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After 20 years Patullo retires his seat as Hampden moderator

Date: 11/17/2008

By Natasha Clark

Assistant Managing Editor

HAMPDEN After serving the town of Hampden as its moderator for the last 20 years, Richard Patullo is ending his reign.

He got his start back in 1988 when the former moderator stepped down after also serving 20 years. He approached Patullo and asked if he wanted to run for his seat.

"I was quite honored. It's a one year term and I had competition first term and ran unopposed after that," Patullo said.

The humble Patullo said he will miss the job and that he has enjoyed being a part of the town in that capacity.

"It's an awful lot of fun because it is about the process more than about policy," Patullo said. "The job is to protect the rights of the minority while allowing the will of the majority to prevail."

He joked that he has always been lucky in that Hampden is a civil town with people who are reasonably respectful, so a Special or Annual Town Meeting has never resulted in rowdy or rude behavior. Over 20 years he has had the opportunity to see transitions throughout the town.

"The biggest change actually happened just before I started the job and that was Proposition 2 1/2. It used to be you had people who didn't want to spend who went to the Town Meeting to protect their money," he said, adding that now there is a certain amount of dollars that has to be in question before the issue can go on the ballot at the polls.

He said the most discouraging year was 2005. "Some of the darkest days were when the budget was so strict that the library and the senior center had to be closed for a year. And it was quite heartening when we came out of that tunnel and we were able to restore some [of those services]," Patullo recalled. "That was rough and it meant a lot to people. Even if you didn't use those services you kind of felt like you were failing."

He said he is semi-retired and still works as an assistant tax collector for the town and manages some real estate on the side. Patullo is also a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Ridgeline and Hillside Committee.

His last time moderating will be at the next Annual Town Meeting in the upcoming spring.