Five-way race for open seat

Incumbent Mike Darnell is not running

TEMPLE — It’s a five-way race for the Select Board seat that will be left vacant by outgoing incumbent Mike Darnell.

Ken Caisse, Kenneth Patria, Luke Peterson, Kenneth J. Sullivan and George Willard have all thrown their names into the mix to take on Darnell’s position. Darnell is not running for re-election.

The issue of the town financing large purchases was the subject of several of the candidates platforms this year.

Willard, who has experience on the Planning Board, Capital Improvement Committee and Budget Committee said that he had an eye to the budget, noting that he would like to see more purchases with funds already available to the town.

Peterson, who also has Budget Committee experience, agreed with Willard on that point, noting he disagreed with the town’s past practices of financing equipment. “I disagree with the tend to finance items. We’re paying for those items twice. We get the equipment now, but we also get the interest down the road. I would like to see the town, take deep breath, and approach paying cash upfront.” Taxes are a main issue, he said. “Taxes do affect my ability to stay and live in town of Temple. It’s nice to have a town that looks good and owns real estate, but Temple is not in the real state business or the beautification business.”

Caisse, who is also on the Temple Volunteer Fire Department, also weighed in on the issue, noting that the town hasn’t planned for the future, and that those finance charges add up, and give no true value other than increasing the tax burden. Like Peterson, he noted that the taxes made it hard to maintain property in Temple.

“I’m a guy that has to watch my checkbook every week,” said Caisse. “Some of our selectmen are not privy to that, and don’t have that issue. It hurts when they spend my tax money in foolish ways.”

Sullivan said he’d like to see the town be a sustainable living place for young families — including making sure there is housing that is affordable for them to own and taxes they can pay. Over the past three years, the average cost of a home in Temple is $214,000, which isn’t attainable for most young families. Also, he noted, making zoning changes such as allowing more flexible home-based business rules would help to attract that demographic.

This year’s continuing debate on whether to maintain a Town Meeting format or switch to ballot voting for all issues was one the candidates weighed in on.

Willard noted that he didn’t overtly oppose ballot voting, but was dubious that the format would work, considering low deliberative session turnouts in other towns. Peterson agreed with Willard, and said he was firmly in favor of maintaining Town Meeting. Sullivan said that in the past, he has always voted to keep Town Meeting, which he planned to continue in the coming election. However, he said, whether it is Town Meeting attendance, or turnout in the polls, voting participation has been dropping in Temple, and he would like to see an effort made to encourage voter participation.

Caisse disagreed with his fellow candidates, saying he was for the switch to ballot voting. “I would like the people to have the chance to educate themselves,” Caisse said. “Town Meeting is great, but to make a decision in five minutes is foolish on everybody’s behalf.”

In other issues that the candidates are championing, Peterson said that as a volunteer on the Temple Fire and Rescue squads, the other area he would like to see improvement in town is the incentives for maintaining and retaining the town’s employees. Peterson is also running for Fire Engineer, where he is also espousing that platform. Sullivan noted that another issue he would like to see have more leeway in town was providing the ability for sustainable food sources and agriculture.

Three of the candidates — Caisse, Peterson and Patria —are also running against each other and fellow candidate Art Kelley for the open position of Fire Engineer, the only other contested position on the ballot this year.

Calls to Patria seeking comment were not returned by press time Monday. Patria is a Lieutenant on the Temple Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the Wilton Ambulance.

Temple voting is on March 11 at the Town Hall.

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