TOWNSEND -- Fire Chief Donald Klein is hoping to continue to serve the town in a new role after his retirement in March.
Klein pulled nomination papers this week to run for the selectman seat left vacant by Robert Plamondon, who resigned from the board in November before moving out of state.
After an unsuccessful bid for a selectman seat 12 years ago, Klein served for four years on the town's Finance Committee. He has spent 40 years with the Fire Department, the last seven of which he served as chief.
Klein said he had thought about running for town office at some point, and with Plamondon resigning, he felt the time was right.
"I think I still have a lot to give to the community, and I'd like to see if I can help the town through these trying times we've been having," Klein said.
Those trying times stem mostly from financial troubles, which Klein said have kept the town from making improvements over the last several years.
"The state's not giving us the financial support that it used to, and the town itself has to kind of reinvent itself and look for other opportunities to either save money or bring in new revenue sources. The town needs someone who's willing to look outside the box and try to see what we can do," Klein said.
If elected, improving the town infrastructure would be Klein's top priority. In addition to the construction of a new fire station headquarters, which he has pushed for as chief, he said the town's deteriorating roads need to be addressed.
"The infrastructure in town really needs to be looked at.
To accomplish this, he recommended creating a master plan for how the town can address its needs.
"We need to sit down as a committee and create a master plan that says what needs to be done, what funding we have available and how we can fund these projects. Then we can start moving down the line to correct and improve our infrastructure," Klein said.
He suggested consulting with experts and officials in other towns that have faced similar problems as a way to help selectmen get past the roadblock of how to fund costly repairs.
"We're not the only ones in this situation. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can take a portion of what other towns are doing and adapt it to your needs," he said.
While the fire station project is important to him, he said it was not a factor in his decision to join the selectman race.
"I'm excited that the board decided to move forward with it," he said of the selectmen's decision Tuesday to place the project on the warrant for May's Town Meeting.
"I think it gives an opportunity for the community to see the project and our needs. If the community decides no, then we'll bring it back and try to address those concerns. But folks need to have an opportunity to see it and have their voices heard," Klein said.
His management background, combined with his lifelong commitment to Townsend, have prepared him well for the job, he said.
"I know the town, and I know the community. I've lived here all my life. And I think with the management experience that I bring from my career in the high-tech industry, that's something that the board really needs to help address our needs as the community goes forward," Klein said.
As of last Thursday, three other Townsend residents had pulled papers for the selectman seat -- Ron Dionne, Laura Shifrin and Robert Tumber.
The election is April 28.