GROTON — As the date for town election draws near, only two candidates have taken out nomination papers for the Board of Selectmen, and they are certainly no strangers to Groton.
Eager to continue working on set goals and objectives, Anna Eliot and Peter Cunningham have both announced that they will run for re-election in the spring.
A member of the board since 1996, Cunningham will run for his sixth term this May.
He said: “I have a track record that’s out there and I think people are certainly familiar with my approach to some of the difficult and complicated issues that we face as a town. I’ve always tried to proceed in a way that communicates clearly about what’s going on and what our position is.”
Unlike Cunningham, Eliot has only been a board member for a single term. However, prior to serving as a selectman, she was a member of the Planning Board for 22 years, in which time she engaged in a considerable amount of work with regard to implementing new building and zoning bylaws.
“I very much enjoy being part of this town and contributing to the town in the way that I have over the years,” said Eliot, a Groton native. “I feel like there are a lot of exciting opportunities happening in town now and I want to be a part of that process.”
As vice chair of the select board and chair of the Economic Development Committee, Eliot is especially hopeful to transform Groton into a more “business-friendly” community. She emphasized two projects in particular, including the expansion of the town’s sewer district in preparation of the new college coming into town, as well as the development of 134 Main St.
She said: “I want to make Groton more business-friendly so that future businesses can arrive and thrive in the town in a way that meets the citizen’s needs, but I also want it to be attractive and fit within our image of ourself.”
Eliot is also a member of the Prescott Re-use Committee.
Without doubt, both candidates up for re-election encourage development within the town, but Cunningham emphasized more the developments of municipal services such as the Town Charter and more specifically the construction of a new fire/ambulance facility.
“I think we do a good job in the provision of services that we have, but the biggest thing right now is a facility issue, specifically our fire station,” said Cunningham. “That station on Station Avenue was built in 1940 to accommodate the Fire Department and the fire equipment at that time. Modern equipment is a lot different and it is simply not adequate to accommodate modern equipment.”
Cunningham currently serves as a liaison to several boards and committees; he is a member of the Squannacook River Trail Committee, the Town Government Committee and he is involved in housing partnership.
In terms of challenges set before the town, the budget was an immediate answer for both. For Cunningham it was about management and for Eliot it was about sustainability.
“Keeping a sustainable budget is always a challenge for any town administration,” reminded Eliot, “but working with the school system to help retain the budget, or maintain a budget, or figure out ways to help each other for making the future of Groton more sustainable for both its educational needs as well as its municipal needs.”
Cunningham argued, “These are difficult times, and while there might be some sense recovering the economy, it still hasn’t really trickled down over some people. Increasing demands of municipal services are becoming more expensive and a greater burden that has been put onto the property face. To try and balance that, it’s important to provide services in a way that’s efficient.”
Cunningham has lived in Groton since 1979. He and his wife, Jean, have two daughters, Laura, who lives in Cambridge, and Jenny, who is currently residing in California.
Recently retired, Cunningham worked in the area of child welfare for the State Department of Children and Families for more than 37 years. He received a bachelor’s degree from Nasson College in Maine and then his master’s in science and counseling from Fitchburg State College.
He said: “I appreciate people’s support at election. This is a great town and I look forward to working more with it.”
Similar to her fellow board member, Eliot has a strong family background and also has experience working with children and families. She’s a mother of two, Heidi and Daniel, but she could not dare leave out her son-in-law, Jeremy.
As an attorney, she practices primarily in the juvenile court representing children or families in cases of state custody or delinquency. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts and then her doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Law.
“I enjoy what I do and I try to bring a positive attitude to the situations in town.” said Eliot. “I know the town well, I grew up in this town. And so, I think I have a fairly good feeling of how the town has grown in the past to help direct its future.”