October 11, 2012[Editor's Note: Because of its length, the report on this debate will be continued in next week's paper.]
WAKEFIELD — "You folks are going to have a real choice here in philosophies," David Babson told an audience in Wakefield Oct. 1 during a candidate debate sponsored by Concerned Residents of Wakefield (CROW).
Babson (R-Ossipee) and his opponent, incumbent Dorothy Solomon (D-Albany), will face off Nov. 6 as Carroll County voters head to the polls to select which one should be elected to a two-year-term as District Two Carroll County Commissioner. The CROW debate was a mild-mannered and courteous back and forth between the candidates who were given many of the questions in advance but were also asked several questions submitted by the audience.
On several items they do not agree. Babson does not support the Blue Loon public transportation bussing system while Solomon does and even sits on the county's transportation advisory board.
Old nursing home
Solomon said the greatest accomplishment of her four-year commission term was working together with many others to get the new nursing home built and have the project come in $2 million under budget. One of the main reasons she decided to run again is to be able to work towards bringing a homeless shelter to the old nursing home. Babson does not support the idea. Both are in favor of relocating the UNH Cooperative Extension into the old home. Both were emphatic that while the old home is no longer suitable for use as a nursing home, it should not be torn down.
"By reusing the facilities, by renovating them and by using the wings the county will save over $100,000 just in not tearing down the wings, let alone how much it would cost to tear down the old building, It is useless to tear down something that still has life left in it," said Solomon.
County taxpayers currently shell out about $43,000 to pay the annual rent for the Extension office in a privately owned building in Conway Village.
"I've been opposed to tearing it (the old home) down from day one. We pay $43,000 a year for their rent in Conway. At some point if the Extension goes out of business, we have nothing. If you move them to the county complex and invest the same amount you are spending in rent into the building and have it functional, then you will still have a facility that is rentable as an office," said Babson.
Babson said he would like to see a portion of the old home used for storage as he hopes the county will develop a much-needed and cost-saving central purchasing program for county departments. "We should be combing purchasing and using our purchasing power to reduce costs. Frankly, I don't understand why the counties don't all get together to purchase commodity items as a unit and then distribute them from a central location. I can't imagine how much toilet paper, computer paper, pens, paper is used across 10 counties and we should be combining our purchasing power," said Babson.
With two grievances and a harassment complaint filed in the past year alone, costing taxpayers about $46,000 in legal fees to investigate and resolve them, commissioners were asked if it has just been a bad year or if there is a much bigger problem brewing.
Both agreed with two hundred employees there are bound to be some who are unhappy or who have concerns that need to be addressed.
Babson was very straight-forward in his initial response to the question. "There are some malcontents working at the county. Steps should be taken to either retrain them or suggest they work someplace else," he said. He added that the problem does not appear to be the actual grievances but the way those grievances were handled. "You don't go around telling people if they have a problem they can come to you and you will work it out. Workers should have to follow the chain of command," said Babson. He promised if elected he will work to reduce the number of grievances.
"There is no problem that can't be handled as long as there is no exacerbation of the problem from the outside," said Solomon, "When the board works together much that is positive can be accomplished."
[To be continued next week]
The Oct. 1 debated was videotaped by Ed Comeau and is available for viewing in its entirety at www.governmentoversite.com.