Friday, May 21, 2004
Candidates meet voters at League of Women Voters forum
Concord-Carlisle League of Women Voters President Cindy Nock welcomed some 25 voters to the Clark Room at Town Hall last Sunday to meet, hear, and question 16 candidates for town offices. Moderator Mickey Williams from Acton insisted on a strict time structure and made sure each candidate had equal time. Excerpts from questions and answers are below.
Tom Raftery, candidate for Town Moderator, commented that he "used to enjoy doing cartoons at Town Meeting, but I can't do that from the podium." Answering a question about his views on "bundling" quick issues into a "consent calendar" to shorten the meetings, Raftery replied that Carlisle Town Meetings haven't often exceeded one night to get business done. "Last time, we raced through 23 of the 24 articles. Concord," he said, "ran four nights. I don't think we could get the attendance unless we went out and arrested people," and said that if the Warrant were overly packed with Articles, "it would certainly become feasible to consider a consent calendar. We're just not there yet."
Incumbent Charlene Hinton said, "Although the job is part-time, 20 hours a week, you have to be available after hours to assist people." Margaret "Peggy" Wang, Hinton's opponent in the race, noted that she is glad to be "part of a neighborhood that supports its children and its elderly," and noted also that "a flexible environment is necessary to serve the community's needs as Town Clerk."
Board of Selectmen
Deb Belanger and Tim Hult, both running uncontested for Selectmen's seats, offered suggestions for working "the process" of cooperation between goal-oriented committees, Belanger focusing on the process and on consensus and Hult citing the "FinTeam," a "supercommittee of people working on the fiscal issues of their committees" as an example of cooperation, and suggested creating the same sort of supercommittee to deal with land use. In answer to a question about converting Town Meeting to electronic voting and live telecast, both candidates expressed affection for "the way we do things now," that Town Meeting is a "special form of government," that they would hate to see altered with electronic voting. Both favored live telecasting, however, and suggested research before making any significant changes.
Board of Assessors
Candidate for Board of Assessors James Marchant noted that, "Twenty-four years ago when I first moved here, I never thought about running for public office." He felt, however, that his experience in the residential appraisal business affords him a specific perspective, which will allow him to "give something back" to Carlisle.
Board of Health
In a contested race, incumbent Martha Bedrosian of the Board of Health and her opponent Farhad Vazehgoo both stressed the need for "balance between existing regulations and protecting our health and resources." Bedrosian emphasized the need for educational outreach, to heighten public awareness of regulations and how to live with them, while Vazehgoo asserted that regulations are always necessary, but should not put an undue burden on citizens. "Regulations," he said, "should be balanced with common sense."
James "Jim" Bohn, candidate for Housing Authority, described his background working with the Federal Reserve Board in Washington D.C. and the Industrial Development Authority in Arlington County, Va. as being tools which would allow him to be "a dispassionate analyst" of current information and "decision-maker" on the Housing Authority.
Priscilla Stevens, candidate for Library Trustee, would "strengthen the ties and facilitate the exchange of ideas between the trustees, staff, Friends of the Gleason Library, library patrons, and town government [in order to] improve library services generally, consistently, and creatively, regardless of economic climate."
This year the Planning Board term of office changes from five years to three and all seven board members are up for re-election. In order to stagger terms, two seats are for one-year terms, two for two-year terms, and the remaining three for the full three-year terms.
Kent Gonzales, running against incumbent Phyllis Zinicola (who was not present) for a one-year term, sees himself as "an apprentice," learning the board's regulations and functions. He mentioned the need to "balance commercial development, which is lacking here in Carlisle, with the need to remain small and rural in character."
Three of the five candidates competing for three-year terms were present at the forum. Richard Boulé, presently an associate member of the Planning Board, highlighted the need to learn the "details and voluminous regulations" with which the board must deal. Kenneth Bedrosian assured voters that his "position will be unbiased and well-informed." Peter Stuart saw his experience on several town committees and his career in architecture with experience in mediation and arbitration as qualifications for the board, "now that I have some time and would like to participate."
The audience questioned the candidates on cell towers, a town master plan, and their positions on allowing low-impact businesses in town. The Planning Board has no official position on cell tower siting, as it is the province of the Board of Appeals. Stuart cited a "comprehensive plan in the making, to be finished sometime this spring," and both he and Boulé addressed the need to "define low-impact business." Both Boulé and Bedrosian highlighted the necessity of implementing "what the town wants."
Carlisle School Committee
In the final presentation/question session, both candidates running for the two available seats on the School Committee addressed their particular interests in preserving the quality of education in Carlisle. Christy Barbee is particularly interested in "how people learn," and in studying ways to alter our education models: "we need innovation in our schools in order to make education affordable and effective for all kids and their families." Wendell Sykes said, "We are close to the point where housing is going to have a significant effect on the quality of education we offerwe should be able to sell the changes, and we need to stop setting senior citizens and parents against each other at Town Meeting. It is the quality of education that sustains the value of our homes, our principal assets."
© 2004 The