focusing on our opportunities and challenges – with my leadership, budget expertise and collaboration – I can work with all of you to make our bright future a reality.

Please vote for me as the next board member this Monday, May 16.

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