Friday, May 1, 2009
Town election candidates field questions at LWV Forum
On a sunny Sunday afternoon with temperatures hovering around 85 degrees, nine candidates for elected office came to the Town Hall to participate in the League of Women Voters’ Candidates Forum on April 26. This year’s only contested seat will be for the position of Library Trustee.
Library Board of Trustees - Two candidates, one position
In this year’s only contest, Jay Luby and Larissa Shyjan are both running for the position of Library Trustee. Moderator Erin Pastuszenski noted that contested elections are important to the democratic process and thanked both contestants for providing the electorate with a choice.
Jay Luby described himself as a good listener, someone who asks good questions, a team player and someone who follows up on commitments. Luby stated that he sees fundraising and restoring and preserving the historic building as key issues.
“I’ve used the library since I moved here,” Larissa Shyjan stated, “and I would like to give back.” “I want everyone here to love it and find it useful.”
Role of a library trustee:
Luby sees the role of a library trustees as one of governance: overseeing operations, functioning as financial stewards and developing a long-range plan for the library.
Shyjan agrees with Luby, but added that maintenance and repair of the building are the biggest problems facing the library right now. She also stated that the library needs to be prepared to reach out to the community.
Experience with building projects:
According to Shyjan, should the town vote to spend Community Preservation Act funds for library repair and restoration, the trustees would be responsible for overseeing the building project. Shyjan stated that she has gained experience with building projects both at the company where she worked as general manager and again when she and her husband built their home in Carlisle.
Luby stated, “We are very fortunate to have wonderful people on the Library Building Committee.” Luby noted that he has been an officer at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord and has worked on a variety of building and repair projects.
Area in which you would be most excited to focus your time and effort:
“The library is our town treasure,” Luby stated. He explained that he would enjoy using his background in investments and marketing to enhance the library legacy fund.
Shyjan would like to get involved in planning the building maintenance. She also would like to encourage every townsperson to visit the library to see what the library has to offer.
Interface between the public and the trustees:
Shyjan explained that townspeople really get to know the library through Library Director Angela Mollet who then passes what she learns from townspeople to the trustees. Shyjan said that trustees tend to spend a lot of time in the library and are often approached by residents who have questions or comments.
“The more communication the better,” said Luby as he displayed several postcards that the library has mailed to residents. Luby stated that he would encourage the public to interface with the library.
Board of Selectmen - Two candidates, two positions
Peter Scavongelli stated, “It is incumbent upon all of us to give back to the community,” and since he has recently opened a small local law office, he finds he has time to devote to the town.
Incumbent Doug Stevenson, who would begin his fifth term on the board, says that he is running for two reasons. The first reason is because he loves the town. Stevenson is a life-long resident whose parents still live in town. The second reason, according to Stevenson, is job satisfaction. He stated that he enjoys serving the community and working with members of other boards.
“I went to the fifth grade in the Highland Building,” Stevenson said. “It is a wonderful architectural piece in Carlisle Center.” He added that he has been supportive of using CPA funds to restore the building. “I think now is the time to take action.”
“I did not go to the Highland Building for fifth grade,” Scavongelli began. “I think more information is needed . . . My nature is to ask questions.” He added that the issue that the BOS needs to address is to know how to spend money now to avoid having to spend more money in the future.
Stevenson said that he has been fairly outspoken on this issue and has asked that the school committee (CSC) use a more deliberative process. “It would be a real shame if we move too quickly and give up our autonomy and uniqueness.” He added that he was pleased to see that the CSC is moving a little more slowly to make sure that there would be a real financial savings involved.
Scavongelli said his “immediate reaction is to ask what is in the best interest of the kids,” and would like to see further information about cost savings.
Benfield affordable housing:
Scavongelli stated that the BOS must focus on the issues, needs and concerns of the abutters. He added that the BOS must make sure that the water supply is protected and that there is zero impact on abutters’ property values.
Stevenson stated that he was not originally supportive of the Benfield housing plan. “I think we need to protect abutters and our finances.” He added, “We have done a good deal to protect abutters.”
Stevenson stated that he is usually in favor of term limits, but that it is less of an issue on a five-member board, and that it is important to maintain a sense of decision making history from one term to the next. He noted that there are only two elected positions in town that are not part of a multi-member board, the town clerk and the town moderator. “I think this atmosphere is more of volunteer spirit than in generating political power.”
Scavongelli agreed stating that term limits are less of an issue with multi-member boards. He also noted that only one of this year’s positions will be contested. “One of the difficulties in a small town is getting people to run.”
Transparency in town government:
Scavongelli noted that it is important for town boards to articulate their positions clearly and to make issues available for everyone to see.
Stevenson stated, “There is a great deal of transparency already,” citing the open meeting law, the fact that the BOS meetings are televised and the town website. “I do occasionally hear that from citizens and I am open to suggestions. . . I hope people with questions will attend meetings.”
Board of Health: Two candidates, two positions
Mark Caddell sees serving on the Board of Health (BOH) as a great first opportunity “to give back to the town.”
When asked what skills he would bring to the board, Caddell responded that the BOH currently has a good deal of engineering expertise, which he sees as particularly helpful when addressing wells, septic systems and protection of the water supply. He stated that he would bring a medical and scientific approach to the board.
Caddell sees protection of water quality, emergency preparedness and insect-borne disease as the town’s most pressing health concerns. Noting that spraying against mosquitoes has always been controversial in town, Caddell stated that, “Mosquitoes are a huge issue. I would like to see a balance in terms of mosquito control and health issues.” In terms of 40B developments, Caddell stated that a major concern of the BOH would be protection of the water supply.
Michael Holland, incumbent, is also running but did not attend the forum.
Housing Authority: One candidate, one position
“It has been a privilege to serve the town for the last five years,” began incumbent James Bohn adding that he wants to make affordable housing available to more Carlisle residents. Bohn stated that his focus this term has been to reconfigure the Benfield affordable housing plan from family housing to senior housing which he feels is more consistent with the neighborhood, to advocate for housing for disabled and handicapped residents and to expand the educational aspect of the Housing Authority.
In response to a question about what he has learned during the current term, Bohn stated, “Carlisle is a small town. I have learned that members of the community are both my constituents and my neighbors. I have learned to appreciate the value of compromise.” Bohn said that his goals for the next term are to expand affordable housing opportunities for disabled/handicapped residents and to work on the 2010 Affordable Housing Plan for the town.
Moderator: One candidate, one position
Wayne Davis said that he considers it a privilege to take part in helping the town govern itself via Town Meeting, adding that it is the responsibility of the Moderator “to make sure that Town Meeting is run fairly and effectively.”
When asked what skills he will bring to the job, Davis responded that he has experience in mediation, negotiation, teaching and law, but added that temperament is important in a moderator. He said that his ability to listen, to be respectful, to be curious and to balance formality with a good sense of humor would help him as Moderator. In response to a question about helping residents understand the Warrant, Davis stated, “It is the responsibility of the voters to become informed.” He added that the Moderator could reach out to people who will present an Article at Town Meeting to help them prepare.
Board of Assessors: One candidate, one position
When asked about the role of the assessors, Kenneth Mostello stated, “The Board of Assessors is there to ensure fairness of tax assessment. It is not a policy board.” He stated that his experience in listening to people and addressing issues brought before him help qualify him to be an assessor. He added that he will take the state sponsored course for assessors.
Town Clerk: One candidate, one position
Incumbent Charlene Hinton has degrees in accounting, math and computer programming and is a Certified Public Accountant.
In response to a question, Hinton stated that her budget was not cut this year, but that her department is working “at bare bones.” Most of the work done by the Town Clerk is required by law, and therefore cannot be cut back. When asked about the possible increase in costs related to Article 24 which would provide workers’ compensation coverage for the Town Clerk, Hinton was not sure of the change in cost. She said she found out that she did not have workers’ compensation coverage last May when she was injured when lightening struck the Town Hall while she was on the telephone.
As the meeting closed and Barbara Lewis of the League of Women Voters reminded everyone to vote on May 12, Hinton added “Absentee ballots are available now.” ∆
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