The Wrentham Board of Selectmen race now has three people vying for two seats. Last month The Wrentham Times interviewed candidates Charles Kennedy and incumbent Steve Langley. George Smith has now tossed his hat into the ring making it a three way race and he shares his views in a similar question and answer format. Bob Leclair, whose term was set to expire this year, resigned in last week and is not seeking reelection.
What’s your background in serving on the Board of Selectmen?
I would be a good fit based on my past experience, life experience and my various experiences with the town itself. I’ve been on the Planning Board for 15 years. I’ve served on the Building Committee and Conservation Committee. I’m a member of the MACP, SWAP, and Open Space Committee. I have a background in mechanical engineering from Wentworth. I’m familiar with land development, the sub division control law, 40B, excavation and road maintenance. I had a tree company and have an architectural background. I’m also a licensed equipment operator. I think those things would make me a pretty good fit for the Board of Selectmen. Selectmen need to know not just one discipline but need to know about different disciplines.
What are the pressing issues facing Wrentham?
Obviously it’s the budgeting process. It’s making sure that all the service levels are kept within the town. I do believe the Board of Selectmen is charged with the responsibility of deciding what the level of service should be in the community by consulting with the heads of the various departments. But that doesn’t mean they have to go with it. They can make their own judgments and they should make their own judgments to serve the best needs of the community.
I think we have to look at a roads program. The roads are in difficult shape. The maintenance on the various buildings in town needs to be addressed. We have to make sure that the central government, the Town Hall, has enough resources to administer their jobs. I think we pick away at budgets, but what we need to do is think out of the box and use the things in our community to get what we need.
There are a lot of things we can do to acquire revenues for the town. I went out to talk to different people to come up with various recommendations such as a transfer station in regards to our rubbish, or earth removal from different subdivisions. We could probably make some money there. We could eliminate the water cooler in Wrentham. That makes a statement when we have water coolers and twenty feet away we have bubblers. Printing on both sides of paper might be a way to go. We should look at everything.
Is Wrentham providing services at a level you think is acceptable?
I think the Police Department, by virtue of statements made by the Chief that we have a standard number of officers based on the number of people in town, we have not met that standard. I’m an advocate for education, health care and jobs. And we have to do whatever is necessary to provide for the schools. But we also have to make sure that the people we’re hiring feel comfortable that they don’t have to provide inflated budgets in order to get what they want. I’m not saying that’s bad. It’s a strategy. I don’t think the Department of Public Works is funded as it should be. We’re short handed in regards to mechanics and maintenance.
Economic development is often cited as needed in Town. What can the Town of Wrentham do to be attractive for commercial development? How does the Town protect itself from unwanted commercial development?
We have a master plan that we formulated many years ago. That should be brought up to date. We shouldn’t make carte blanche changes to zoning for the sake of changing zoning. Perhaps we need contract zoning. If a person wants to provide a certain use for a given property, if he/she doesn’t do it in a certain time, the zoning would revert back to the original zoning.
We have to start thinking out of the box and come up with real ideas. We have to look at wind generators and geo thermics and solar panels. We have to have a game plan and get people willing to work together and have a community that is devoted to its own survival. The people in this town are great, but they want to know the plan.
How do we handle the budget moving forward?
There are a lot of things I’d like to see happen in this town. We need to do an inventory of the town and know exactly what we have. You have to figure out what you actually have to have and then you have to come up with a methodology for funding that. That’s where you start.
Describe the political climate in Wrentham and how it impacts the town? Is it better or worse these days, and what do you attribute to the change, if there is one?
The people really just want a game plan and want to know where the town is going. If we’re going to fund stuff, the people want to know if we need that, and how we’ll fund it. People don’t want to play games.