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Candidates seek ‘change’ in Peru

PERU – A slate of candidates for town office are running on a “change” ticket in the wake of accusations of government secrecy and three Open Meeting Law violations against the Select Board.

All the candidates attended a recent meet the candidates forum at the pavilion behind the fire station. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the community center.

Bonnie DiTomasso and Bruce Cullett are vying for an open three-year seat on the Select Board.

“There has to be open communication in Peru,” DiTomasso said. “It’s all about accessibility to Town Hall. I would encourage everybody to participate.”

DiTomasso, who’s works in finance and property management in her career, said she’ll “ensure fiscal responsibility” and work with other towns to compare budgets.

Cullett, who manages environmental services company GCS Industries and serves as a part-time police officer in the town, also advocated open government and fiscal responsibility.

“I’m running to explore opportunities to lower the tax burden for each resident,” Cullett said.

The current tax rate of $17.26 per $1,000 of assessed property value is too high, especially for a town of fewer than 1,000 residents, Cullett said. He’d like to lower the high insurance costs paid for town employees and revisit the assessments of commercial properties in the town.

Cullett also said the town should make its zoning laws more friendly for people who operate small businesses out of their homes.

The candidates for a second, year-long seat on the Select Board include Kevin Cahill and town Highway Superintendent Dale Weeks, who is also running for a year-long term on the Planning Board and a five-year term on the Finance Committee.

In his career, Cahill worked in information technology for local and national customers and he manages the municipal lighting plant in Peru.

The town needs a website, Cahill said, and he expressed a willingness to build it for free.

He also wants to find additional income for the town, through grants and other means, explore good uses for town land and collaborate with nearby towns who are toying with the idea of a municipal solar array owned by residents.

“This is something that Peru should be involved in from the get-go,” Cahill said.

Weeks, who’s lived in Peru for 55 years, said he’s tired of the fighting in town of late.

“I want to see the town come back together and the leadership reopen meetings for public comment,” Weeks said. “I’ll try to help get things running smooth again.”

Weeks said he’s interested in tightening up the town’s subdivision bylaws and applying a “common sense” approach to the issues of the day.

The winners will join Selectman Verne Leach on the board. Selectmen Douglas Haskins and Jay Jewell are not seeking re-election.

Other candidates on the ballot who attended the candidates forum included Candice Cahalan, running for town clerk; Scott Seely, who’ll face-off against Weeks for the five-year Planning Board position; John DiTomasso and Caryn Wendling, candidates for a five-year slot on the Finance Committee; Kimberly Wetherell, who’s running against Weeks for a year-long seat on the Finance Committee and a year-long constable position; Charles Goyette, candidate for tree warden; Joseph Kaminski and Richard Haupt, who are competing for the town moderator post, and Coralie Pelky, who’s running for a two-year constable position.