02/11/2010

By Kara Herlihy

Candidates for public office in Warren participated in a forum Tuesday evening, during the February 9 select board meeting. Moderated by Bob Messner, candidates for the offices of select board, lister, library board of trustees and second constable fielded questions from the public regarding ongoing issues facing Warren residents.

This year, former Warren Select Board chair Burt Bauchner resigned in the second year of his three-year term. Charles Snow and Anson Montgomery are both running for the remaining one year of Bauchner's term.

Snow told attendees that he is seeking election to the select board in order to help "make some smarter decisions" in a town that he has lived in his entire life. In addition to his 30 years on the fire department, Snow also currently serves as president of the Cemetery Commission.

FINANCIAL SENSE

Snow is running for the seat against Anson Montgomery, a full-time Warren resident since 2002, but a longtime Valley resident, he said. Montgomery said he would bring his strong financial sense to the select board if elected.

Andrew Cunningham, who succeeded Bauchner as select board chair, is running for re-election on a three-year term. Cunningham said his two years on the select board have been a lot of work but good for the most part; he said that he is running for a three-year seat and expects to "be here for awhile."

Select board member Kenneth Frey Jr. is running for a two-year term; Frey has served as an interim member filling a seat left vacant by Erin Russell-Story last fall.  Frey said he is running on the belief that it is important to serve and called himself "the geeky numbers guy" who brings his background in financial analysis to town budgeting and money management.

PATH DISPUTE

Candidates were asked for their opinion regarding the ongoing Sue Carter path dispute. Cunningham said that the town continues to be in communication with Carter and hopes to continue "finding common ground" in order to gain access to the path.

Snow told town officials that they were "tromping on a Vermonter" and that there was no reason to trespass across private property.

"We buy school busses for this town and I heard that 80 percent of [Warren School] kids are driven to school; why do we need school busses or a path or sidewalks?" Snow said.

Montgomery said he could only speak to what he has heard and read in the newspaper, since he has yet to serve on the select board. He said he thinks the town should respect property rights and individual rights and not have to "go into a big fight in <MI>The Valley Reporter<D>."

FIGHTING BACK

Snow continued, "People weren't disrespecting the property until lately and she's fighting back. The town doesn't own the property and should stay off, get on the school busses; I hope she wins."

Frey said that people should be able to do what they want on their own land.

The discussion then turned to the candidates' stance on the paving of the parking lot at the East Warren Community Market that will serve as an official park and ride as the result of a state-awarded grant.

Snow said that town should take the money and pave the parking lot because "if we don't take that money they're going to give it away to another town; why not take it and improve Warren?"

PARK AND RIDE

Frey said, "There are instances where you do need to pave, and park and ride is one of those areas."

Cunningham said he was on record as having voted in favor of the state grant that will go towards parking lot paving and lighting. He referenced safety as one of the reasons he voted in favor of the issue that divided the select board.

Cunningham said that the lighting that has become controversial among abutting landowners who are concerned with brightness is necessary for the safety of those people returning to their cars late at night -- especially women, he said.

OLD PAVEMENT IS BAD

Montgomery said he thought that pavement detracts from the charm of a place and was concerned that the pavement won't be maintained properly.

"Old pavement is bad," he continued, and said that if it's not wanted or needed, the grant money shouldn't be wasted.

Cunningham said the grant "is free money to make it work like it should. I don't know about the mud but there are such big potholes in there I find it unpleasant to drive in and out of."

CRIME ISSUES

When asked for their input on the ongoing law enforcement and crime issues affecting Warren and The Valley, Montgomery said that he agreed that the town needs a police presence, though he wasn't sure how much, given the recent crime spree.

"We may need some presence to act as a deterrent," he added.

Cunningham said that the town has contracted for 24 hours per week of sheriff coverage, and the duties of the constables are becoming more difficult given recent changes in state law that restrict the constables' abilities.

Candidate for second constable and fire department member Jeff Campbell was present at the public forum to discuss the need for increased law enforcement in Warren. Campbell said he wanted to "bring Warren back to the residents" and said if elected he would work to reduce the recent crime.

LOVE OF LIBRARIES

Liz First Raddock is seeking a two-year seat on the Library Board of Trustees; she commended the town's efforts throughout the successful library renovation project and said she would bring a love of libraries and reading, as well as creativity and enthusiasm to the board if elected.

Patti Kaufman is also seeking a three-year term as library trustee. Kaufman said she was "totally impressed with the library and is very eager to come on board." Kaufman's mother-in-law served as the town librarian for years, she said, and said that libraries are a great resource for residents from all generations.

CHALLENGING CURRENT LISTER

Sandra Brodeur is running for a three-year term as a lister, challenging current lister Priscilla Robinson who is running for re-election. Brodeur served as a town lister from 1978 until 1982 and has served as the town's delinquent tax collector. Brodeur said she has taken all of the required coursework and now that she is no longer working for the tax department has the ability and desire to serve as lister.

Robinson said she has been a lister for over 20 years and has also taken all the required and otherwise coursework associated with the position. Robinson said she also developed the town's GIS mapping and enjoys working for the town.

OTHER RACES

Other candidates include Margaret Forbes, who is running for a five-year term on the Cemetery Commission, and Warren Town Clerk Reta Goss, who is running for re-election to a one-year term. Goss is also running for re-election to a one-year term as delinquent tax collector.

Elaine Fuller is running for re-election to a one-year term as town treasurer as well as re-election to a one-year term as trustee of public money. Fuller is also running for re-election to the Warren School Board on a one-year term.

Mac Rood is running for re-election to a one-year term as school moderator and Adam Greshin is seeking re-election to the Warren School Board for a two-year term. April Smith is running for a three-year term on the school board as well. Town Moderator Robert Messner is running for re-election for a one-year term.

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