Friday, April 30, 2010
Time to hear from the candidates
Come to the LWV Forum on Sunday
It is Sunday afternoon, May 2. Put your rake and hoe in the tool shed, leave that yard work for a couple of hours, and make your way to the Clark Room at Town Hall for the Concord-Carlisle League of Women Voters (LWV) Candidates Forum, from 3 to 5 p.m. We have a Town Election coming up on May 18 and here is your chance to become educated about those candidates running for office, whether opposed or unopposed. This is an opportunity to learn why they are running and why you should (or shouldn’t) vote for them.
There is only one contested race, and that is for Selectman. Still, there are the unopposed candidates, who have also been invited to speak. This is our opportunity to ask them questions about the committees on which they have decided to serve.
With the town having recently voted to build a new school building, and a new school superintendent taking over in the fall, isn’t it important to learn of the philosophies of those two individuals planning to join the School Committee?
There are three candidates for the three openings on the Planning Board. What is their take on the Benfield Land Project and future 40B projects for Carlisle? And what about the revision of the Rules and Regulations governing the subdivision of land that is taking place at this time?
Not only is the LWV Forum a place to hear from each candidate, but it is a place for you to ask questions. LWV members will have questions for the candidates, too. If you are unable to attend and have a question you wish to have asked, you may email the Town Clerk chinton@Carlisle.mec.edu with the question, which she in turn will forward on to the League.
These 13 candidates for town office deserve our thanks and appreciation for their willingness to serve their community. Let’s turn out on Sunday to give them support, as well as our thanks, and engage them on the issues you care about.
Recent news beyond Carlisle has been full of earthquakes, clouds of volcanic ash, mine disasters, bombings and other man-made and natural calamities. In Carlisle the news has been the ebbing of floodwaters and the recent passage of an override bill to fund a new building for the school. Twenty-nine percent of registered voters turned out to cast ballots, well below last January’s 76% turnout for the special Senate race. Considering the direct fiscal consequences of the school building project, one might think the turnouts would be reversed. Selectman Tim Hult calculates that the debt of approximately $13 million needed to fund the new construction will add an additional $11,000 in taxes for the average household in Carlisle over the 25-year life of the debt.
Larry Barton, Carlisle’s Finance Director and Treasurer, estimates that the new school building will increase the average tax bill by $149 in 2012, and another $149 the following year. In 2015 the average tax bill will increase by about $300. Thereafter, it should slowly decrease over the following 24 years as the impact of the debt declines (see the article by Barton in the March 26, 2010 Mosquito).
In light of the economic climate – high unemployment, despite rebounds in the stock and real estate markets – the time would appear inauspicious for a new building project and a consequent increase in tax rates. Furthermore, the student population peaked about a decade ago, and has dropped below 675 enrolled students this year. It is expected to drop for the next few years before rising again.
An anti-tax campaign has received national headlines. Why hasn’t it caught on in Carlisle? I believe it is because we have a broad consensus in Carlisle that education is a good thing, and the better the education – with a strong faculty housed in updated facilities – the better our children’s lives. The excellence of the school is also directly linked to Carlisle’s robust property values. An investment in the schools floats all our boats.
The relatively low voter turnout might reveal, in a paradoxical way, consensus. Those less active in town affairs have decided that an investment in school infrastructure at this time is sound policy. They leave the development and implementation of a new school building to those directly involved: mostly, those with children in the school system. A high voter turnout, on the other hand, can reveal division within the community, as last January’s vote showed.
To be sure, the Carlisle School Building Committee has done an outstanding job in developing and presenting the project. Their website, for example, can be easily navigated; it presents information clearly, and answers questions authoritatively. The committee wisely includes a wide variety of personnel, drawn from the school administration and faculty, the community, and various town boards. The members represent a broad spectrum of the town, as well as distinct points of view – personal, provincial and political. The skillful development of the project earned unanimous support from both the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen. Consensus prevailed at every step of the process.
Natural and political disasters will always be with us. But if we can manage our unity as a town wisely, we can meet whatever provocations, hazards, and calamities nature or humanity deals us. As Solomon is reputed to have said in the Book of Proverbs (29:18), “where there is no vision, the people perish.” ∆
© 2010 The