By Connie Reddy Dwyer
Oxford’s native son, Selectman John Saad, makes his town proud, as he has served over 40 years on the Board of Selectmen. He was rooted in government affairs, starting with his father, the late John Saad who also was a selectman. There is a special monument, “The John Saad Memorial Square,” honoring his Dad’s service to the town of Oxford at the intersection of routes 56 and 12.
Past involvement in the town of Oxford includes having been a Finance Officer for the American Legion and, as an Army veteran, staying involved in Veteran’s organizations. He’s also been a coach for youth basketball, men’s softball and women’s softball. He was the co-founder and president of Oxford’s Founder’s Committee which was observed town-wide for 20 years, but is no longer celebrated. In addition, he was chairman of Oxford’s 275th anniversary celebration (1988) and was honored by the 300th Anniversary Committee (2013) for his contributions to the community over the years. In the past, he has served as a CD Reserve Police Officer and served on many town boards and committees. “If you are a member of a community, you have to be active.”
John does not just talk the talk, he walks the walk, and as a veteran selectman he believes that the following are areas the town of Oxford must deal with:
- Budget—fortunately, “we are a single tax pay base” which benefits taxpayers and businesses. “Everything circulates around money to operate a town.”
- Business Friendly— “We need to bring businesses into town as a small bedroom community. With more businesses, this will mean less pressure on homeowners.” John was especially pleased to note that IPG is a worldwide company with its headquarters in Oxford. “The company has expanded and we again offered them tax breaks. With our single-tax factor everyone pays the same rate, whether a business or homeowner, which is a draw for businesses to come to Oxford.”
- Staffing—“We need proper staffing for our departments. People pay taxes and deserve qualified people to help them.” He added, “We are very fortunate to have helpful employees whether at Town Hall, the Police station, Fire Department, DPW and other departments. They are exceptional, and I have heard very few complaints.”
Selectman Saad does admit, however, that personnel issues “can be tough,” especially “with what changes we have seen with our town managers, chiefs of police and fire chiefs. It can be very daunting to find the brightest and most qualified people to serve in government positions.” On that note, he said he and the Town of Oxford are already noticing how “effective the new town manager, Jennifer Callahan, has become since she joined us at the end of September, 2018.” He said he is looking forward to a positive relationship with the town manager and the board of selectmen to insure stability within the town of Oxford.
When asked if he thought the size of the board of five was sufficient, he quickly answered, “It is perfect.” He especially noted that the significance of when the first woman, Alice Walker, was named to the board. Alice, now in her 80s, remains active in town at the senior center.
One board of selectmen issue that has been both on-going and has required an inordinate amount of time involves a “bad dog” situation (one where a dog bit three different people over a period of a couple of months). This and another “bad dog” problem were discussed at a few meetings. When he was queried as to whether there was another place to discuss this type of problem, he replied, “There is no other place, and it is most difficult to deal with this kind of problem because the state has tougher laws and local boards of selectmen must have more teeth in licensing. We are not a full-time board, but we make the time.”
Veteran Selectman John Saad has received many awards. Some of these include “Citizen of the Year” by the Oxford Veterans of Foreign Wars and “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” by the Webster Lodge of Elks.
Selectman Saad’s professional career is also impressive. He worked for 30 years as a state employee as Director of the Department of Transitional Assistance. His lifelong personal and professional experience, therefore, involves—impressively—ongoing community service.
John has been married to the former Jeanne deVillers for 52 years; they have three grown children and five grandchildren.