By Kara Herlihy
Tuesday evening was "Meet the Candidates" night in Warren. Three candidates, one running un-opposed, gathered along with various members of the Select Board and local residents to share their positions on issues affecting town governance in the town of Warren at a public forum on February 5.
All three candidates took to their respective hot seats, answering questions from members of the public, town officials and residents on issues ranging from their stance on Act 60/68, road paving and the flight of The Valley's young people.
When asked why they were seeking positions on the select board, Bob Meany said that "it was the right time" for him to "contribute to the civic need," while Cunningham said that he "comes with no agenda, but the timing is right."
Bauchner said, "When you live in a place, you can't just take things out. You have to put things in."
Town administrator Cindi Jones asked the candidates for their position on the Act 60/68 property tax system, and Alex Cunningham said that he was "not a supporter of Act 60/68" and, "We need to find a better funding mechanism."
Select board member Burt Bauchner brought up the $125,000 purchase of the Kingsbury Farm, made earlier in the year for the purpose of conservation. Bauchner also questioned the candidates on how they would handle the allotment of funds to the now nine-member conservation commission.
Meany said he thought the funds should be reviewed and evaluated each year as opposed to "tucking it into the budget." Cunningham said the conservation commission money should remain a part of the budget.
NATURE OF DIRT ROADS
Warren Fire Department member Gene Farmham asked the candidates for their stance on road paving, making a case for the difficult nature of dirt roads for emergency vehicle access and general maintenance.
Burt Bauchner said that he was the single nay vote on the decision to pave a portion of Lincoln Gap Road, not because of the "nature of the road" but because he is not a fan of "squeaky wheel government" and that there are several other roads in Warren that are just as problematic.
Board member Barry Simpson said that one of the positive aspects of the current board is its diversity both in age and in gender. He asked each candidate to address the issues surrounding the decreasing youth population in The Valley.
IN A DEEP HOLE
Cunningham, a local business owner, said that attracting young people is about "giving them something to do" and that The Valley doesn't have affordable housing and when he receives his tax bill he feels like he's "in a deep hole looking up."
When asked about the possibility of business parks, Cunningham said that there are unused business spaces like Northern Power that are already vacant.
Select board chair Mac Rood asked what skills the candidates would bring to the select board. Meany said he has experience dealing with personnel issues and would lean upon the recommendations of the current board.
Cunningham said he has 20 years of experience in building trades, dealing with personnel, balance sheets, and is less familiar with big budgets but would work with the "steep learning curve" of the select board.
The forum will be televised on MRVTV channel 44/60.