Tuftonboro voters question the candidates
March 03, 2011TUFTONBORO — Candidate's Night in Tuftonboro, presented by the Tuftonboro Association, gave voters an opportunity on Tuesday, Feb. 22, to meet candidates running for the contested positions of library trustee, road agent and selectman. Gerry de George, President of the Association, introduced Dan Barnard, the moderator, to the assembled crowd of about 100 residents in the Tuftonboro Central School auditorium, and candidates began to introduce themselves and answer questions.
Paul Matlock and Tony Lyon are both running for a term as library trustee. Matlock, a chemist originally from New York, said that one of the first things he did upon settling in Tuftonboro was to visit the library and obtain a library card. To him, the library is an important center of the community and he would like to serve that community.
Lyon, a Massachusetts native, said that he has wonderful library memories that began at the age of 14, and his love for libraries has continued ever since. A former banker, Lyon has served on various boards and committees such as the planning board and the Capital Improvements Program committee and is presently a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment and is head of the Agricultural Commission.
When asked to share their visions of how the library will function in the future, the two both acknowledged the impact of technology on communication of information and the increasing popularity of electronic books but did not see the demise of hard copy materials.
A woman identifying herself as a regular Saturday morning volunteer at the Tuftonboro Free Library asked if they would fight for a new library, adding that there is so little space for the volume of books that, "It takes a hammer and chisel to put books on the shelf." Matlock agreed that space needs need to be addressed, and Lyon, also in agreement, elaborated that that there is pressing need for more room for "people, books, staff and storage."
Road Agent race
There will be four candidates vying for the position of road agent to choose from on the ballot when voters head to the polls at the Old Town House on Tuesday, March 8. All were on hand to present themselves to the public, except Frank Tranchita, who was unable to attend but had flyers available for distribution describing his bona fides as a fireman and work during the past 13 years in the maintenance and construction field.
Incumbent Road Agent Jim Bean presented his qualifications to continue in that job, citing his work over the last two-and-a-half years maintaining and improving Tuftonboro's roads and byways, his ability to stay within the budget and his participation in the University of New Hampshire Technology Center's Roads Scholar program, earning the rank of Master Roads Scholar. That certification represents 100 contact hours of classes in technical road maintenance, liability and safety issues, supervision and the environment.
Bean, owner of a landscaping business, has a crew of six full-time workers and supplements his work force with subcontractors when demand is high.
John LaPolla, who most recently served on the committee studying the town's options for a fire and/or police building and currently serves on the planning board, said that he "loves excavation work and road maintenance" and has been operating his own excavation business for 24 years. If elected, he would plan to use subcontractors and would lease equipment needed for the job. He emphasized that he is strict in monitoring time, materials and labor.
Next up was Jeff Moody, a gentleman claiming 38 years of experience working for the state, including grading and plowing of roads. Moody's son works with him, and he said that he would rely on subcontractors also to fulfill the obligations of the Road Agent post.
Answering a question from the audience on how to reduce costs, Moody replied that bidding is important. LaPolla agreed. Bean added that he has reduced the amount of salt on the roads, which not only saves some money, but is better for the environment, and that knowing the rules is important to protect the town from liability.
Surveyor, budget committee member and former planning board member Donald S. (Ted) Wright is running for election to a seat on the Board of Selectmen in a two-way contest with incumbent and board chairman Carolyn Sundquist.
Speaking first, Sundquist said that she feels it is an honor to serve and that she has worked on keeping taxes as low as possible and that she has honored her pledge to be accessible to the voters by keeping Friday office hours at the Town Offices building.
The welfare policy is now clearer, she said, thus saving taxpayers money, and she included total expenses for each town department in this year's town report.
Sundquist has served as the selectmen's representative to the budget committee and has served on the Capital Improvements Program committee, the Public Facilities Committee and the Employee Compensation Committee.
For his part, Wright said, "The economy is not coming back anytime soon. We have to tighten our belts and work on reducing taxes.
Sundquist countered, "We have very low taxes. In 2009 we were eighth from the bottom out of more than 200 towns." While saying, "It's always a challenge to accomplish projects for the town," she noted that the voters will have a chance this year to conserve the Great Meadow property, an important water resource for future generations, address milfoil concerns by putting aside money for cooperating in eradication efforts with Moultonborough and Wolfeboro, and said that the board has been keeping an eye on Wolfeboro's Rapid Infiltration Basin by supporting water monitoring efforts.
Joe Kowalski said that he noticed that Articles 11 and 12 ask for money related to milfoil control efforts on an ongoing basis and asked for an explanation of that wording. Sundquist replied that the $1,500 request is Tuftonboro's contribution to the three-town committee's expenses for DASH machine storage and maintenance. "It's important to consider," said Sundquist, "that 62 percent of our tax base is on Lake Winnipesaukee.
"Lake Winnipesaukee is our lifeblood," contributed Wright. "$1,500 is a small amount to pay." He said, too, that the volunteerism that is an aspect of the program is important in keeping costs down.
Harry Liedtke of Mirror Lake asked how the two would work to "control ongoing and future expenses" for residents on a fixed income or trying to manage a struggling business. Sundquist noted that the fire and safety facility on this year's warrant will have "no impact or very little on taxes. It is within our capital capacity." Wright said, "One of my biggest concerns is being hit by county and school district taxes."
Discussion of the pros and cons of the fire and police station building proposal arose between audience members, prompting moderator Barnard to redirect questions to the candidates.
Someone questioned whether the town-owned Dearborn property would go on the market if a building went up on the Gould property. Sundquist said she was in favor of that; Wright agreed, but hedged that "in today's economy, maybe we wouldn't get much money for it."
Former selectman and county commissioner Chip Albee, responding to Wright's concern about pressures on residents for county taxes, said, "There is no pressure from the county, so take that off the plate," and led into a question on the warrant article for a custom fire truck. Wright responded, "It needs to fit into the other two stations…There's no way around custom built," but questioned the need for keeping those two both open in the event that a building proposal passes.
Budget Committee member Dave Eaton commented that a custom built fire engine was not more expensive.
Melvin Village resident Cindy Barnard, referring back to Wright's statement on the fire stations, asked him, " Are you committed to keeping the other two functional?"
"It goes against the grain," he answered. "It would require more thought…Mirror Lake is an issue, but Melvin Village I'd look at more closely."
Sundquist said that she is committed to keeping both open and noted that in regard to the fire truck being a custom model, that they are all custom-built these days.
An audience member commented that being within five miles of a fire station is a benefit because insurance ratings go up otherwise, but Wright said that when switching his homeowners insurance, the application didn't ask if there was a fire station within five miles. It only asked if there was a fire hydrant within a thousand feet.
Voters may make their choices on Tuesday, March 8, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Old Town House. Town meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Tuftonboro Central School.