March 04, 2015MOULTONBOROUGH ⎯ Voters had the opportunity to speak with candidates for town offices during the annual Meet the Candidates Night.
Town Moderator Jerry Hopkins moderated the event at the Lion's Club on Friday night.
Kelly Marsh, Chuck Connell, Josh Bartlett, Jean Beadle, and John Anderson are running for the two open slots on the board of selectmen.
Marsh is a Moultonborough Academy alumnus who has worked in many communities as a firefighter and paramedic. She also has a small teaching business doing CPR instruction.
Marsh said she will represent the people and will put the people's wishes first over anything she might personally like. Marsh said she is a watchdog for tax dollars, as she is a taxpayer herself. She said she will also treat the people with civility and fairness.
"I'm an independent voter, and I will always keep you in mind when I make those choices," Marsh said.
Connell served as Moultonborough's town administrator for 11 years, leaving for a town manager position in Littleton in 2007. He has also served as town administrator of Henniker. Connell said after his experience with boards of selectman he decided to run in his own community. He said he will use his extensive town government experience and continue that role to help the people in the community.
"As a selectman, I commit to you that I will listen more than I talk, I commit to being accessible to you and, most importantly, I would commit to supporting your right to know to observe and contribute to what's happening in town," Connell said.
Beadle is the chair of the Advisory Budget Committee and has served on other committees including the Heritage Commission, the Master Plan Subcommittee, and many others
Beadle described herself as a fiscal conservative who exercises common sense leadership.
"As your selectman I will support an environment where our businesses can flourish and support career opportunities for out families," Beadle said.
She said she will work to support and engage local business owners. She also wants to protect the town's natural resources and maintain its rural character.
Bartlett is the current chair of the Planning Board and serves on the Capital Improvements Program Committee, the Village Vision Committee, and many other committees.
Bartlett said he believes in transparency and "the rules should be the same for everyone."
"Some of you may disagree with me on a few things, but please know that there are many more things we will agree on, and I promise to listen to you," Bartlett said. "If you have a better idea, I am eager to hear it."
Bartlett said the town is facing challenges including demographic changes and economic challenges. He is an advocate for inter town participation and protecting natural resources.
Anderson is an 11 year resident of the town. He said he does not support big government, as it only spends money. He said he would want to keep the values and government that Moultonborough has had for 250 years.
Candidates were asked if they would support Article 29, a petition article that will eliminate the town administrator position effective May 1.
Petitioner Eric Taussig later gave a presentation on the article. The reasons stem from the removal hearings that took place for planning board members Josh Bartlett and Judy Ryerson over the case of Bear's Nest Trail LLC in 2013. The selectmen voted in favor of keeping Bartlett and Ryerson in their positions. A citizen petition was submitted with asking the selectmen not to renew town administrator Carter Terenzini's contract, though the selectmen later renewed his contract.
Petitioner Joe Cormier later said that the petitioners did not want the position to go and would recommend against the article if Terenzini's contract was not renewed.
All of the candidates said they would not support an article that would eliminate the town administrator position. Candidates said that position is necessary with the scope of work in managing the town.
Bartlett was one of the subjects of that hearing process. He said while he would not want that position eliminated, 200 people signed a petition not to renew the town administrator's contract and the board of selectmen ignored it.
"I think the petition and the warrant article is a last resort and I think it is very, very important that the people of this town understand a how unhappy a lot of voters in this town are of the person in that town administrator position," Bartlett said. "I think we need a town administrator, I just don't think we have the right one."
The population and town demographics were another important issue. The candidates were asked what the town's role should be in addressing its declining population.
Anderson said the people would need to decide if the town should entice more seniors or more younger people. Anderson said in order to have a more significant population of younger people there would need to be more jobs.
"That's hard to do because we really don't have any jobs in town," Anderson said.
He said the town would have to be more conducive to businesses that would bring offer reasonable wages to employees. He also said he did not have any problem with the community becoming more like a retirement community.
Bartlett said the demographic shift and the declining population can be reversed and spoke in support of getting more young families in town, He said he did not see any reason for the population to significantly grow, though he was not fond of seeing it shrink.
He said the main focus should be jobs and business. Access to broadband could help address some of these issues.
Beadle said there is a need to promote the town and stop the negativity that the town is becoming associated with.
She said the town needs to promote business and broadband is a major part of that, especially with the opportunity for working at home. She said she would also want to strengthen education.
Connell said the question relates to the importance of the Master Plan.
"That's a pretty big part of identifying what the community sees for itself," Connell said. "It's going to be a concerted effort of people working together."
Marsh said they should look at the short and long term goals of the town. Attracting business would be another priority, something she said would increase the tax base. Marsh said Moultonborough could be a bedroom community like Canterbury, though the taxes in that town tend to be higher.
The candidates were asked their opinions on if the town should have a gym facility or recreation complex.
Marsh said she would want to see more information on any options before making a decision. She said she read through the studies and it sounded like the concept needed more work.
Connell said he has seen much discussion on it and said it appears the community cannot make up its mind. Overall, he said he did not think his opinion is important on the subject at this point.
Beadle also said she does not think there is enough information to make that decision and she would want to look at all the options in the UNH study.
Bartlett said he agreed with Beadle. The option for a gym facility was included as the fifth option in the UNH recreation study to be considered. He said the UNH study also includes four other options for consideration, including cooperation with other towns and other departments. He said it is not clear that the town needs such a facility and much more information is needed.
Anderson said he has been opposed to having such a facility since the beginning of discussions.
"I don't' feel that the town needs this," Anderson said.
Anderson said he does not know how many thousands of dollars the town has spent over the years in examining this option. Any facility would also come with many more costs for utilities, staff, maintenance, and other costs.
The other contested races are for town treasurer with Laura Hilliard and Amanda Bergquist running for the position.
The other contested race is for Zoning Board with Robery Zewski, Tim Tinel, and Robert St. Peter running for the two open seats.
All the other town and school district offices are uncontested.