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by Bette Britt
Voter turnout is expected to be heavier than usual when polls open at the historic town house on Friday, March 1 because two experienced candidates each want to be second selectman.
Both incumbent Colby Pert and Nelson Grindal can claim longevity in office and either current or very recent service as selectman. Town clerk Cynthia Reilly and road commissioner Paul Carter are seeking re-election to 3-year terms. Those with a yen for public service may well find an opening as a write-in candidate on the school board, along with incumbent Ashley Pesek, where seats to be filled include two for 3-year terms. Appointed to fill a vacancy in 2012, Susan Ford seeks election to the balance of a two-year term.
Voters will also have the opportunity to vote on an on-premise local liquor option. As outlined in the January 31 issue of The Weekly Packet, the two-part question involves licensing of by-the-glass alcohol at establishments such as restaurants and offers a choice of options. It was petitioned by Jill Smith, who plans to re-open the former Country View in the spring. Only Smith and El El Frijoles’ proprietor Michael Rossney attended a public hearing held at the town office on February 7.
Nelson Grindal served three terms (nine years) as first selectman, opting not to run in 2011, but now he’s back and anxious to serve again, as second selectman this time. In the interim, he was liaison on the Walker Pond access project with Brooksville and Sedgwick selectmen; he termed it “a fabulous collaboration,” during a recent interview, and indicated such efforts could take place between the schools whose shrinking enrollments have meant not enough students for teams. Having been a selectman, when asked about area needs, Grindal was quick to suggest that solid, low impact light industry coming to the area would encourage population growth, yet he is wary of anything that would change the “peaceful, gentle town” from what it is now.
He acknowledged that Sedgwick has just about anything anyone could want now, and feels he’s just the booster the town needs in office. Grindal was quick to say, when first selectman, he’d enjoyed work on the Walker Pond project and would like to work to make sure the town’s many other access points are available to the public. Without being specific, he expressed concern about “minor problems that become major problems” and indicated selectmen should have “input on every issue,” keeping eyes peeled on the end results. Why does Grindal want to become a selectman again? He was very specific in his answer, “I have the time and skills to concentrate on the issues of the town … constant contact with people … and background. I think I can make it work.” Grindal first became a selectman 11 years ago.
Colby Pert, incumbent
Incumbent Colby Pert has been second selectman for a total of 17 years, with a seven year absence marking the time from his initial election to the board to his “retirement” in 2004. He is seeking re-election now to continue working on what he sees as “evolving issues;” they center on money to provide services to the town. A case in point, he said, is the cost of education and where to find the funding when state financial aid decreases every year. Sedgwick has a fine school—it’s a virtual community center, according to Pert who says the school board, “does heroic work” preparing the budget; it’s up to selectmen to find the town share of funding, something that’s not easy in the present economy. Several years ago, he served on the area-wide committee discussing consolidation, a group “that dug up some good things,” Pert stated, indicating ways of sharing services while enabling towns to keep their schools at a time of decreasing enrollment. Where’s the money coming from? The selectmen annually struggle “to hold the line on taxes,” he said. Asked for other issues that need looking after, he indicated the town needs some sort of sand/salt shed and must get property valuations up to date, hold the line on taxation and figure out ways to make every penny count. As for why he’s running for selectman again, Pert declared, “I do enjoy it … I think there are things we can do, but we have to have discussion about [the cost of] education, how we can have the best education for the least amount of money.” In conclusion, Pert looks forward to better communication service to result from talks just beginning with Time Warner.
Cynthia Reilly, town clerk
Cynthia Reilly has been on the job as town clerk since 1995, inching on toward 20 years ago, but when asked what issues she has as Sedgwick town clerk, Reilly replies “none.” She enjoys working in the town office Wednesdays and Thursdays and “other times by chance or appointment,” but she also encourages calls to her home on Tuesday evenings. Reilly enjoys knowing people in town and being of help, whether it’s issuing a marriage license or making sure every dog in town is licensed.
Paul Carter, road commissioner
After nearly 28 years on the job, Paul Carter is seeking yet another term as road commissioner. He owns his own equipment and, this winter, shares plowing duties with Dave Webb and Nick Gray. The crews may have differed over the years, but the fact that Carter remains as road commissioner means it’s simple to know who to call if a drift needs to be plowed before traffic picks up. Carter has a different reason for running as road commissioner: it’s a challenge. But he also likes the year-round job for the town which meshes with private jobs he performs, such as putting in driveways.
His favorite jobs are grading dirt roads, indicating he tries to stay within budget, whether the town’s or that of someone hiring him to do work for them. If anything can be said to annoy Carter, it’s that the state doesn’t do enough to take care of its roads or, at least, supply enough funds for the town to take care of them.
“There’s always something to do as road commissioner, “said Carter.