Tewksbury Candidates Gather For First Forum Of Campaign Season
Candidate Forum Sponsored by Tewksbury Republican Town Committee
With just four weeks remaining before Election Day, the 2013 Tewksbury campaign season shifted into high gear on Saturday with a candidate forum at Town Hall.
The event was sponsored by Tewksbury Republican Town Committee.
Of the 19 candidates on the April 6 ballot, nine participated in Saturday's forum, including five of the six candidates running for the Board of Selectmen and two of the three running for Tewksbury School Committee.
The event, which attracted around 75 voters, also featured two of the three candidates running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.
For some of the local candidates, the forum served as a chance to introduce themselves to voters and highlight some of the issues that matter most to them.
The incumbents who participated, such as Selectman Todd Johnson and Shawsheen Tech School Committee member Patricia Meuse, defended not only their own records but those of the board they serve on.
Here are some of the highlights from the forum:
"I'm not up here to tell you I'm going to lower youre property taxes. I'm just up here to tell you I'm going to fight for you. I've got the time, I've got the commitment, I've got the integrity. I'm going to work hard." Ken Miano, candidate for Board of Selectmen.
"We (began) a shared pain approach, across the board. We tried to be equitable in our budgeting, despite all the cuts we've had to endure over the past few years. We've fostered transparency. We've ended the use of what I call the 'cocaine of municipal finance’ -- that is using one-time revenue to pay for our operating budget." Selectmen Todd Johnson, running for a third term.
"I did some research around out commercial/industrial base. Tewksbury has about ... $720 million in our commercial and industrial tax base. As I looked at other towns -- Andover, Wilmington, Billerica and Lowell -- are at or over a billion dollars in appraised commercial/industrial tax base. When you put that with our tax rate, if we just keep up with those other towns, that's an extra $5 million - plus in our budget and I know we could certainly use that money today." Jim Wentworth, candidate for Board of Selectman.
"The fact is, last year, the only reason South (Fire) Station was open was because of open Town Meeting. Open Town Meeting had 65 people, I think that was the number, who voted to transfer those funds over ... I think we need to make sure the board sets this as a priority." Rick Menard, candidate for Board of Selectmen.
"Many people are saying to me that they're having a hard time making the hard choices. Should I pay my water bill or should I water my ... yard. These are the ... answers that you've got to come up with. And it shouldn't be that way. We've got people in town who live on fixed income and when they get a bill that's $20, $30 (more) a month for their water bill, that's a significant amount of money coming out of the money they have to live on." Robert Marcin, candidate for Board of Selectmen.
"Everyone is committed to the success of each and every student that enters the school. Shawsheen Tech has an average daily attendance of over 97 percent. The dropout rate is .2 percent. And our graduation rate for on-time graduation, which is (within) four years is 98 percent and 96 percent for our special needs students." Shawsheen Tech School Committeewoman Patricia Meuse, running for a seventh term.
"My fundamental guiding principle -- we need to put the children first in every decision...(i understand) in challenging economic times difficult decisions will have to be made. In many cases, the right answer is not always obvious. It takes careful consideration of all the data ... to make the right decision." Lisa Puccia, candidate for School Committee.
"I believe that the education my children have received in the Tewksbury Public Schools is -- almost great. I believe it can be better. If I didn't think it would be good enough for them, they'd be in private schools. I think we have opportunities to improve the education that is given to our children. I think it has to start soon." Raymond Lisiecki, candidate for School Committee.