Friday, May 6, 2005
Candidates for town office offer experience, commitment, ideas
There promises to be a bit of excitement in town elections on May 31, as several qualified candidates have come forward, resulting in contested positions on the Board of Selectmen, Housing Authority and Board of Health. On Sunday, May 1, the League of Women Voters sponsored a "Meet the Candidates" session, moderated by Cindy Nock of Carlisle and Ellen Harde of Westford, at which each candidate could state positions and respond to questions. A common theme emerged as candidates agreed that Carlisle is at a crossroads as a result of the influx of 40B developments, and planning and managing for growth will present a unique challenge in the next few years.
Board of Selectmen
Three candidates have come forward for two positions on the Board of Selectmen: Bill Tice, John Williams, and Alan Carpenito.
Bill Tice of Audubon Lane says his senior management position at Raytheon brings him "lots of experience sets," including the ability to interact with people from top scientists to workers on the manufacturing floor. He has also supervised construction projects and forsees that this experience may be useful as the town faces the likelihood of new school construction. He describes his style as "collaborative, people-oriented, but not afraid to make decisions."
Tice has lived in Carlisle for thirteen years. He has daughters in the second and sixth grades at the Carlisle School. His background is in electrical engineering with an MBA. He has been involved in affordable housing issues while on the Planning Board the past three years, and notes, "It's important to take control ourselves" because if developers direct the future of housing, they will add few affordable units as a percentage of total. He supports looking at town bylaws for ways to include affordable accessory apartments and exploring other creative ways of achieving the state goal of adding twelve affordable units per year.
John Williams of Hart Farm Road recently moved here from Lincoln. His family chose Carlisle for its rural character and "values similar [to] Lincoln." He is president of two companies offering "all services, financial and others" for families. His job requires judgment, negotiation skills, and financial knowledge. He met his wife when he was at divinity school studying for the priesthood, and, smiling, notes that as a result he lost out on his chance for the papacy. Although his family is new to town, Williams is fully committed to Carlisle. "We're here on purpose. I expect to leave 104 Hart Farm Road toes up followed by a grieving widow."
Williams has made the rounds of town board meetings and believes Carlisle has many strengths, including "great talent, generous volunteers, a strong knowledge base, and foundation support." However, he sees a need for better communication and cooperation between boards and committees. "Long-term planning is key. It has begun and I applaud that." Regarding affordable housing, "We simply have to do it." He notes the town's financial health is good, with an excellent Moody's rating and debt capacity which, "we'll probably need to use. But that's not a bad thing," compared to the cost of waiting while developers move ahead.
Alan Carpenito of South Street is campaigning to give a voice to people who "have lived in town thirty, forty, fifty, even sixty years, whose needs are not being represented." He points to "older citizens who do want to stay here." He says, "We need to work within the means of all the citizens." He wants affordable housing done "in an economical way. We must cut out bells and whistles."
Carpenito has lived in Carlisle for sixteen years and has two sons at the high school. Over the past year he has been a member of the Benfield Task Force representing neighborhood issues. He calls himself "blue collar" and notes that his job as an iron worker has him working on bridges and buildings throughout the area.
Eugenia Harris and Susan Stamps are candidates for a seat on the Housing Authority. Eugenia Harris of South Street is a software engineer who has lived in Carlisle for eight years. She admits she "has no experience in town government," but is "very interested in housing issues" particularly in the areas of architecture and design. She has attended Benfield Task Force meetings and has closely followed the progress of affordable housing in Carlisle and other towns.
Harris supports mandating that a percentage of any new development in town be affordable. She says such as system is in place in Bolton, where developers can opt out by donating to a trust fund for housing initiatives. "We're not alone in trying to solve this," she says, noting there are federal and state grants, housing trusts, and CPA funds that may be available. Other avenues to explore are grants for housing for the disabled or for green buildings. She believes a housing consultant, such as was employed for Benfield, could provide direction.
Susan Stamps of Cross Street is an attorney who has lived in town for thirty years. She served for fifteen years on the Personnel Board. She notes with pride that during her tenure the board went from no job descriptions to full wage and classification, "a huge step for town employees toward fairness." She is chair of the Democratic Town Committee and notes, "Even if you don't agree with my politics, I think you will agree we are quite well organized under my leadership." Her experience in family law shows her ability to read laws, work with people, and get things done.
Stamps believes the Housing Authority "is going to be the hottest board in town. The town's finally woken up to the fact we need to be proactive." She supports Harris's idea of mandating affordable development, and would like to look at changes to town bylaws to allow multi-family zoning and accessory apartments.
Board of Health
Two candidates for the Board of Health are Larry Bearfield and Bill Risso. Larry Bearfield owns Ferns Country Store. He points to his "strong working relationship with the Board of Health" and his "expertise in food codes and other health and safety issues." He also believes his "clear lines of communication with residents and businesses in town" would be a strength. "
Bearfield has lived in town for ten years and is about to become a grandfather. He is a forty-three-year volunteer with the Boy Scouts and was previously employed by a Boston ad agency. He was a cofounder of Carlisle Citizens for Tax Fairness and a member of the town's revenue enhancement committee that undertook an analysis of departmental fees. He says his ownership of Ferns offers few opportunities for conflict of interest, as the store has come before the board of health on only two routine occasions. As a board member, he would recuse himself from any vote that might represent a conflict.
Bill Risso came forward as a candidate after hearing the board "needed technical people in my profession." He has experience in solids, construction, and septic design, and in interpreting and applying codes.
Risso has been in town for fifteen years and has one student at the high school and one in college. He is a civil engineer and helps manage Boston airspace through the FAA. He has provided technical assistance on the school wastewater treatment facility and will "work to protect the water resources of the town." His greatest strength is technical expertise. "I could add to the Board of Health's talent."
Three candidates who are unopposed also introduced themselves. Nicole Burkel of School Street, up for re-election to the School Committee, notes her "collaborative work style and visibility in the community" have been strengths in her first term on the School Committee and as Regional School Committee liaison. She has two children in the public schools. She sees major challenges in reducing staff turnover at the schools, improving benchmarks at each grade, and dealing with space needs and aging facilities.
Mike Fitzgerald, also running for School Committee reelection, brings extensive town government experience, having formerly served on the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen. Fitzgerald is chief financial officer at a biotech company. His children are in college. He currently chairs the Regional School Committee and has focused on budgetary issues and teachers' contracts. He is also helping devise a plan for "an aging, inefficient facility at the high school" and "a K—8 space crunch."
Phil Conti, who has lived in town for twenty-seven years, is finishing his first term as library trustee and is running for a second. He is working on an informational newsletter and fundraiser for the endowment, and is also focused on developing a long-range plan for the library.
Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 23, with elections on Tuesday, May 31.
Information on the League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle is at HTTP://LWVCC.MA.LWVNET.ORG.
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