TOWNSEND — Eight candidates appearing on the April 24 ballot attended candidate’s night at Memorial Hall, and all had the opportunity to address the audience.
Only two positions are contested: One is a seat on the Board of Selectmen and the other to sit on the Cemetery and Parks Commission. Selectman Chairman Daniel Murphy is being challenged by Townsend businesswoman Maureen Denig, and current Cemetery and Parks Commissioner John Barrett faces opposition from Calvin Robbins.
The other candidates in attendance were Laura Shifrin, unopposed for a seat on both the Board of Assessors and the Townsend Housing Authority; Gene Rauhala, who will return as town moderator; Nicholas Thalheimer will be given another term on the Planning Board; and James Pineo will retain his veteran’s seat on the Trustees of Soldier’s Memorials.
During their introductions, all candidates thanked Nashoba Publishing, the Townsend Business Association (TBA), and Cable Access Channel 9, the co-sponsors of the event.
Selectman Murphy said in his three-minute opening address that he was put on the board to make decisions, and that is what he has done.
”I take my job as selectman very seriously,” Murphy said. “I look beyond the horizons. I will always serve the residents of town, not special interest groups.”
Denig told the audience she made a promise to herself years ago to serve the town in which she lives.
”I have made a commitment to myself to always participate,” Denig said. “I served on the Finance Committee, been president of Townsend-Ashby Youth Soccer, and am currently president of the TBA. I feel decisions in town have stalled, and I would work to serve all of your needs,” she said.
Audience member Bruce Beauchesne asked Denig what her areas of concern would be if she were elected selectman.
”There are issues facing us, such as 40B housing, land issues and business development,” Denig said, “and all of these issue could seriously affect every one of us.”
Gregory Galeota, an on-call firefighter, asked Murphy why the current board has not begun the process of consolidating the Fire and Ambulance Departments into one, which had been promised.
”The selectmen voted to merge both departments, and we also said it would not be a quick fix,” Murphy said. “Before any public hearings can be held, we have to get the analysis on what the costs will be, and also what the savings will be.”
”The new chief has just completed his probationary period,” Murphy continued, “so he’s been working on other things. This can be ready to go before the fall town meeting, but the report from him has to come in first.”
Both Murphy and Denig were asked about special interest groups, to which both replied they are not involved with any special interest groups in town.
Shifrin asked both selectman candidates about their priorities.
”My middle name is fiscal conservative,” Denig said, “but I would hate not to see the library project move forward after we have already spent so much money on it.”
Murphy said the senior center is high on his priority list, but cautioned the town does not have an endless supply of money.
”We try to keep taxes down so the seniors can retire here,” Murphy added.
At the conclusion of the event, each candidate urged all residents to get out and vote on April 24.