There is a full slate of candidates for public offices in Conway. All deserve to be commended for their willingness to serve as well as your consideration at the polls Tuesday, April 10.
Here are our picks:
Of the four strong candidates running for two seats, our two choices are Michael DiGregorio and Stacy Sand.
DiGregorio has in the past held positions we disagree with (stripping the budget committee of its power among them), but none egregious enough to warrant an objection to his candidacy. He knows the job, still has energy for it, and seems to be rising toward a leadership role. We don’t see any reason to push for a change. We are particularly interested in his effort to revamp local government by consolidating the precincts.
Sand is a former vice chairman of the planning board, and while a Conway resident, of course, she's not as "local" as most of the current board. She would not only bring new energy and a different perspective, but represent a different constituency, which would be healthy for the board. This year’s budget committee showed how diversity can help a board reach its potential. We’d like to see a similar diversity on the board of selectmen.
Bob Drinkhall and Steven Porter are good candidates, but they would likely vote very similarly to the current board.
Drinkhall’s sharp eye, however, deserves a special mention. Every board could use someone like him, someone who sweats the details, from budgets to meeting minutes.
The town, however, is not where this skill could be best applied. Town government is well managed and doesn’t have an obvious spending problem. Drinkhall's sharp eye would best be utilized on the budget committee or on the school board, where fiscal discipline is really needed.
There are five candidates running for four seats, and unfortunately the field is not very strong. We can only back two candidates: Maureen Seavey and Peter Donohoe.
Seavey and Donohoe are both fair-minded community members willing to listen. They don't have special-interest axes to grind, and would work on budgets with eye on serving the community as a whole.
The other three candidates, however — Steven Steiner, Ray Shakir and Michael Fougere — have all made their extremist views quite clear at public meetings.
The budget committee does not need more members looking only to talk past each other, incapable of engaging in discussion. It won’t help the budget committee, and it won’t help the town. Sad to say, that is exactly what these three candidates represent.
Our suggestion? Vote for Seavey and Donohoe and write in the two selectman candidates you don’t vote for. That’s the best advice we can offer.
With five candidates vying for two school board seats, we are sticking with incumbents: Randy Davison and Syndi White. The school board has lots of problems, but these two candidates aren’t among them.
Davison was a bit too spirited at sporting events (a fact we would like to see him acknowledge with an apology), but he has shown a willingness to ask the tough questions. That’s a rare thing among a usually complacent group of board members.
He is not afraid to stand alone, does his homework, and is prepared for whatever comes up. We’d like to see more like him on the board.
White, who just finished her first term, seems to have found her voice. She has become equally willing to ask hard questions, even when they challenge the decisions of school superintendent Carl Nelson. She always advocates for education and has outlined several lofty goals for the next three years. She deserves an opportunity to bring those to fruition.
Kelley Murphy has great passion for this community, but we believe her life's plate is already too full to be a fully-engaged school board member. We fear she may quit before finishing her term, as she did in 2010.
Ben Kane might be worth a hard look were it not for the strength of the two incumbents.
Bill Masters, a former budget committee member, was the only member of that board to tour Conway Elementary School in three years. He had questions and went to get answers — a good indication of his dedication. He is also good with numbers and willing to listen to all sides, but his part in the 11 percent school budget cut last year makes it hard to consider him a viable choice.
This race, like that for the two seats at the selectmen’s table, poses the problem of two good choices. Tom Steele would undoubtedly do a fine job if he were to retake the moderator’s podium he occupied years ago, but we see no reason to replace the incumbent.
Steele said it himself: “Please let me first emphasize that I have no concerns with the present moderator. She is a most capable town meeting officer.” We agree. Rebecca Oleson has proven a fair and effective referee over the past two years. We would like to see her continue in the position, and not turn this race into a popularity contest.