Wolfeboro Candidates Night well-attended
March 04, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Candidates running in the contested races for seats on the Board of Selectmen, police commissioner and school board stood up to answer questions in the nearly full Skylight Dining Room at the Region 9 Vocational Center on Tuesday, March 2.
Zach Tarter, president of the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce, opened the evening's program with introductions of the moderator, Steve Guyer, principal of the Vocational Center, and the candidates.
Laurie Jones, Charlene Seibel, Chuck Storm and Gary Watson are running for the one spot of the Board of Selectmen; Incumbent Diane Drelick and William Piekut are on the ballot for the school board position; and Ron Goodgame, George Hutchinson, Sr., and incumbent Ben Ladd are vying for the seat on the Wolfeboro Police Commission.
Piekut and Hutchinson both were unavailable for questions, and sent their regrets.
Suzanne Ryan asked candidates how they would improve the management of the finances of whatever department they would represent and asked for their priorities.
Laurie Jones replied that she had not been involved in the process, so would need to learn more before answering that question specifically, but cited her experience as a business owner.
Charlene Seibel pointed to Article 18, which proposes a professional evaluation of the conditions of four town buildings and the solid waste facility, as a good place to start in prioritizing what is needed to do and when.
Chuck Storm commented that for one, he does not think the town needs to spend $134,454 for bathhouse improvements at Brewster and Carry Beaches as described in Article 16. Speaking as a handicapped person, he feels that ADA approved portapotties would be sufficient.
Gary Watson commented that there were big jumps in some items in the budget that were too much with the present economy.
Drelick said that the school building project in the budget is producing a good product, but added that she would favor more local control.
According to Ben Ladd the police budget has stayed close to zero, except for mandated costs (90 percent of the budget is for payroll). He added that the department has pursued available grants successfully and will continue to do so.
"The police department is the first line of defense," said Goodgame, "and it's only five percent of the budget." He said that he thinks the Police Benevolent Association is important and promised to give his $600 salary to it, if he is elected.
Other questions pertaining to finances were the idea of privatizing the Municipal Electric company, to which Jones responded yes and the others expressed the need for a cost/benefit analysis, and whether the town should impose user fees for boat launches and the tennis courts, which none of the selectman candidates supported.
The future of Brewster Memorial Hall was raised by Joyce Davis. Watson was against it, citing parking issues and stating a preference for a single story building: Jones said she would like to see a couple of bids and would like to see private money involved. Seibel said she would work to build consensus on both the board and in the community. To her the issue as "morally and ethically correct" and pointed out that the master plan recommends the preservation of historic buildings.
Storm, who has served on a town hall study committee, recalled that votes on proposals for Brewster Memorial Hall have always received more that competing plans and said that it provides enough space. If elected, he would give it "full effort."
Opinions were sought on Article 9, to abolish the Historic District Commission, along with the question of whether candidates might support Article 10, which asks voters to create a second historic district commission.
Only Watson said he would abolish the present commission, and he did not comment on Article 10. Storm pointed out that it is the selectmen's job to see it is run correctly. Seibel said that she sees the current controversies as part of a transition phase from a more "neighborly" style to a board that is more closely following land use procedures.
When asked about committing time for the homework that goes along with the jobs they are running for, and a commitment to attendance at meetings, all candidates said they were cognizant of the demands and ready to serve fully.