Selectmen candidates debated wind turbines and affordable housing projects, and potential School Committee members talked about their plans for getting the most out of the limited budget at Meet the Candidates Night Wednesday.
Three candidates for selectman – Selectwoman Veronica Beaulieu, Lino Rego and Brian Valcourt – said they support wind turbines but at a larger scale and at a different location than the failed proposal for a 120-foot one behind Town Hall. Selectman Steven Ouellette supported the proposed Town Hall turbine and said Wednesday it was “very disappointing” to see the town-written contract the contractor would never sign.
Rego and Valcourt also talked about the importance of building so-called 40B affordable housing projects instead of allowing private contractors to build the projects themselves, which can be mandated under state law.
Beaulieu said the Planning Board should deal with 40B projects, not selectmen. The often larger-scale projects threaten the town’s character, Ouellette said.
The three candidates for highway surveyor also spoke and fielded questions. Incumbent Harold “Jack” Sisson touted success in working with various town departments during his four-year term, while challengers Quentin Lord and Kevin Rioux criticized the Highway Department’s work on road signs, drainage and the condition of public roads.
The two candidates for School Committee, Richard Botelho and Craig Dutra, both called for smaller class sizes and the need for better funding.
The methodology of creating the school budget needs to change, Botelho said. He likened it to paying for food and electricity bills before paying for a vacation. Many people he’s talked to, he said, would pay more money for schools if they knew it was going directly to the students.
Dutra said he would first target noninstructional costs for cuts and find surpluses that could be utilized. He has worked with tight budgets as president of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, he said. Students need to be better prepared for college, he said, to land higher paying and more stable jobs.
When asked by an audience member how he would deal with a proposed adult entertainment zone on Route 6, Valcourt said he’d push for the zone in order to eliminate the risk of a judge allowing the developer of a proposed strip club to build on any commercial lot in town. The zone should be smaller, he said, and not include parcels next to Route 88, including the potential strip club site.
There were also a few questions critical of the candidates. One person told Beaulieu that she killed the proposed Town Hall wind turbine and asked if it was one of her proudest achievements. “I did not kill the wind turbine,” she responded, adding that not enough information on the turbine was presented to selectmen and blaming the contractor for not signing the contract or responding to the town.
One person also asked Botelho why he purchased Web domain names for town schools so they couldn’t be used by the schools themselves. Botelho said he was told by a former high school principal to buy the Web sites and that he later donated them to the schools.
By Grant Welker
Herald News Staff Reporter
26 March 2008
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