DENNIS – The battle over a shellfish hatchery’s plan for a wind turbine on beachfront property has prompted one project opponent to make his first foray into local politics.
Richard Watts, vice president of the anti-turbine group called Save Our Beaches, will run against veteran Selectmen Paul McCormick and Sheryl McMahon in the May 14 town election, because, he said, it’s time for some “fiscal responsibility.”
Watts, a retired businessman who has lived in Dennis for 32 years, criticized the selectmen for joining Aquaculture Research Corp.’s ultimately successful lawsuit against a regional historic commission that had prohibited the turbine’s construction.
“The ARC case is indicative of poor use of public funds,” Watts said.
McCormick, who has been a selectman since 2001 and is current board chairman, said the wind turbine court case cost the town a little more than $30,000.
The selectmen participated in the suit, McCormick said, to support the Dennis Historical Commission, which had deemed the turbine appropriate for the proposed location.
The selectmen were demonstrating support for the continued vitality of the shellfish hatchery.
“It’s a very unusual business and supplies seed from almost Deer Island to Block Island,” McCormick said.
Watts said the court case expenditure isn’t the only concern he has. He noted the financial implications of some proposed town hall renovations, as well as a ballot question to staff an ambulance on the north side of town through a $356,376 tax increase.
Watts said he believed the ambulance proposal could lead to additional future costs.
McMahon, a selectman since 2004, defended her board’s financial decisions, saying the panel “has done a phenomenal job, considering the financial times.”
McMahon called Watts “basically a one-issue candidate.”
The three will have the opportunity to face off at a candidates night planned for April 24.
Other than the three-way race for the two selectmen’s seats, the only contest on the spring ballot is a six-way race for three constable terms.
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