Wilton selectmen challenged for seats

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Name: Terry Brann

Address: Walker Hill

Age: 65

Occupation: Graphic arts instructor at CMCC

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Name: Stephen Smith

Address:  65 High St.

Age: 32

Occupation: Paramedic with NorthStar, part-time police officer in Wilton, volunteer Wilton firefighter

Name:  Paul Gooch

Address: 76 High St.

Age: 63

Occupation: Retired principal, after 35 years in education in Maine

Name: Paul Berkey Jr.

Address: 28 Prospect St.

Age: 43

Occupation: Head custodian/maintenance-RSU 36 and Wilton apartment owner

WILTON — Two incumbent selectmen are being challenged for their seats in the June 1 town election.

Board Chairman Terry Brann, completing a sixth year on the board, is being challenged by Stephen Smith. Selectman Paul Gooch faces challenger Paul Berkey Jr.

Paying for services, taxes and economic development highlight town concerns voiced by the candidates.

The town needs to sell tax-acquired properties to get them back to generating revenue, Brann said. “We need to do our utmost to keep taxes at the lowest possible rate and yet maintain services,” he said.

With taxpayer approval, the town has to move forward with renovations to the sewage treatment plant, which would be expensive but is necessary, he said.

The board must continue dealing with removal of three troublesome buildings, Forster Manufacturing, the primary school and the tannery. Decision-making has been slow while the board has explored its options, Brann said.

Water and sewer rates and the properties acquired by the town are issues for the town to deal with, Berkey said.

Selectman Gooch also sees taxes, business and jobs, road maintenance, the sewer treatment plant and disposal of town properties as issues.

“We need to continue to try to find the balance of how much our community is willing and able to pay for the services the town offers and/or we need to determine what services the town is willing to do without having to reduce spending,” Gooch said.

Miles of roads in town need repairs and the treatment plant is more than 10 years beyond its expected lifespan. Plans for both are costly, he said.

“We have a plan to retrofit and rebuild the plant. … We need to deal with this now before it becomes a major problem and much more costly,” he said.

Dealing with taxes also concerns Smith. The select board has cut as much as they can, he said.

“We need to figure out how to bring more revenue in, new companies and jobs and some other sources of revenue rather than raising taxes. That’s the last thing,” he said.

Smith would like to see the town progress and blossom like it used to, he said. It may cost money but the town has great storefronts that need work.

He hopes to bring the select board back to the people. With good communication skills, he wants to give everybody a chance to be heard and have their say. After listening and gaining understanding of their concerns, he wants to make his voice on the board their voice, he said.

His goal is to create an email account in which residents can discuss their concerns with him.

After serving as principal of Wilton’s elementary schools for 28 years, Gooch wants to continue to serve the community.

“I believe I have the ability to look at all sides of an issue, listen to all constituencies, evaluate various approaches to the problem and then apply common sense to reach a solution,” he said.

As a Wilton resident for 33 years and a former town employee for 10, Berkey is an active Lions Club member and operates an apartment business in town.

“I am an active listener and have good communications skills,” he said. “I am aware of the issues that concern the Wilton townspeople and am prepared to be their voice.”

Serving as chairman of the board for the past two years, Brann said the board has faced some difficult decisions with more likely in the future.

He’s well-versed in contract negotiations after working directly with town employees. He’s been involved with the Recycling Committee and believes the town should increase its recycling to keep costs down.

He’s served on the county Budget Committee for two years.

“I am trying very hard to keep any increase in the county budget to an absolute minimum,” he said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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