BETHEL — The only contest at the annual election Tuesday is between incumbent Robert Everett and challenger Peter Southam. Both explained Thursday afternoon why they are seeking the three-year post.
"I'm just not finished," Everett, 64, of Flat Road in West Bethel, said.
"There's a lot that I can offer the town. I think that through the years, I've learned a lot and with that knowledge, I think I've got more things to do.
One of them is retooling the cumbersome Sign Ordinance, he said. "I'd like to definitely get involved in that," Everett said.
"I also think for the number of years that I've been on the selectboard, we've been fairly conservative on what we've done for money and we've tried to put the town in a good position.
"One of my pet peeves is, no matter what you do as selectman, you've always got to remember that any decision you make on the Board of Selectmen, you protect the taxpayers in some manner, and you've always got to think about that," Everett said.
Aside from the Sign Ordinance, he said other looming problems to fix are roads and the sewer treatment plant.
"I think our sewer customers are in a situation right now where it's really expensive for them with a plant that was overengineered to start with, and with the aspect where we're not using it to full potential when we come in for maintenance, it's quite a burden," Everett said.
"That's going to be a big hurdle and it's going to hit us sooner or later. We've got to look out for the taxpayer."
Everett has municipal experience; he served a year on the Planning Board, several years on the SAD 44 School Board and was a selectman. He also served several years on the Board of Assessors, for which he is also seeking re-election.
Southam, 47, of the Songo Pond Road, said he doesn't have any municipal government experience, but has served on local recreational-related boards. He is president of the Mahoosuc Pathways Board of Directors and treasurer for the Bethel Outing Club, and is on the board for the local chapter of the New England Bicycling Association.
He and his wife are teachers and moved to Bethel in 1990 from Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H. He teaches biology and chemistry at Gould Academy. Southam also owns Bethel Bicycles, a Route 2 business, and coaches road cycling and mountain biking at Gould.
With his recreational background, Southam said he wants to help guide Bethel into the future and doesn't believe the current board is striving toward that.
"I just think that the board needs maybe a slightly different voice," he said. "Right now, it's a lot of people who have lived in Bethel all their lives and that's good, because they know what Bethel's always been, but I'm not sure they're thinking about where Bethel's going.
"It's an older crowd, I mean, I think they're looking out for the best interest of Bethel, but I don't think they're looking at what Bethel could be in terms of the future and recreational possibilities and four season possibilities," Southam said.
He also said he's "excited about the opportunity to give back to the community and get involved more."
Southam agreed with Everett that roads and the sewer treatment plant are upcoming issues that need work.
"I'm also concerned about our taxes and I would like to do all the things I can do without making that more," he said.
In other municipal elections, Everett is running unopposed for re-election to a three-year term on the Board of Assessors, and no one took out papers for two three-year terms on the SAD 44 board. That means write-in candidates will likely be chosen.
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 12 at Crescent Park School.