PLANNING BOARD CANDIDATES (l-r) Vaune Dugan, Fred Tedeschi and John Thurston presented their views and answered questions at the 10th Annual Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce Candidates Night last Thursday, March 1. The three are running for two open positions on the planning board. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
March 08, 2012WOLFEBORO — A handful of citizens braved the elements on March 1 to attend the 10th Annual Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce's Candidates Night, held at Brewster Academy's Anderson Hall on South Main Street. Of the contested seats, only the three candidates for the two open seats on the planning board were on hand for questioning: Vaune Dugan, Fred Tedeschi and John Thurston.
The one other contested seat in Wolfeboro is that of Police Commissioner, where incumbent Joe Balboni, Jr. faces a challenge from John R. White. Neither Balboni nor Wright were present.
Residents will be asked to vote on March 13 to offer approval or choose among several candidates to fill 15 positions. Unopposed incumbents are in the majority with: Randy Walker on the ballot to serve as moderator; Sarah Silk and David Bowers up for reelection to the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen; John Burt offering to serve as Treasurer and Mary O'Brien as Trustee of Trust Funds; and John Burt, Bob Moholland and Harold Parker reupping for the three open three year Budget Committee seats.
Matt Krause, a newcomer to the scene, is running as a write-in candidate for the one year term available on the Budget Committee.
Moderator Randy Walker posed questions collected and brought forward by the Chamber to the three candidates on stage. Dugan introduced herself as a former member of the planning board and an architect, who has also served on the last Master Plan committee. Dugan described herself as someone who follows a "keep it simple" philosophy.
Tedeschi moved to Wolfeboro from New York City, where he spent a career in corporate law, in 2003. He said he read the Master Plan before making his decision to relocate and respects the document as a guiding force in developing policy. In his opinion, "we need to preserve what we have," with development proceeding in an orderly fashion. More outreach to the public is important in his view as well as more routine review.
"I think we have to establish a balance between the natives and the new people," said Thurston, a local contractor. "I think some of the new regulations disregard the natives," he offered in introduction. "They're getting burdened with restrictions."
All three said that they would be able to attend meetings regularly. Dugan, who has recently moved back to the area, said that she hadn't attended any in the last year because she was not in Wolfeboro, but commented that she had excellent attendance when she served on the board, though she had young children at the time.
Tedeschi noted that he has attended six Planning Board, three Zoning Board of Adjustment and three or four Board of Selectmen meetings in the last year, admittedly in connection with his concern about the zoning for group homes, in particular a group home in his Eagle Trace neighborhood. "I think a disabled person has the right to choose where to live," said Tedeschi, but he drew the line at having a business in a residential area.
Thurston said that he has watched meetings on Channel 25, and as his own boss, his schedule is flexible.
When asked for an opinion on encouraging the presence of box stores in Wolfeboro, neither Dugan or Tedeschi were in favor of having such stores in Wolfeboro, expressing the opinion that they do not fit with maintaining the town's rural character. Dugan said she thought it might be a detriment to local merchants.
Thurston, on the other hand, said that he thought it would help expand the tax base by employing more people. "There are people in town who live on the lake, who owned box stores," said Thurston, urging people to "keep an open mind" on the matter.
The candidates were asked their views on the application process for permits. "It's easy, it's online and there is information at town hall," said Dugan. While Tedeschi claimed that he has not had any trouble with the process, he said he had an idea for a more interactive form, similar to a life insurance form he was familiar with, and offered to assist in developing one.
Thurston indicated that he is comfortable with the process since he is a builder but cautioned, "Some rules are tough to understand for average folks. Everyone needs to understand them."
What would have likely been a question period of about half an hour if shared with other candidates introducing themselves to the public and stating their views, expanded to an hour and a half in their absence. The threesome responded to questions regarding the 10 planning board articles on the ballot, all of which require a majority vote, with each candidate bringing personal experience either as an architect, a lawyer or a builder to bear on each issue.
Voters will have the opportunity to make up their own minds on March 13 in the voting booth. The 10 technical articles are all available in detail on the town Web site, www.wolfeboronh.us: click on the link titled "2012 proposed zoning changes" or in hard copy at the Town Hall. The Voter's Guide, printed in the Granite State News, is also available in paper form at Town Hall and the library as well as in digital form on the town Web site.