An Interview with Acton’s New Assistant Town Manager

February 15, 2024
Photo of D K Halley
D.K. Halley interviewed Begin for the Acton Exchange on February 7, 2024.

On November 20, 2023, Thomas (Thom) Begin started his new job as Acton’s Assistant Town Manager. He had previously worked in the Framingham School system as Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds. He achieved a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government in 2006 and a master’s degree in Public Administration in 2019, both from Framingham State.

Where did you grow up, and where do you live now? 

I was born in Maine and I was raised in Massachusetts. I went to school in Haverhill, MA. Now, I live in Whitinsville, a section of Northbridge, with my wife.

I understand that you are on the Select Board in Northbridge. Does that experience help you in your current position? 

It’s tough to say exactly how much that’s impacted me one way or the other. I’ve served as a volunteer, elected as a member of the Select Board member and Redevelopment Authority, and as an appointed member of the Boxborough Finance Committee. I have a different mindset coming from those experiences. In a management role I feel that my current and previous roles give me a little bit more of an ability to take a step back and really understand all points of view.

In your current role are you sort of filling in all the gaps, or do you have certain assignments that you have to accomplish?

Right now, I’m trying to tie into town services.When I started, the Town was developing the capital budget, the multiple budget proposals, and how to handle health insurance. It’s been busy with those issues and trying to figure out where I can help. Whatever I can do to help the Town, I’m doing. I’m just trying to make sure that I’m giving the best support I can.

If there was a message you would give to the residents regarding the differences between the budgets proposed, what would it be?

I would say that the best way to know the differences would be to watch the presentations that have been given. Each iteration of the budget, as well as Acton Leadership Group meetings, can be found on ActonTV or the Town Manager’s website.

In your time here–I know it’s only been two and a half months–are you creating relationships with other department heads? Where do you think you fit best in communicating with all the other departments?

I have. I feel like I’ve been able to meet everybody. I’m developing those relationships and starting to figure out the best way for me to support them and make sure that their operations are continuous and don’t hit any hiccups. My role really is to support them in any way that I can and ensure that I’m helping where needed and making sure that everything’s running smoothly.

Do you view yourself as being an expert or utility man?

That’s a great question. I try to strive to be like a real utility player. Yeah, wherever the coach points, I can go and help.

The issues we face each day are constantly changing. One day we could be talking about budgetary needs and capital projects and, the next day, helping to support employee initiatives or working on the sustainability programs for the community, including the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Do you have any thoughts about the diversity of the community?

Acton has an amazing Diversity Equity Inclusion director, Wanjiku Gachugi. She’s done a fantastic job in the year that she’s been here, bringing awareness and education and supporting the community. 

Acton supports celebrations and activities for all cultures. For instance, Acton had a Hanukah menorah lighting in the Town Center for the first time. 

Is there anything that you would like to add to this interview?

I’m just thankful to be here. I’m excited for what the future holds. This is a great opportunity. 

DK Halley was an employee of the Town of Acton from 1978 to 2019. 


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