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Two vie for Lancaster selectmen's seat

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
February 24, 2021
LANCASTER — There are two candidates seeking to fill the vacant Select Board seat in Lancaster. Both names should be familiar to all. Rob Christie and Troy Merner seek to have your vote on Town Meeting Day. The Coös County Democrat spoke with both candidates, who offered their thoughts and visions moving forward.

Resident Rob Christie explained why he decided to run, stating "When I was a scout in Troop 219, I took the Order of the Arrow pledge to a 'Life of Cheerful Service.' I am running to be chosen, to serve the people of Lancaster during changing times. A Select Board Member is responsible to local taxpayers. Lancaster runs pretty well, but I see room for improvement."

Christie added that he is running to be part of a great team.

To that note, he said, "New last year, Shane Beattie has served observantly and conservatively. He is a careful businessman with a construction and equipment background, from a family that has served this town for many years. Leon Rideout is our experienced anchor, practiced at the state and county level, and his family is a well-known part of our town."

He went on to address the COVID-19 crisis.

"People and Town businesses are losing money. Long-serving leadership is changing [retirements of our strong Town Manager and a board member], and many departments are 'aging up' and need support to grow within. Board oversight can improve. And because I love Lancaster and its' people: good, bad and ugly," said Christie.

Christie went on to state his goals for the Town.

"To ruffle feathers without fear when it's needed.

To hire, guide and assist a new town manager. To bring new skills to the Select Board team

To keep Lancaster first. Keep up what we are doing well, and improve where possible. Provide more transparency (information) for the taxpayer and to faithfully comply with laws, work to improve them and encourage younger volunteers and interest in Town business," he said.

An important point Christie made, was to listen and to hear taxpayers, keep Lancaster affordable by spending wisely and to consider returning surpluses to the taxpayers without cutting it too close.

"I want to keep taxes down, improve support for departments, improve financial management and maintain compliance with laws and procedures," said Christie.

Christie went on to explain, "If you look at our last 50 years, we have had level to declining fortunes here. Same number of people. Twenty percent fewer students. Big plans for growth that has not come. Everyone wants growth, if it brings prosperity. The truth is, it hasn't happened, the Town is the same size as in 1960. So, we need to plan for staying the same. We also need plans for bad times and plans for change from COVID migration. To review our large investment in equipment and aging infrastructure for opportunities to save money. Your Budget Committee is already doing this, and it needs to continue."

Christie explained that he works hard, does his homework, listens and reaches out to many constituencies.

He said, "Since 2018, I have gone to most Town board meetings, have led the reorganization of a local Board (Lancaster Conservation Commission). I do my homework, have long management training and experience, and love Lancaster. I am a professional: a trained manager (MBA, with business and municipal committee and board experience). I have worked both in corporate management and direct blue collar jobs (RN). My professional work is now centered on Project Management."

A summary of Christie's background is as follows: New Hampshire born (Hanover), Lancaster since 1961. Dartmouth Graduate (BA). MBA at University of Virginia: Manufacturing Management and Finance. Industrial Management career in Steel, Oil and Gas, and Financial Services. Taught Architecture (Rice University) and Pre-Hospital curriculum (ATLS, ACLS, BLS, BTLS, EMS-I). Health Care Practitioner (second career- Trauma/Surgical RN/ Grad work in Anesthesia (Baylor College of Medicine), and Inner-City School RN). Divorced; one grown daughter. Retired. Municipal Volunteer (Lancaster Conservation Commission Treasurer and Secretary). Also a fun-loving singer at Open Mic nights, And two-year Last Place winner in the HillBilly Olympics!

Lastly, Christie said, "I am Lancaster centered. I have always always kept a home and family property here. And have come back to 'retire.' Our family has been a big part of founding our schools and the hospital, our biggest employers, and I will keep up the work."

Running against Christie is local Representative Troy Merner.

On why he is running, Merner said, "I am running for selectmen for the town of Lancaster, and I would like to thank Leo Enos for his years of service on the Board and his endorsement of me replacing him."

Merner went on to offer some background, "I am currently a state rep for Coos District 7 which includes the town of Lancaster. I'm on many local boards. With my experience over the last 12 years being involved in the community in many ways I feel that I can do all the jobs of maintaining the infrastructure and overseeing the town's business keeping our taxes at bay."

He explained, "I have worked on a lot of bills that affect our taxes and our community. The one bill I worked on for two years was a utility tax bill which is going to save the town money. I have been heavily involved in economic development and currently have a couple of broadband bills that will help the region."

Merner explained that he works closely with the Chamber of Commerce and in 2016 received the Directors Award for the work he has done for the community.

Lastly, Merner said, "Every board that I've been appointed to I take very seriously and give it my full-time attention and most of all I love hearing from the constituents. I am proud to be a past President and current Board member for the Rotary Club in Lancaster which is done three major projects over the last six years in town. I would like to thank the voters of Lancaster for the overwhelming support over the last three terms I've served in the state house and look forward to serving them on the Select Board."

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