Letters of Support

I cannot think of a better candidate for Concord’s Select Board than Mark Howell. I’ve known Mark for over 20 years through our church, First Parish in Concord and I would love to shed light on another side of him. You’ve probably heard about his extensive experience and involvement with town government and community projects, but I would like to highlight his commitment to young people and his gifts around collaboration.

Ever since I’ve known Mark he has carved out time to mentor and teach young people. When I was Youth Director at First Parish, Mark mentored youth in our Coming-of-Age program and was always willing to chaperone a youth trip. He works well with young people by quietly modeling honesty and integrity with a dry sense of humor. He continues to work with the youth group at First Religious Society of Carlisle today. His commitment to social justice is a gift he gives young people, exemplified by his ten trips with youth to City Reach, an overnight urban outreach program for young people to learn about homelessness from people who have experienced it.

Mark is authentic and collaborative. He gets the work done in an efficient, competent way without a lot of fanfare. When there are disagreements about how to handle things, he builds bridges by quietly helping groups come to consensus while making everyone feel heard.

A hard worker, Mark never complains and makes work fun. I can’t think of a better person to dig into the hard work that Concord faces as we steward this wonderful town into the future. His passion for working with young people will keep him focused on all constituencies as he builds bridges to help us make a better Concord together.

Mary-Wren vanderWilden

Simon Willard Road

Tim Hult: Howell has the understanding, experience and temperament

March, 2023 

To the Editor,

Please consider voting for Mark Howell for the Select Board in the upcoming election.  I have come to believe that there are two attributes that can allow a person to be an outstanding Select Board member.  First, that person should have a strong fundamental understanding of the core values of the community.  As importantly, the person should have the experience and temperament to  balance to  the many issues that come before the Board in a manner that is true to those values.

I believe that  Concord values excellence in education for all, the preservation of both the physical environment and the cultural aspects of the community, and the ability for a wide range of individuals to afford to reside here and enjoy the town.   Mark, having lived in town for many years and having worked for the town government, has a clear understanding of  these values.

I also believe that Mark possesses the experience, temperament, and balance to manage difficult issues in a way that reinforces these core values.  He is experienced in town government, an excellent listener, and has proven himself to be a practical problem solver with a reasonable, balanced temperament.

There is no doubt that  in the coming years the town will face many  difficult issues regarding capital improvements, environmental sustainability,  housing and affordability. The resolution of these issues will require experience, patience, and compromise.   We would be fortunate to have Mark Howell  on the Select Board as it works to  resolve these challenges in a manner that is consistent with our values.


Tim  Hult

South Meadow Ridge

I am writing to urge your support for Mark Howell for Concord Select Board at the March 28 Town Election. I have known Mark for 20+ years and have come to admire his dedication to the town, his strong work ethic and his level-headedness. Mark brings to the table a fountain of knowledge and experience that matters. He was an IBM executive for over 30 years, and served as the town’s first Chief Information Officer for 8+ years. His volunteer efforts include six years on the Town’s Finance Committee (including one term as Chair), service on the Build Thoreau Committee, and the Fiber Broadband Completion Task Force. He is bright, energetic, articulate, knowledgeable, a good listener and he knows how to work within the minefield of municipal government and its bureaucracy. If he wins, he is capable of hitting the ground running.

I served as Town Clerk during Mark’s tenure as the CIO, so I had first-hand experience with Mark’s no-nonsense problem-solving skills when my office moved to the second floor of the Town House during building renovations. Mark planned and coordinated the move of our telephones, computers and network so that we didn’t miss an operational beat. During this move, my computer was hit with a ransom virus, a problem which he solved quickly and capably (with no ransom paid). Mark was always innovative, creative, and willing to look “outside the box” to solve a problem—a skillset not common in municipal government.

Mark knows how to work collaboratively to attain positive results. I believe that he is a good match for what Concord needs now as a leader on the Select Board. Please join me in voting for Mark.

Anita Tekle

Virginia Road

We enthusiastically write this letter in support of Mark Howell for the Select Board. We know Mark primarily through First Parish where he generously gave of his time to many aspects of church life.

One February afternoon we were on the team hosting a large forum on the issue of family homelessness with several state representatives and senators coming. Our person in charge of technology—including the sound system and managing the slide shows for six speakers—fell through at the last minute. We did not know Mark well in those days but had seen him in the balcony managing the sound system for the Sunday services. I called him at home and asked if he was free to come set up and stay for a three-hour forum. He did not hesitate. The forum went off smoothly.

We watched Mark at many town meetings, as member and chair of the Finance Committee, and as IT person. His demeanor was always calm and respectful, and he was always prepared. And we practically danced in the streets when the town, under Mark’s direction, got Broadband and we could tear up our contract with an internet provider that shall not be named.

We can see from reading the letters that have appeared in The Concord Bridge in support of Mark’s candidacy that our experiences with Mark are consistent with others in town who have worked with him in town government or on volunteer projects.

Mark knows the town and its recent history very well and has connections with many citizens as well as people in town government. He will represent those who agree with him and those who do not with equal respect and with a genuine interest in learning from them.

Please vote for Mark on March 28.

Jane and Burce Blumberg

Lowell Road

In 2021, while preparing a citizen petition to support our municipal fiber optic network, I crossed paths with Mark Howell, now a candidate for Select Board. Mark recognized that assessing the successes and need for improvement to fiber deployment was appropriate, and agreed that a task force mechanism would clarify citizen-focused policy recommendations. He became the chair of our Fiber Broadband Completion Task Force (FBCTF) and marshalled the Task Force members’ sometimes disparate views into a united work product. Our report was well received by the previously skeptical Light Board, and the Broadband division is now implementing many recommendations. As the former Director of Telecommunications, Mark and other visionaries built Concord’s fiber network from zero. It now serves over 1,600 customers and 80% of town addresses have access.

The need for safe, secure and future-proof broadband with top speeds has never been greater. The FBCTF concluded that this local resource can be implemented in ways that matter to residents and local businesses. Fiber is closely aligned with Concord’s Sustainability Principles. Glass-based strands transmit data with no mined, precious metals, and with less energy than wireless transmission. In contrast to radio towers and small cells, which compete with trees and vegetation, fiber does not require towers or cells. It does not generate electromagnetic fields, avoiding associated health concerns. Mark realized the first homes with fiber access were easier-to-reach single family homes, not multi-dwelling units that are typically less expensive, creating an equity and inclusion issue. On the Select Board, Mark will push for taking up the important topic of fiber expansion and adopting appropriate, citizen-informed recommendations. Moreover, his work on the FBCTF exemplifies an approach to problem-solving that will benefit future Select Board endeavors.

Gail Hire

Nancy Road

Who we elect to the Select Board matters. Let me take a moment, please, to tell you why I will vote for Mark Howell.

I know Mark particularly because of Concord Broadband. The town’s fiber-to-the-home broadband service started, after many twists and turns, from an idea I initiated a quarter of a century ago. Mark, the newly appointed town’s Chief Information Officer in the early 2010’s, had much less funding than usual for a telecommunications startup, heightening the startup risk to the fiscal conservativism of a AAA bond-rated town.

Sitting in Mark’s office at Concord Municipal Light Plant, I appreciated his acumen firsthand. Mark’s considered strategic choices, alongside his day-to-day practical management,produced a vital, special service in town that reached positive cash flow early, and grew, and continued to grow.

Then, after 8 ½ years in the job, faced with a policy dictate that he simply could not endorse, Mark tendered his resignation. This showed a principled foundation that we can only hope to find in all of those whom we elevate to Concord’s highest position.

Finally, when the need arose recently to take his Concord Broadband to the next level, Mark, now as a citizen, stepped up to chair a task force. Meeting almost weekly for nine months, they offered the town a thoroughly specified platform going forward.

From this experience, Mark obviously knows the town in wide detail, both the town offices and schools, and the citizens and businesses, served. Much more than that, he brings seasoned and proven – practiced and practical – judgment. Most of all, he offers us a principled path forward.

I invite you to join me in voting for Mark Howell, Select Board.

David Allen

Heaths Bridge Rd

To the Editor:


Town Manager Chris Whelan appointed Mark Howell to be Concord’s first Chief Information Officer the same year I first served as town moderator.  Everyone familiar with town meeting knows how important technology is to its smooth operation.  Hundreds of documents, pictures and maps have to be coordinated with dozens of speakers.  And mikes, cameras, and displays need to be coordinated seamlessly across three venues (auditorium, cafeteria and gym).


Mark and his staff and I worked together through a dozen annual and special town meetings.  Mark’s 30 years of IBM professional experience were consistently on display.  So were his character and his principles.  


Those additional characteristics impressed me greatly.  Mark’s working style, including at times of high stress, is calm and collaborative -- demonstrated when making on-the-fly adjustments  with a thousand discerning voters waiting for the process to proceed.  And I was consistently appreciative of Mark’s steady focus on the big picture and long-range objectives.


Recently a U.S. Supreme Court Justice quipped that they were “not like the nine greatest experts on the internet.”  Technical expertise can be an important addition to any policy body.


We will be fortunate to have Mark’s collaborative style and long-range thinking, in addition to his technical expertise, on our select board.


Please join me in voting for Mark on March 28.




Eric Van Loon

Marthas Point Rd

It is a good thing to have Mark Howell as a candidate for Concord’s Select Board. From personal experience, I know that Mark is a critical thinker who can examine a situation, analyze and assess the issues from all points of view, and devise a creative, practical, and cost effective solution.


20 years ago, when a new Alcott School was still in the planning stages, Concord had a problem. We needed a new Thoreau School too, but with limited land, there was no room to construct a replacement building without tearing down the old one. Thinking ahead, Mark and the other Build Thoreau Committee members looked at all the options, examined costs and benefits, and thought out of the box to come up with a solution: use the original Alcott building as a swing space. This plan allowed a new Thoreau to be built as quickly and efficiently as possible while saving the town hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Other people have written about Mark’s many contributions to the town - his six years on the Finance Committee, his work to see that fiber-to-home broadband is distributed equitably to Concord homes, his commitment to sustainability and diversified housing - but as the Thoreau school librarian for 22 years, including time in both buildings, I am especially grateful that his work with the Build Thoreau Committee resulted in our beautiful school.


I have every confidence that Mark will approach any issue with the same critical thinking skills, the same creativity, and the same passion to arrive at a fair, efficient, and cost effective solution. And isn’t that exactly who we want on our Select Board?


Karen Pettyjohn, former Thoreau School Librarian

Ministerial Drive

I had the pleasure of working for Mark Howell for eight years in the Town of Concord’s IT Department, and cannot think of another citizen who would be a better fit for the Select Board. When I was hired, Mark was the only IT employee, having inherited an aging IT infrastructure and much pent-up IT demand. Within a couple years under his leadership, he and the team he built had replaced all failing hardware, upgraded much of the software, and established a responsive help desk. Simultaneously, he planned, staffed and implemented the fiber broadband service that many of us enjoy today. 

Much of what we accomplished was due to Mark’s leadership, town government knowledge and values. Many IT leaders have deep technical expertise and formidable business acumen, as Mark does, but what sets him apart are other qualities. Mark has a deeply collaborative work style, in which he is interested in hearing all opinions, with an open mind. He actively encouraged his staff to suggest new ideas, and provided support for us to bring them to fruition. In meetings with other departments, he was most interested in hearing how IT could be an ally, to streamline their work and eliminate “points of pain.” I imagine that some staff initially worried that too much time spent listening meant slower projects, but instead, projects proceeded rapidly, because of the buy-in and robust planning. He built a level of trust and reliability within the town, such that senior leadership depended on him not only for his technological expertise, but for his overall understanding of town government, finance and each department’s role (IT touches everything!).

Leslie Koplow 

Prescott Road

At our Town Caucus on Jan. 30, I was pleased and honored to nominate Mark Howell for a position on our Town Select Board. I have known Mark for more than 20 years and have come to respect and admire him as a good friend, a fellow church-goer, a committed citizen, and an all-around solid, reliable, thoughtful, considerate, and kind man. Mark lives out the values of fairness, honesty, service, and sustainability, and he will be a true asset as a member of our Select Board, where we will all benefit from his wide range of talents and skills.

After a long career with IBM, Mark served for eight years as Concord’s first Chief Information Officer. In that role he planned and started Concord Light Broadband, which is the Light Plant’s fiber-to-home Internet Service. Mark chaired the Fiber Broadband Completion Task Force from 2021 to 2022, which studied how to equitably bring fiber to all of Concord’s residents. Mark’s formal roles in service to Concord have also included six years on the Town Finance Committee, where he served as clerk, vice-chair, and chair.

Mark has embraced numerous other community roles including service as a delegate in our Sister City Program with Nanae, Japan; as a founding member of the Build Thoreau Committee, which proposed using the old Alcott building as swing space; and as a youth mentor leader at both First Parish in Concord and First Religious Society in Carlisle. Please visit www. markforconcord.org for more information about Mark’s background, qualifications, and vision.

Mark will be a hardworking and fair-minded member of our Select Board, and I urge you to vote for Mark at our upcoming Town Election on March 28.

Peter Nobile

Coburn Hill Road

Given the challenges and opportunities in Concord at this time, I cannot think of another person who will meet these needs as a Select Board member more than Mark Howell. One only needs to look at Mark’s volunteer participation on the Build Thoreau Committee, six years on the Finance Committee, Chair of the town’s Fiber Broadband Completion Task Force, years as Concord’s first Chief Information Officer and over 30 years at IBM. 

He has given years volunteering in our town and importantly worked for the town so he understands the process and complexities involved in its management. I believe it is imperative that at least a few Select-Board members have been on the Finance Committee and Mark checks this box as well as many others. Mark was instrumental along with two other concerned citizens to stop the ill-conceived plan to abolish the town’s Personnel Board a few years ago. That action resulted in a renewed focus by the Personnel Board that will collaborate with and support the valued employees of this town and management. 

Whether it is school construction, years on the important Finance Committee, the town’s digital infrastructure, serving as the Chief Information Officer for the town or collaborating with citizens to create a needed task force, Mark Howell is the right choice for the Select Board.

Paul Macone

Grove Street

Mark is a kind, intelligent, and thoughtful listener. He has experience both in town government and in the private sector and knows how to work with others to solve difficult challenges.

He believes progress toward sustainability, diversified housing, and creating a more welcoming and inclusive community may best be accomplished through solutions born of collaboration between citizens interested in each area rather than through the single-minded pursuit of separate projects.

He understands that we want this to be a town where teachers, town employees, health care workers, and those in the service industry have good housing options available to them right here in Concord. A town where seniors can afford to stay in their homes and families know that the schools are working to meet the needs of all their students.

Like all of us, he wants a town where the climate and culture is welcoming to all who live here, work here, study here, or simply visit. Mark’s lived experience as the son of an interracial couple has always informed his worldview. This is a perspective we need in town government.

To learn more about Mark, check out his website at markforconcord.org. He also has many coffees and meet and greet opportunities in the month ahead including the Concord Carlisle League of Women Voters has scheduled a televised candidate forum for Sunday, March 5, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Concord Town House Hearing Room.

The election is Tuesday, March 28. See the Town of Concord Election and Voting page for early voting and Absentee Ballot information. The voter registration deadline is March 17 for this election.

Please join me in supporting Mark. Concord needs Mark Howell on the Select Board.

Joseph Palumbo

Black Horse Place

Produced by the Committee to Elect Mark Howell, 2023