NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 24, 2013

Anderson, Devine vie for selectman's seat in W. Newbury

BY JENNIFER SOLIS
CORRESPONDENT

---- — WEST NEWBURY — Voters have a choice to make next Tuesday in a race for a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen. None of the other 12 seats being filled at this year’s town elections are contested.

Polls in the Town Annex, 379 Main St., will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Selectmen’s candidates Joe Anderson and Kristi Devine recently answered the following questions on issues facing the town:

Joe Anderson

Address: 214 Bachelor St.

Age: 56

Occupation: region manager

Education: bachelor’s degree

Residency: 11 years

Public service: Finance Committee, 9 years; previous member of Regional Dispatch Study Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Question 1: Where do you stand on moving toward a full-time fire department?

We have a high functioning volunteer fire department, with adequate coverage during daytime hours. The Board of Fire Engineers is looking at various staffing options for the future. I look forward to that discussion.

Question 2: Would you support a “Phase III” approach to the Page School renovations; how would you approach the infrastructure needs of the regional secondary school campus?

Town Meeting was very clear last year, asking to see a potential Page School project list. I’ll make this a priority. The potential projects need to be prioritized and have cost estimates associated with each component. My preference would be to incorporate the projects into the town’s capital improvements schedule, avoiding the need for another debt exclusion override.

In the not-too-distant future, the middle and high schools will face significant infrastructure needs. This will be a major financial challenge to the town. The middle school needs intermediary upgrades, such as the roof, windows and heating system, which may be eligible for a 50 percent green repair reimbursement from the state. Depending on the extent of the projects, West Newbury may be able to fund our share from free cash, avoiding a property tax increase.

The high school will require a more extensive major renovation. As it will take a number of years to come to a consensus and to create an actual project plan, it would most likely not affect our taxes for at least 4-5 years. My objective is to replace town debt — scheduled to retire in FY ‘18, ‘19 and ‘20 — with debt needed to fund the renovation. This scenario would have little, if any, impact to increase taxes.

Question 3: Would you favor a hunting policy to allow bow hunting on town-owned land?

In general, I support the right to hunt. There’s currently a “working group” that’s put in a lot of time to study this. I would like to hear the results of their analysis, consult with the town attorney and to listen to the public input. I think it’s premature to support this before we have complete information.

Kristi Devine

Address: 7 Montclair Road

Age: 55

Occupation: At-home mom; previously 10 years in financial industry, also in the publishing industry and as a restaurant owner

Education: Boston University, 2 years

Residency: 13 years

Public Service: Scott Brown for U.S. Senate campaign volunteer; coordinator of volunteers for McKenna for Attorney General campaign; Red Cross Relief volunteer; state chair for Government Reform & Integrity Platform

Question 1: Where do you stand on moving toward a full-time fire department?

The current call volume doesn’t warrant a full-time department. Any coverage deficiencies during weekdays due to more volunteer firefighters holding day jobs outside town can be addressed by scheduling “standby” during those hours with compensation on a per diem basis. A relatively high percentage of the current firefighters are both firefighter I/II and EMT trained, but if necessary, the department could broaden its recruitment efforts to include other suitable candidates already employed by the town. These cost-effective adjustments ensure safety remains a top priority without a costly change to a system that has worked so well for so long.

Question 2: Would you support a “Phase III” approach to the Page School renovations; how would you approach the infrastructure needs of the regional secondary school campus?

No, every essential or required issue should be addressed first. It’s good to anticipate future problems and needs, but we shouldn’t fix things that aren’t broken. Some of the proposed Phase III upgrades do just that. These items should be reviewed in the context of other impending issues, like the infrastructure needs of the other schools. As to these needs, they should be evaluated using a farsighted cost benefit analysis with the appreciation that facilities, in and of themselves, comprise but one component of insuring success in the classroom and the superior school system we all wish to achieve.

Question 3: Would you favor a hunting policy to allow bow hunting on town-owned land?

This issue is most appropriately put to our residents for vote. The question emanates from the overpopulation of deer, which, beyond being an issue for the deer themselves, causes numerous car accidents, and Lyme disease, both potentially fatal to residents. If a hunting policy isn’t adopted, an alternative to controlling deer overpopulation by other means must be addressed.