TOWNSEND -- Good communication is key in town government, according to candidates for one seat on the Board of Selectmen.
With a good flow of communication, differences between boards and committees can be solved quickly, said Colin McNabb.
Candidate Carolyn Smart wanted to see regular meetings between representatives of the different boards, as in the past.
Boston loves it when local boards are busy fighting and squabbling amongst each other, candidate Dave Funaiole said, it makes it easier for them.
Communication between the town officials and residents also needs work because residents do not know what is happening in the town, the three candidates agreed. They answered questions during the Candidates Night sponsored by Nashoba Publishing Company on April 8.
"Sometimes the personal touch is what's needed," Smart said. A forum on town government the previous week did not draw anyone but town officials.
The "old fashioned methods of knocking on doors and putting signs out" were favored by Funaiole. He also communicates through the internet and a campaign Facebook page.
"A great thing in town recently is the new website," McNabb said. People can see the meeting agendas and spread the word.
Communication between board members was also questioned. When asked by Stephen Spofford how each candidate would get along with the other members of the board, all said they would have no problem.
"I'm a pretty good person to get along with. I try to build consensus," McNabb said.
"I'll point to my past on the board with Bob Plamondon. A few times we didn't see eye to eye. It didn't get heated," Funaiole said. He served on the Board of Selectmen for one year, on the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Trust Fund Committee and the Property Committee.
"I don't foresee any problems. We do need to have compromise. Good discussion and good debate is how we get good answers," Smart said. She was the assistant to the town administrator for 11 years and now works part time at the Water Department. She is on the Finance and Capital Planning Committees.
When questioned about the need to recuse herself for a conflict of interest should she be called on to make decisions or discussions about the Water Department, Smart said she recused herself while serving on other committees when personnel discussions involving her position were held.
As a selectman and member of the ZBA, Funaiole recused himself three times. "If there's anything that you're going to directly benefit in, you shouldn't be in the discussion," he said.
When questioned by Jim LeCuyer, a board member of the Board of Health, about the ability for boards to make personnel decisions, Funaiole said the selectmen were the court of last appeal after an employee went through a manager and town administrator.
Smart and McNabb both saw the need for improvement in personnel management. "The Board of Selectmen is a political office. I feel more comfortable having a board or a professional," Smart said. Town policies and bylaws determine what a board can do.
"I also agree we need a personnel board to prevent the need to go to the court of last appeal," McNabb said.
All three candidates agreed that raising taxes for operating expenses through a Proposition 2 1/2 override was not desirable. They all also agreed that major repairs to the existing high school will need to be done, or a new building constructed. A debt exclusion, a rise to the tax levy that expires when the project is paid for, would be needed.
"It's going to sound like a love fest again," Funaiole said, the feasibility study should give the town a good idea of which direction to follow with the project.
The one major area of disagreement among the three was whether to support the proposed Squannacook River Rail Trail. McNabb said many people have asked about it. Following the theme of the whole night, he would be inclined to bring "the two sides together in some sort of consensus."
Smart said she would have voted in favor of signing the lease from the owners of the corridor, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and allowing the trail to proceed if there was no cost to the town.
"My vote would have been no," Funaiole said. The trail would disrupt businesses in the harbor and leave the town open to potential liabilities for hazardous waste and conservation concerns.
Ray Boyes, incumbent candidate for the Cemetery and Parks Commission, Paul Buxton, incumbent candidate for the Trustees of Soldier's Memorials, and Dave Schuttler, candidate for the Recreation Commission, were also at the meeting. John Barrett moderated. The town election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30.