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Councilors talk about re-election plans Some say they will run; others undecided

September 03, 2009
Mayor Deborah Cutts is among those who are undecided, she said Tuesday afternoon.

"You always wonder who might come along, and what they might have to offer," she said over the phone. "I'd like to wait and see what others are doing before I decide, but once I've made my decision, it won't change, it'll be straight ahead."

Due to some recent health related concerns, Assistant Mayor Andrew Austin said it's (the decision to run or not) "a tough question, but if I had to say today whether or not I'll run for re-election, I'd say the answer is yes, I will."

Austin was named assistant mayor last year following the resignation of mayor Scott Pope. Then-assistant mayor Deb Cutts was obligated by law to fill Pope's vacant seat, and the council then voted to have Austin replace Cutts.

For Austin, it's all about staying the course.

"I'm afraid if I don't run that the person who takes my place will have completely different ideas," he said over the phone last week. "And I'd hate to see everything we've done go down the tubes."

Austin said he believes the tax issue will be one of the biggest in the coming elections.

"We're in an interim period," he said. "In terms of bringing industry in and building the tax base. Unfortunately, some people will have to suffer during that period. I can relate because I'm a senior citizen and we're some of the most affected by it.

"But," he continued, "I always try to look at the future, and I feel lucky to have worked with (city manager, Guy) Mr. Santagate because I believe he takes the same approach."

Austin added that education should be at the top of everybody's list.

"I'll pay whatever it takes if it means we have the best schools and the best education we can for our kids," he said. "But if we don't put education number one above everything else, we might as well move back to the dark ages."

Ward III Councilor Jeff Goff also said he plans to run for re-election, though he's not yet sure whether it'll be for his current ward seat, or perhaps for an at-large bid.

"I'm waiting to see who files and for which seats," said Goff recently over the phone. "It's not a definite yet which spot I'll run for, but it's definite that I'm running."

Goff echoed Austin's sentiments.

"We've invested so much in this city," he said. "Whether it be the infrastructure, economic development, or the environment, I'd hate to see others come in and just cut, cut, cut just for the sake of cutting [from the budget] I'm all for lowering the tax base, but it has to be done intelligently, through growth of your economic base."

As a member of the group spearheading the proposed new recreation center in Claremont, Goff said he envisions the city as "somewhere you want to live, not just as a destination for dining or recreation."

I'd like for people to see us as a city with responsible government," he added, "and to be viewed as a community of people who look to the future and set their own course."

Councilor Keith Raymond, who currently holds one of four at-large seats on the council, said Monday evening he plans to run for re-election, seeking his second consecutive term.

"I'm just waiting to see who else runs," he said over the phone. "I live in Ward II, and there's a chance I'll run for that seat, but it depends on what happens. I'll probably stick with the at-large seat, but we'll see."

Councilor Thomas "Toby" Batchelder III said he would not seek re-election.

"It's mostly to do with time," he said over the phone Monday night. "To be an effective member of the council, I feel you need to be able to give a 100 percent. Between my job and my family, it's just too much."

Batchelder acknowledged that he'll miss the work.

"It was a tumultuous two years at times, but I think we successfully righted the ship and I'm proud of the things we did."

At-large councilor Robert Picard was also reached for comment, but replied "I haven't even considered that yet."

At-large councilor Kyle Messier also said she's still in the decision making stage.

Ward I Councilor Chris Lewis and Ward II Councilor Paul LaCasse did not return calls regarding their plans.

Candidates can file for the election as early as Wednesday, Sept. 16, but no later than Friday, Sept. 25. City elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Martin Lord Osman
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