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Candidates field questions

Candidates for Select Board Alex grant, Mark Gold and Mark Barowsky field questions from Gerard Nolet May 29 during a taped debate sponsored by LCTV. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

Candidates for Select Board Alex Grant, Mark Gold and Mark Barowsky field questions from Gerard Nolet May 29 during a taped debate sponsored by LCTV. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

LONGMEADOW – Three candidates for two open Select Board seats faced off last week during a taped debate.
Longmeadow Community Television (LCTV) sponsored the event that featured 90 minutes of questions and answers asked by resident Gerard Nolet. The questions were submitted from residents and each candidate was asked the same question and given either one or two minutes to respond. Candidates did not pose questions to one another and the session was not open to the public. It is airing this week on LCTV.
The candidates include attorney Alex Grant, a political newcomer and regular opinion columnist for The Longmeadow News, and incumbents Mark Gold and Mark Barowsky.
During opening statements, Grant cited the town manager search process, Maple Road project, and rejection of the budget at town meeting as reasons why it was a “rough year” for the Select Board.
“It’s time for a new set of eyes on these problems,” said Grant.
Gold said his experience and understanding of the town departments and budget are reasons to re-elect him. He said in his four years as a board member he made significant positive contributions and brings in-depth understanding and a “balanced perspective” to the board. Gold was also a member of the Capital Planning Committee for 10 years, serving as chairman for eight years.
Barowsky said he has lived in Longmeadow for 53 years and has seen many changes. He has a decade of service to the town on various boards, including capital planning, finance and the select board, and said he brings experience to the table.
Nolet asked the candidates what three qualities made them good candidates for the board.
Grant said good judgment, a desire to serve the public and the ability to communicate topped his list.
For Gold, experience, knowledge of the town’s inner workings and demonstrated contributions to Longmeadow were the top qualities. Barowsky listed knowledge of budgeting, an understanding of capital needs, and the ability to balance needs across all departments were most important.
The men were asked about their thoughts on operational overrides and the town’s ability to operate without another override.
Barowsky said there is “a great deal of pressure in budgeting” and the town has stuck to its 2.5 percent tax increase ceiling. However, he said he does not believe it can continue. Grant said the town has been operating without an operational override since 2007 and he believes it can continue to do so. Gold pointed out that while there has not been an override, it is due to “hard work” from the Select Board, town manager and department heads.
“The ability to operate without an operational override doesn’t just happen,” said Gold.
One question posed asked the candidates what was their experience with MBO (Management By Objectives) as a way to measure performance.
Gold said his career gave him “fairly extensive” experience with MBO, something he brought to the board when first elected.
“I brought with me the first set of objectives and goals to use for the town manager as a goal setting device and evaluation process,” Gold said.
Barowsky said he is also experienced in MBO and said it is a good way to monitor project updates with department heads, which is also part of the town manager evaluation.
Grant said MBO is just “common sense.”
“It’s setting goals, checking up on those goals, and evaluating,” said Grant.
Grant then said that the Select Board dropped the ball on that process during the town manager search, as well as with the replacement of the Adult Center director and town Veterans Agent.
Candidates fielded questions on the town’s preparedness for a tragedy similar to the Newtown shooting, the difference between an operational override and a debt exclusion, their thoughts on janitorial versus maintenance in town, reduction of community services, and more.
During closing remarks, Barowsky told some voters he wasn’t their choice.
“If you’re an individual whose pay increases five-10 percent a year, want your taxes to go up, if you like deficit budgeting . . . then I’m not your guy,” Barowsky said.
Grant said residents who did not like the town manager search process and think the town can do better than status quo should “consider voting for me.”
Gold implored voters to re-elect him because of his knowledge, experience, and balanced perspective.
Town elections are June 11. The candidate debate will be aired on LCTV Channel 12.

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