Salem Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee candidates were grilled Thursday night on a variety of topics from curbside waste pickup to union contracts during the annual Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce Candidates Night.
Selectmen candidate Ronald Belanger stood apart from his three other fellow
candidates on the issue of the Sanbornization of union contracts, with which he disagrees.
“I don’t think that one board should obligate another board during bad economic times,” said Belanger.
The premise behind Sanbornization is that residents are approving on a multi-year contract with one vote before the first year.
Other attending candidates James Keller, Everett McBride and Anthony McKeon (Carl Swiderski did not respond to the request to appear) all approve of the contracts. McBride said that he is convinced that there will be significant savings on health care should they pass.
A total savings of $238,560 will be incurred for the nine remaining months of 2012 following the election by changing the health insurance provider to Cigna.
Five contracts will be on the ballot that the voters will be asked to approve on, each multiple years in length.
All four candidates for the Budget Committee who appeared (candidate Richard Baillargeon was unable to attend) support the contracts, although incumbent Paul Huard said that he dislikes the term “Sanbornization,” but added that the idea of multi-year contracts is a good one.
Fellow candidate Robert Bryant agreed, saying that it helps to know what next year is going to bring.
“I believe it gives you an opportunity to look out in the future (and) see exactly what your expenses are,” said Bryant.
Also running for the Budget Committee is Paul Welch, who used to work on a fire department in Massachusetts. He said that he “wasn’t totally opposed” to the concept, adding that he used to have multi-year contracts when he was a firefighter.
“It lets you know what you are getting into,” said Welch.
Belanger also split off from his fellow selectmen candidates on the issue of background checks, and whether they should take place for Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment candidates.
He disagreed with them, saying that nobody gets a background check right now from any of the boards in town.
He said that a simple Internet search could suffice for those vetting candidates.
“If they just Google somebody’s name they can probably figure out everything that they want to know without putting someone through a criminal record check,” said Belanger.
Keller brought up the subject as something that he would encourage should voters decide to have candidates for both boards appointed.
The four selectmen candidates were against the curbside waste pickup warrant on the ballot, each presenting varying arguments.
Candidate Everett McBride argued curbside pickup would cost more money, saying that there would be a total increase from $86 to $119 a ton.
“I think we’ve got the data that proved that we should stick with the transfer station,” said McBride.
Belanger added that trash buckets will be all over the place in the winter, especially on the narrow roads.
“I don’t want Salem to look like that,” said Belanger.
Both the Selectmen and Budget Committee candidates also united in support of Article 12, which would make Salem an SB2 town.
Also posed to the budget committee as part of the SB2 question was whether the committee would still be needed should that article pass.
Huard said that the committee would still be needed.
“I will oppose any attempt of it and I don’t see anything in SB2 that says the budget committee is not necessary,” said Huard.
Also issuing statements at the event were school board candidates Michael Carney Jr. and Pamela Berry, ZBA candidates Gary Azarian and Bernard W. Campbell and Planning Board candidates Edward DeClercq, John J. Manning, Phyllis O’Grady and Paul Pelletier.