The Question

By S.D. Plissken | February 24, 2019

Meet the Candidates Night is to take place tonight, February 24, at 6:00 PM, at the Emma Ramsey Center.

There are actually few choices to be made on this year’s ballot. Most of the candidates are running unopposed.

Running Unopposed

Thomas McDougall and Humphrey Williams are the two candidates running for two seats on the Budget Committee. There is a third seat with no candidate at all.

James M. “Mike” Beaulieu and Sean Skillings are the two candidates running for two seats on the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Bruce W. Woodruff is the sole candidate for the Cemetery Trustee seat. Miranda Myhre is the sole candidate for Library Trustee. Joseph A. Michaud is the sole candidate for a Planning Board seat. Mackenzie Campbell is the sole candidate for Treasurer. Brittney Leach is the sole candidate for Trustee of the Trust Funds. Michelle Beauchamp is the sole candidate for Town Clerk / Tax Collector.

Barring some upset write-in candidate, these people will hold these seats. Votes by themselves, their spouses, their parents, and their children would be enough to put them in office. That is nothing against them, who have stepped up to do a task, but just don’t take it as much of a “mandate.”

The only contested elections are for a single seat on the Board of Selectmen and a single three-year seat as Fire Chief.

Fire Chief – Three Year Position = Vote for not more than One

Incumbent Nicholas Marique and challenger Stephen D. Duchesneau are vying to be Fire Chief. I am not aware of any published statements issued by either candidate, except perhaps that Mr. Duchesneau’s campaign signs are frequently accompanied by similarly colored ones urging us to “Stop the Spending.”

Board of Selectmen – Three Year Position – Vote for not more than One

The five candidates for the single seat on the Board of Selectmen are Andrew “Andy” Rawson, Adam G. Sturtevant, Billy Walden, James M. “Mike” Beaulieu, and Lawrence D. “Larry” Brown.

You may recognize the names of Andrew Rawson and James M. “Mike” Beaulieu as being two of the three selectmen of the year before last: the 2017-18 year. The third of that year was the current board chairman, Ryan Thibeault.

This is the group that authorized and oversaw the massively flawed valuation of that year. James M. Beaulieu left office early, so did not take a part in the aftermath. Neither then Chairman Andrew Rawson nor then Selectman Thibeault have ever explained what caused the problem – apart from blaming the assessing contractor – or any details of its size and scope, or their role in the problem – either in its making or in offering any proposed solutions.

The current board, which includes then Selectman Thibeault as its current chairman, claimed the unauthorized overages and used the money to blur their own spending increases. Candidate Lawrence D. “Larry” Brown noted approvingly that the law permits this.

Even without the assessment problem, the trio of Rawson, Beaulieu, and Thibeault were right in line with past boards in completely failing to rein in greater-than-inflation budget increases. They were the component parts of yet another failed board – voting unanimously to spend more than we have.

So, Andrew “Andy” Rawson, James M. “Mike” Beaulieu, and, to a lesser extent, Lawrence D. “Larry” Brown, who is also a former selectmen, have all quite a bit of overdue explaining to do. Of all the five candidates, these three most of all would need to demonstrate firm commitments to change – I know, the likely worth of politicians’ promises – before they are again trusted with the keys.

The Question

In terms of this Meet the Candidates Night, there is one fundamental question to be asked.

That question is not “how long have you lived in Milton,” nor is it “by how much will you cut the tax rate,” nor “by how much will you cut the rate of budget increase,” nor whether or not Milton needs “more businesses” to fuel its overspending, nor how might such cuts affect services, nor even “muh community.”  It is much too late for all those standard circumlocutions.

The only meaningful question for these candidates is: By how much will you cut the Town budget?

If, as has been reliably calculated, our current Town budget is half again what it should be, only budget cuts can restore sanity. Not fiddling of a combination of valuation and tax rate, nor level-funding a bloated budget, but cutting the overall budget.

Anyone who cannot answer this simple question in a clear and satisfactory manner can not be trusted with the keys. In effect, they will be telling you – by not answering – that they will be the reliable third vote on future budget and tax increases.

Kick start the change now. Ask the question. Vote only for candidates that can answer it.

References:

Town of Milton. (2019, February). Meet the Candidates. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/2.24.19_candidates_night_.pdf

Author: S.D. Plissken

I thought he'd be taller.

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