March 03, 2021WOLFEBORO — Each of the six candidates running for the two open seats on the Board of Selectmen had the opportunity to make a pitch to the voters during the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce's Candidates' Night held at the GWRSD's Kingswood Arts Center. It was broadcast live to those at home and may be viewed on Wolfeboro Community Television's You Tube channel.
Luke Freudenberg has previously served a three term on the board and is seeking to return to the post. A graduate of Kingswood Regional High School and the University of New Hampshire, Freudenberg worked for FEMA in years past, and returned to Wolfeboro, where he is the owner of Northeast Dock and Barge.
"I think my leadership skills will benefit the board," said the candidate.
Jody Persson shared that his work experience involved bass tournaments and working in a local marina in the 90s. In recent years he has operated an auto repair shop on Bay St. with his son. He said he campaigned heavily against the town hall and petitioned for a recount when it passed.
"I'm running because of the way the 2020 election went down,'" he stated.
Brian Deshaies, a paraeducator at Carpenter Elementary School for more than a dozen years, and describing himself as fiscally conservative, said he is a cost analyst who will hold the town accountable to the penny and push for more transparency. He also said he is environmentally conscious.
Tim Cronin, involved with the paper industry while living in Newtown, Connecticut, is a relative newcomer to full time residency in Wolfeboro. He soon established himself as a volunteer on the town's energy committee, the committee to select the town manager, and is a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Wentworth Economic Development Corporation. He also served on the 2019 Capital Improvement Planning (CIP) Committee and supervised the US Decennial Census in Carroll County. He presented himself as someone who listens to both sides.
Audrey Cline, formerly a Code Officer for Wolfeboro, said she believes in the opportunity for everyone to be heard and the importance of citizen participation. She has an architectural engineering degree, which she has applied on work with residential structures.
Bobbi Boudman told the audience she would like to "help our civil servants to do their best job." Boudman identified water quality and conservation as a priority and said she would like to assure that the water ways are clean, safe and accessible so that townsfolk and businesses can thrive. She also expressed the view that transparency, accessibility and citizen engagement are important as well.
Candidates were asked for their opinions on article 35, which began as a description of a petition for approval of an ordinance similar to that of Carry and Albee beaches, which includes accessibility for residents, taxpayers, their guests and family members, and local lodging establishments, campgrounds, and their guests but excludes day trippers from out of town, but was amended at the Deliberative Session to ask for the Board of Selectmen to establish a task force "to study the use of the Town Beaches and propose a unified plan for them."
Persson was for keeping the beaches open, as were the other candidates with some variation. Freudenberg said if one beach was to have restrictions, he thought that should be Albee, with the others, such as Carry Beach, open.
"Beaches help the economy," said Freudenberg, adding that they should be open.
Cronin agreed with having one of the three beaches as town only, and Cline felt certain that there is "hybrid solution" to the matter. Deshaies suggested there are "other ways to look at the beach problem," with a possibility for rolling restrictions in the mix.
Boudman said she thought Article 35 came up because of the pandemic and said if programs went on as usual at Brewster Beach, perhaps the town could have avoided "getting to the point of a warrant article." The Parks and Recreation department has no advisory committee, she said. Boudman suggested that such a committee, and "having people knowledgable about the field of education" would have helped.
"If we bring summer camps and programs back to the beaches, our children will be there...the busses won't come in," she said.
Article #11 on the question of authorizing a $300,000 appropriation for extending four recreational finger docks in Wolfeboro Bay, brought strong support from Freudenberg and Cline. Freudenberg pointed out that the expansion was talked about five years ago in a planning discussion held at the Wolfeboro Inn and noted the boats are now commonly 25 feet in length. He said the entire project, including the dock repairs and rehab of the Dockside Restaurant area enhance the gateway to Wolfeboro.
"It's the face of who we are," said Cline. "It's a resource."
Persson supported dock repairs but proclaimed the dock expansions as "a want, not a need. A lot of people are hurting; these are tough times."
Deshaies questioned the Economic Development Committee's numbers and thought having deckhands to monitor the boat traffic in and out might be a solution.
Boudman noted that the Master Plan references dock expansion "six or seven times."
"We do need more business," she said, and she added that she has heard boaters say they are turned away because the bay is small, but she declined to take a position.
Cronin said he would favor two different years for the expansion.
Turning to discussion of the proposed operating budget, Persson called it "wild," Deshaies recommended a tax cap, Cronin, Cline, Boudman and Freudenberg all supported it. Boudman said, though, that she felt the town "needs to do a better job letting citizens know what we are doing."
"Hundreds of hours go into refining that budget," said Freudenberg, responding to the criticisms. "Can there be more cost saving? Perhaps, but there are a lot of eyes on it. It is a sound process from start to finish. Ultimately, it gets voted on by the citizens."
Answers to the question of when town hall should be back open drew mixed responses.
"I think Town Hall should be open right now. It's the first time in history we've quarantined the healthy," said Persson.
Freudenberg thought it could be open following CDC guidelines. Cline urged caution, pointing out that many positions at town hall do not have backups, and Deshaies observed that town hall can't exercise the same control that schools do, while Cronin thought May 1 was a good projection. Boudman said decisions for civil servants need to the same as those we would make for ourselves.
The entire evening's event can be viewed online as aforementioned. Election Day is Tuesday, March 9 at the Town Hall, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.