The five candidates for the two seats on the Select Board faced the cameras and the press at the RCTV Select Board Forum on March 20. A panel of three members of the local press, Catherine Robertson of the Reading Post, Al Silvia of the Daily Times and Chronicle, and Joanne Senders of the Reading Advocate posed questions to the candidates after each candidate issued an opening statement.
Carlo Bacci is a local business owner who stated that he “wants to bring business experience to the board.” He claimed that he is not for or against beer and wine licenses for convenience stores and gas stations in town but wants to listen to the community on the topic.
Bacci lauded his experience dealing with the government, hiring people and his building out of facilities as examples of his accomplishments. He believes that determining ways to raise money to fund capital projects is the most challenging issue facing the town. In regards to accusations of lack of cordiality on the current board, Bacci declared, “It’s OK to agree to disagree. We’re all trying to do the best for Reading.” He believes that the town website can be tough to navigate and that proactive meetings for neighbors facing development projects can aid in communication. Bacci believes that his ability to look “down the road’ is a skill that separates him from his opponents. He closed the forum pledging that he is opposed to the split tax rate and that he would not support another override for five years.
Barry Berman is the only candidate running for re-election to the board. “The job is not done.” He declared in his opening. “We need to create a new culture of collaboration,” he continued.
Berman believes that a community-wide discussion is needed regarding beer and wine licenses for convenience stores and gas stations and that the idea “is worth looking into.” He cited his proposal of the Permanent Building Committee and his creation of the Select Board survey that created the blueprint for the successful override as his specific accomplishments. Berman stated that upcoming capital projects and the possible development of Walker’s Brook Drive are the most challenging issues facing the town in the coming years. He believes that board members have an obligation to work with the other elected members of the board and that members of the board should model good behavior. Berman stated that the board is making progress on communications and that the new Select Board policies will address the issue. He thinks that the fact that he has actually done the job makes him stand out from his opponents. Berman concluded the forum stating that “experience matters” while asking for votes from all segments of the community.
Mark Dockser has served on Town Meeting for 20 years and on the Finance Committee for nine years. He highlighted three issues as to why he should be elected to the board. The first is that he could be a compass for the board. Second, he supports economic development, and third, he wants to make sure that a senior center has equal footing with other projects in town.
Dockser wants to hear from groups like the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse when thinking about beer and wine licenses for convenience stores and gas stations in town. He pointed to his work in a university mentoring program and the positive environment achieved in the Finance Committee as his key accomplishments. Dockser believes that figuring out how to achieve the town’s goals while maintaining economic stability is the most challenging issue facing the town. He also believes finding commonality and compromise are the best ways to maintain cordiality on the board. Dockser wants to invest in a new website to improve communications as well as urging the town to acknowledge difficult issues and deal with them. He believes that his years of engagement with town issues set him apart from the other candidates. Dockser closed the forum reminding voters of the three key points that he stated in his opening and asked the community for their votes.
Peter Kramer has lived in Reading for 66 years and has been a local contractor for more than 50 years. He believes that “everyone is getting disheartened about how the Select Board is run” and that the members are “unapproachable.” He is also upset about how he believes money is wasted in town. “All I have to offer is common sense,” he stated. Kramer is opposed to beer and wine sales for convenience stores and gas stations, citing difficulties such establishments have had in North Reading.
He cited his 50 years of construction and maintenance work as his signature accomplishment. He believes that “if you take care of the nickels and dimes, the big dollars items will take care of themselves.” Kramer believes the update of Killam School, the Senior Center, and a new cemetery garage are the biggest issues facing the town. He stated that one-on-one engagement with the community is still the best way to communicate and that he believes that it is “time for [the members of the board] to grow up and act like adults.” Kramer believes that his ability to be the conscience of the board and his experience in maintenance and construction separate him from the other candidates. He closed, promising to have the board set priorities for the community.
Anne Landry is a lawyer, and mother with ten years of public service on her resume. She believes in what she calls “deep listening” especially when hearing people who fear being taxed out of the community. Her incoming impression of the idea to allow beer and wine licenses for convenience stores and gas stations is favorable, though she wants to hear from all stakeholders on the issue.
Landry cited her drafting and negotiation of criminal justice legislation that passed the legislature and was signed by the governor as a key accomplishment that she has had. Landry believes that making the recent override last as long as possible is the most challenging issue facing the town. She hopes to determine ways to reduce costs while raising revenue to make this happen. She stated that she already has good relationships with the current members of the board and that this will help improve cordiality at board meetings. Landry believes that the town Facebook page is underutilized as a communication tool. She also advocates for an improved, easier to navigate website. She pointed to her devoted career of public service as what makes her stand out from the other candidates. Landry closed by reminding voters that she decided to run after realizing that the concerns of her neighbors fall under the purview of the Select Board.
The forum closed with forum moderator Alan Foulds thanking the candidates for their service, and reminding the community to vote on April 2 at the Hawkes Field House. Polls are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm.
RCTV Candidates Forum – Select Board
Posted by RCTV on Wednesday, March 20, 2019