By Emily Royalty
TOWNSEND--The race for the seat on the Board of Selectmen is starting to heat up. Thus far, four residents have pulled nomination papers to fill the open position this April. Nick Thalheimer, who currently occupies the seat, recently said he would not be running for reelection following news of his wife's pregnancy.
Colin McNabb, 33, was the first to return nomination papers for the position to the town clerk.
McNabb is visible from a variety of places throughout town. McNabb's family owns McNabb's Pharmacy, where McNabb works as the operations manager. He is also the immediate past president of the Townsend Business Association, is entering his fourth year on the Capital Planning Committee and recently joined the Finance Committee. McNabb is also serves on the parish council at St. John's Parish and is a member of the Knights of Columbus.
"I see a good percentage of our town population very frequently. Because of that, I feel I would be very approachable. If any residents are having issues, I would be more than happy to help," he said.
McNabb said his experience with municipal government would transition well to a position on the Board of Selectmen. He was a member of capital planning when the capital planning bylaw was put into place.
"Having that sort of vetting process is a step in the right direction. It really helps when something goes to the Board of Selectmen to have everything thoroughly examined so they're not having to make an uninformed decision," he said.
If elected, McNabb said he is planning on enacting some sort of office hours, consistent on a week by week basis, to make it easier for people to speak with him if necessary.
McNabb said he would plan on using his experience with small business as a model for his approach to the town.
"I believe in being fiscally responsible and fiscally conservative. I want the town to not waste the taxpayers' money. I want the town to run as streamline as possible. It's a tough economic situation. I think that we're recovering slowly but we have to be careful. The next few years is going to impact future," he said.
McNabb, who has lived in town nearly his entire life, said that he wants to prioritize community aspects of the town, such as bringing people together for activities and utilizing the town common.
"I really love this town. I'm very passionate about Townsend and feel that running for selectman would be a way to give back to community," said McNabb.
Also running for the position is McNabb's Finance Committee co-member, Carolyn Smart, 46, who is finishing up getting signatures on her papers.
Smart has been a full-time employee of the town since 2001, serving as the executive secretary for four different town administrators as well as serving as the interim town administrator twice. She now works for the Water Department. She has also served on the Planning Board, Personnel Board and Capital Planning Committee, and has served under 12 different selectmen.
"I think I would bring an understanding of everything from personnel issues to HR to finances. I think I have a lot to bring to the table. The town has invested a lot of money in training me," said Smart.
Smart said one of her biggest priorities would be bringing people together and finding innovative ways to create new revenue and to cut spending.
Another priority is building communication between the town departments. Four or five years ago, she said, committees and boards would attend each other's meetings to stay in tune with what the other was doing. It's this coming together of the municipal bodies that Smart said she would like to bring back.
"There was just a better flow of communication. One of the biggest issues I've found being on boards and committees is finding information we need. It seems like everyone is kind of separate. No one knows what the other one is doing and that's not how it's always been," she said.
Overall, though, said Smart, the town has great strengths, such as the school system and conservation, and overall a strong base that she hopes to continue to foster.
"It's a great community with great people in the community. It's just a matter of supporting that. We've got a good charter, good bylaws and a good foundation," she said.
Smart moved to town in 1993 from Pepperell, but her father grew up in Townsend. She said her main reason for running for selectman is to give back to the town.
"Everyone has something unique to give back to their communities. This just happens to be mine. There's just always something new to learn," said Smart. "I really do enjoy people and serving them."
Dave Funaiole, 56, a life-long town resident, is also finishing up collecting nomination signatures.
If voted in as selectmen, Funaiole would be returning to a seat he occupied for one year in 2008, following the resignation of two selectmen prior to the term expiring. When the term expired in 2008, Funaiole chose not to rerun at the time because he was just beginning a new job at Fairpoint Communications in Manchester, N.H. Over the past year and a half, though, he said, his schedule has smoothed out considerably and he wants to take the opportunity to return to municipal government.
"I miss the interaction between the selectmen and the boards, and representing people-- taking care of the town, basically," he said.
Funaiole has also served on the Townsend Democratic Committee for several years. In the past, he has served on the Town Properties Committee, the Zoning Board and was a trust fund commissioner.
Because of his service on multiple boards and committees, Funaiole said he would bring the factor of familiarity.
"I've gotten to know everybody. I would be able to bring to the able a known factor. People know me and have worked with me before, so there's and amount of trust and knowledge about who I am and how I am," he said.
One major priority Funaiole said he would have if elected would be to find new revenue streams and encouraging small businesses to move into town. Funaiole said he foresees some major necessary budgetary planning in the town's future, considering some of the projects on the horizon, such as the high school building project and the new fire/EMS headquarters. In such circumstances, said Funaiole, his approach would be listening to the voices of the residents.
"We would need to keep in mind that we work for the people. Sometimes what we want as an individual elected official doesn't matter as much as what the people want," he said.
Additionally, Funaiole said he would want to work with other boards and committees without stepping on their toes.
"Sometimes being a good leader means not interfering when things are going well, just help them along. You don't get in the way and impede progress," he said.
Former selectman Dave Chenelle also pulled papers to run for the position, but said he is not currently planning on returning them to the town clerk's office.
"I'm just feeling at this point that I'm not sure I want to put my hat into the fray of town politics again," he said.