Barnstead candidates make their pitches


March 02, 2011
BARNSTEAD — Candidates Night was held at the Barnstead Town Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 23, with a packed crowd of concerned citizens and many of the candidates running for election.

Elaine Swinford, who is the incumbent in the position of the Overseer of Public Welfare, has seen an increase in families coming in for support.

She said that three years ago 71 families were coming in for support, but in the past month, 147 families have come in. Swinford said she uses the food pantry as a tool for families in need. If families come in and are struggling to pay their bills, she suggested using the food pantry as way to save money. Swinford said the thrift shop helps pay the bills for the food pantry and wanted to point out that it is not directly connected to her position as Overseer of Public Welfare.

John (Jack) O'Neil, who left the welfare department three years ago, talked about the challenges that families face during the cold winters and his love for working with people.

Since the meeting O'Neil chose to drop out of the race for personal reasons.

Priscilla Tiede is one of five candidates running for the two positions on the Barnstead Board of Selectmen.

Tiede has been a resident of Barnstead for 33 years and has worked at Barnstead Elementary School for 21 years. She is running because she wants to work on complaints she has heard from the people.

"I feel it's time to respond to the town," Tiede said.

When asked what kind of complaints, Tiede talked about the insertion of the town administrator into the budget. She feels that issue should have been addressed with a warrant article. She feels that the greatest challenge to the town is getting people working together even when they don't agree.

Tiede also feels that the town needs to become refocused on adopting a Master Plan.

Gordon Preston, who was on the board previously, has never seen an economy this bad. Preston supports regionalization and thinks that the school board and the board of selectmen need to work together in the future.

Preston pointed to the proposal of building a new parking lot at the elementary school that would have cost $391,000 that has since been rescinded as an example of un-needed spending.

"We can't go on with things like this," Preston said. "Let's get real."

Jim Barnard is the incumbent and the current chairman of the board of selectmen. He feels that there are many issues facing the town and that the board needs to figure out a better way to spend the town's money.

"Everyone is on a fixed income," Barnard said. "People are at their limit."

He said that it takes a selectmen a good two years to get settled and get their feet on the ground.

Barnard supports regionalization.

"If we could get better service and better resources and pay less than half, why wouldn't we do it?" Barnard added. Barnard also supports the town administrator position that is listed in this year's budget.

He feels it is important to fill the position so that citizens have someone to go to when an issue arises.

Andy Houle is also an incumbent running for re-election on the board of selectmen. He is against the position of the town administrator because he thinks it is a waste of money.

Houle supports videotaping and broadcasting the board of selectmen's meetings on television. He also supports regionalization of the police department, but wants to make sure it will save the taxpayers money before going forward.

Houle also brought up the fact the part-time building inspector is paid $38 an hour, while they could hire a full-time building inspector for $20 an hour.

"Decisions need to be brought to the people, and the people need to make the decisions," Houle said.

Houle said that this would be his last term as selectmen if re-elected.

Francis Vardaro, who is also running for board of selectmen, was not in attendance.

Ed Tasker is running for one of the two open positions on the budget committee. William Haynes and Danielle Krause are the other two candidates and weren't in attendance at the meeting.

Tasker said he decided to run because he only saw one incumbent listed at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, the last day to sign up. Tasker has served the town before and focused on street lighting and road salt. He is concerned with where all the salt goes.

Tasker supports the idea of having a town administrator who works for the selectmen, but thinks $80,000 is too much to pay for that position.

Shawn White is one of three candidates running for the two open positions on the Barnstead School Board.

White is a special education teacher at Coe-Brown and is currently pursuing graduation studies at Plymouth State University. He feels that the number one focus of the board should be ensuring the education welfare of the students.

White also thinks that there needs to be better communication between the administration and the teachers and the school and the community. He also thinks regionalization of the school should be examined, having a joint SAU with Alton and having one administration and one superintendent.

White was asked about a conflict of interest because his wife works at BES. He responded by saying that he would recuse himself from any matters regarding teachers' salaries and issues that would affect his household

Maureen Fitzpatrick is an incumbent running for re-election on the school board. She was first elected to the board in 2002.

She wants to continue to give time to the community. Fitzpatrick wants to continue to deal with No Child Left Behind and help improve the test scores.

When asked about accelerated education, she said that is up to the teachers to address that and that they should come to the board for approval of new programs.

She is concerned with space issues at the school and thinks that the buildings and maintenance department at the school still needs a lot of work.

Brian White, who is also running for school board, was not in attendance at the meeting.

Francesca Latawiec is one of four candidates running for the open positions on the Barnstead Planning Board.

Latawiec served in the board in the past and feels now is the time to do really good planning.

She feels that the board should spend less time reviewing applications and more time planning.

Clarke Goodrich is an incumbent running for re-election on the planning board. He was appointed to the board in 2008 and was then elected in 2009.

Goodrich takes pride in rewriting regulations. He recalled spending hours working on developing rather simple driveway regulations.

He was questioned about the signage in town and why the planning board didn't support what the taxpayers voted on. He explained that there was only one meeting held and that it wasn't really explained. Goodrich thinks this is issue that should revisited in the future.

Kathy Preston is also running for election to the planning board. She feels that some members on the board have been very anti-business.

She feels that the planning board should help everyone who is trying to run a business work together with other departments, and the board should help facilitate and not hinder.

Preston supports bringing more businesses into town and pointed to a neighboring town, where 28 businesses are located outside of the downtown area.

She would love to see a theatre in town and talked about the possible development of a 55 plus community with shops located within.

William Evans, who is the current vice chairman on the board and is running for re-election, wasn't in attendance.

Randy Kelly is running for position of Road Agent. Kelly is the current maintenance manager at Locke Lake. He has a background in all kinds of equipment and worked at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and has worked for FEMA.

Kelly worked with a fleet of 38 vehicles while working for the speedway.

He thinks that there is a lot of drainage work to be done on the roads in the town. He currently doesn't have a CDL, but knows he would need to get one if elected to the position.

Kelly was asked about his computer skills and feels that he has adequate computer skills. He was also asked about how to deal with trucks that are starting to break down.

"When you start to spend more money than a piece of equipment gives back, it's time to get rid of it," Kelly said.

Christopher Carazzo is the incumbent Road Agent and has been in the position since 2008. During his time he has seen a tornado and three floods.

He maintains 80 miles of road, which translates into 160 miles of ditch. He said that his department has come in under budget in each of the last three years.

Carazzo feels that the town needs to start putting more money into the dirt roads. He was asked about subcontracting for road maintenance and explained that it wouldn't save the town a lot of money. Carazzo also talked about his accomplishment of being a Master Road Scholar at UNH. This has helped him with projects throughout town in the past.

Carazzo was asked if he thought his position should be hired, rather than elected.

He responded by saying he wouldn't want to be appointed to this position, but that the board of selectmen would have to make that change.

Vernon "Chris" Hipkiss pointed out to the citizens in attendance that he didn't file on time to run for reelection as school moderator. He asked for a write-in vote for the position.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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