Clark challenges incumbent for fire commission seat
February 17, 2010
Kevin Waldron, seeking re-election as a commissioner in the Tilton-Northfield Fire District, said when he first ran three years ago it was at the urging of members of the public who liked his background as a former volunteer firefighter, experience with Stewart's Ambulance Service and as a small business owner. He said his term has been a good one, although he admits it was tough at times. That made him pause to think long and hard about seeking re-election, and he turned once more to those who first encouraged him as he weighed his decision to run again.
"I sent out a mass email asking if these same people would support me - if they think I did what they elected me to do the first time - and it came back 100 percent positive," Waldron said.
Owner of Handyman Extraordinaire, he says he comes from a "family of self-employeds" and he himself has been on both sides of the payroll, taking it in and handing it out. That has taught him some fiscal responsibility over the years, and he has been known at commission meetings for stating, "Bond is a four-letter word." He fully believes in living within your means and keeping expenses to a minimum within the district where he himself is a taxpayer. His motto, he said is, "you pay as you go, and if you can't pay, you don't go."
When asked about the future of the district, Waldron said he would like to see it stay as is.
"Absent the big push for a major expansion, the district wouldn't be facing dissolution today," he said.
Referring to the expansion proposed by Tilton's Life Safety Building Committee as "too much, too fast and above all too expensive," Waldron said he would use the report recently released by the commissioners' Facility Review Committee as an outline for any future expansion.
He respects the fact that Northfield has the right to look into options available, saying, "That's the only thing that hadn't been looked into."
His wife, Dina, is a member of the Northfield Fire Services Committee, but he said their relationship is one in which individual opinions and goals are respected and supported.
"It's not a problem for us," he said.
The family lives in Northfield where Kevin and Dina have five children between them.
While Waldron's position as fire commissioner takes up a lot of his time, it is something he feels is important, and he will continue to work for the district "as long as the people want me there."
Among his accomplishments, Waldron puts being the driving force in bringing the district to its current debt-free status at the top.
"When I took office we were making payments on four vehicles. This didn't make sense to me because we were sitting on enough money to pay off three of the four, which we did in 2008. In 2009 we paid off the fourth and we paid cash for the chief's new vehicle," he said.
In seeking re-election, he promises to work to keep costs down while continuing to provide high quality fire and emergency medical services.
As candidate for a seat on the Tilton-Northfield Fire Commission, Tilton resident Patrick Clark said his sense of respect and appreciation for the community runs deep, and he feels strongly that the longstanding history of the Tilton-Northfield Fire District should be preserved. Clark acknowledged that to be "joined at the hip" for 143 years is not easy, and difficulties and disagreements in any such organization are bound to arise.
"Our challenge is to find ways in which those differences can be used to our joint benefit," he said.
The past few years have found the two towns battling over the fire district and the time has come, he said, to craft policies and decisions that are in the best interest of both communities.
"I think we need to start thinking of the positive reasons for staying together."
Last year he was part of a campaign in Tilton to take a second look at the 61 Business Park Drive purchase for a possible Life Safety building. The central reason he wanted that re-examination to take place, he said, was because the Fire District's input had not been sought in that purchase.
"I consider the riff over this past year between the two towns as a bump in the road and a natural course of events. It's time now to pull together as we look ahead," he said.
Clark has stayed in touch with the issues by attending committee meetings in both Tilton and Northfield whenever possible, along with monthly Fire Commission meetings. He has been involved in investigating grant opportunities that might be available to the district and also helped pen the proposed bylaws for TNFD this past year.
Clark comes from a family with a strong sense of volunteerism. His mother was an active community member who donated her time to many causes while raising her family, instilling in him those same values. After graduating college in Minnesota, he moved to New Hampshire. Through his work at Spaulding Youth Center he met his wife and many people who became his mentors in his life, like Dick Smart, Jim Dodge and Dick Pucci, who were all committed to making their communities, both Tilton and Northfield, a great place to live.
"The thread that tied these people together was trust. We trusted that what they had to say was probably best for all of us. I have tried to bring that quality with me into every community challenge that's come before me," he said.
Clark hopes to bring his years of experience, both professionally and as a volunteer, to the role of fire commissioner. He has been involved in local Democratic politics, has been a member of the Winnisquam Regional School Formula Committee, the Pines Community Center board and the Tilton Riverfront Park Committee. He is on the Board of Directors at the Spaulding Youth Center, is an Advisory Board member at the N.H. State Prison and is a long time member of the Tilton-Northfield Rotary Club. The Rotary, he said, has a four-way test, which asks members to look at an issue by asking if it is the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendships and will it be beneficial to all concerned.
"I hope to bring these ideals to the Fire Commission if I'm elected," he said.