Rindge’s two candidates for Selectmen were given an opportunity to field questions from their constituents on Monday, helping to set the stage for Tuesday’s election.
Incumbent Selectman Robert Hamilton and challenger Tim Halliday were both given a window of about five minutes to explain their qualifications for office at candidates night at the Rindge Recreation Center on Monday night.
After Hamilton and Halliday were given a window to speak, the two candidates fielded questions on a number of topics including their feelings on a ninth police officer in town, involvement in recent town meetings, and their opinions on the West Rindge Charette.
“I do not support a ninth officer at this time,” said Hamilton.
“The ninth officer position is not before us right now so I don’t consider it to be an issue,” said Halliday, a former Selectman. “I trust the judgment of our police chief.”
In their speeches, each candidate referred to a small but vocal group of people in town that were wielding a greater influence over the general populace.
Halliday voiced a bit of opposition to Save Our Town — a resident committee that originally formed about four years ago in opposition to a zoning amendment that would have created an overlay district at the intersections of Routes 119 and 202. The district would have allowed for additional development near the intersection and was voted down in 2014.
“We probably have more in common than not,” said Halliday, in an interview Wednesday morning. “I think the goals are similar but some of their tactics are not in keeping with a small town atmosphere.”
Hamilton also voiced frustration in an another small opposition group, saying there is a group of people in town working to increase the size of the town’s governance and its budget.
“The two groups will have to stop finger pointing,” said Hamilton, in an interview Wednesday. Hamilton said that in his opinion, dealing with issues personally is the best approach to solving problems.
The two candidates offered slightly different approaches to budgeting, with Hamilton wanting to work toward an affordable tax rate, while Halliday’s philosophy was to put value over price.
“In many cases, the lowest price is junk,” said Halliday. “Somewhere between the lowest and highest price is usually the best value.”
Halliday said that since the town’s budget represents a small portion of the town’s tax rate, additional efforts — including looking at the school district’s apportionment formula — should be examined.
“It’s good to be conservative, but the town budget isn’t the only place to look,” said Halliday. “There are bigger fish to fry.”
Hamilton said that he has worked hard to offer voters a choice this upcoming election, with a default budget that is lower than the proposed operating budget.
Hamilton recommenced that voters approve the proposed budget, as the default may be cheaper, but it would mean diminishing services in town.
“I would like Rindge to remain a rural town,” said Hamilton. “We must continue to work towards an affordable tax rate. Throwing money at problems has seldom been a long-term solution to short-term issues.”
In addition to the Select Board candidates, other candidates for office were also given a chance to speak as to why they should be elected and answer questions from the public.
Voting will take place on Tuesday at Rindge Memorial School from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.