FAIRHAVEN – As with most candidates’ forums, more is generally said than gets reported. Sometimes a revealing quote doesn’t make the pages of the newspaper because of space limitations.
This week, we decided to go back over our notes from the March 12 and March 18 candidates nights and see what else we could dig up that might be interesting to voters.
The event was held at the Carousel Family Fun Center. It was sponsored by the Fairhaven Business Association. Questions were submitted by the public.
selectmen’s introductory remarks
Selectmen’s candidate Steven Riley called himself a “paperless candidate” in his introductory remarks to explain why he is not putting up signs. He said he has gotten ahead in life “not by being popular” but by working hard.
Charles Murphy said he’s learned to be a good listener in his work at MOLIFE and as a licensed therapist. At an earlier candidates night he recalled all the sad deaths the town has experienced as a community recently, including the passing of Myra Lopes, death of Lance Corporal Matthew Rodriguez and brutal murder of retired teacher Joyce Howland.
Mr. Riley said the town needs to plan for future capital needs instead of spending money just because it has it. As an example, he said the town could buy a $600,000 fire truck by taking out $200,000 a year.
Mr. Murphy said he strives for fiscal responsibility in government and tries to control costs. He said the town needs to find more sources of revenue and cannot be dependent on state aid.
Asked if he would nominate Selectman Robert Espindola as chairman if he is elected to the Board of Selectmen, Mr. Riley said he probably won’t be doing the nominating, but that his “preference would be Mr. Howarth.” Mr. Riley said he has served with now Selectman Geoffrey Howarth on the BPW and has developed a “comfort factor” with him.
Mr. Murphy said the vice chairman – in this case, Mr. Espindola – is usually nominated to the chairmanship the following year, but, “Anything is possible.”
Board of Health incumbent Jeannine Lopes said they’ve worked closely with the state Department of Environmental Protection in response to complaints from shipyard neighbors. The complaints range from particulates to noise to soil testing. She said the DEP is working on stringent plans with the shipyard.
Ms. Lopes said there was a delay while one board member offered to deal with it and never did, but now the Board of Health is pursuing action by the DEP. She said they’ve been pressing the DEP to come down and do a soil test.
Ms. Barteau said the DEP is short-staffed and does not always respond in a timely manner. “It is not enough to say, ‘The DEP’s handling it.'” Ms. Barteau said she’s read about ports and industrial shipyards and believes there is “a human impact” that needs to be addressed when industrial operations are conducted near residences.
On the 30-foot wall Fairhaven Shipyard wants to put up, Mr. Murphy and Mr. Riley both said they don’t support it.
Neither candidate for Board of Health mentioned the wind turbines in opening remarks March 18, although they did at the March 12 candidates forum at the Council on Aging. At the COA event, Louise Barteau said she was advised not to bring it up, but said she changed her mind after hearing Jeannine Lopes talk about it in her opening statement.
Ms. Barteau said of the turbines and the shipyard, “These two problems are not going away. They are impacting the community.” She said it is not a good strategy to ignore them.
Asked if she would move to take the turbines down if elected, Ms. Barteau said she has joked that if she wins the lottery, she would take them down. But she said, “I am not a big fan of litigation.” Later she said the health board had it right when it shut them down from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Now under the mitigation plan, they will be shut down from 12 to 4 a.m. under certain wind and weather conditions. Ms. Barteau said the DEP only tested the turbines from 12 to 4 a.m. and that they failed five of 10 times in some of the areas tested.
Ms. Lopes said at the March 12 meeting that the Board of Health receives all the residents’ complaints about the turbines and reads them. A Board of Health member worked on the mitigation plan.
Asked about the nocebo effect – or people’s imagining ill health effects based on suggestion – Ms. Lopes said it is possible and that sleep deprivation can be caused by a variety of factors.
“Sometimes the wind turbines actually help people sleep,” she said, “because of the white noise.”
Ms. Barteau said, “These turbines went up without a public hearing. How could that happen? You need to have a public hearing if you put a shed up in your back yard.”
Board of Health candidates received the most questions about the turbines, but Select Board candidates were also asked about them.
On March 12, Mr. Murphy said he was not a selectman when the site was chosen or when agreements were first signed. Looking back at those decisions, he said that industrial-sized wind turbines should be sited in industrial zones, away from residences.
Mr. Riley said at the March 12 event that the turbines were approved by Town Meeting. Referring to the controversy, he said people are reluctant to run for office now because of the turbines.
Mr. Murphy said, “As a selectman, I will fight to ensure that no trash fee is instituted.” He said he does favor the two-bin recycling system.
Mr. Riley said, “Pay-per-throw I don’t see as a viable option for the town right now.”
Brian Wotton, who is running unopposed for reelection to the Board of Public Works, said, “I am not for the pay-per-throw. I feel that it’s just a tax. I am for the two-bin system.”
Mr. Riley said the months spent interviewing candidates for town counsel were a waste of time. After interviewing three firms, selectmen renewed the contract of Thomas Crotty. Mr. Riley said, “The Board of Public Works doesn’t linger past two meetings to come to a decision.”
Mr. Murphy said it did take awhile but the process was helpful. “I think every few years it’s good to reevaluate all the services in town.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding