The Day – Salem presents more than 40 candidates for municipal elections
Salem – From the Board of Selectmen to library trustees, there are races run here on November 2nd.
Two Democrats, John Houchin and TJ Butcher, and two Republicans, Pamela Munro and William “Skip” Dickson are vying for the last two places on the Selectmen board. Current first manager Kevin Lyden is running unopposed to sit on the board.
Lyden, who is not affiliated with but is in the Republican Party line, and was supported by Republicans and Democrats in the last election, named development and affordable housing, or the lack thereof, and the taking in charge of the city’s elderly as the main problems of the city.
âThere are new people from both parties showing up. I’m not an affiliate, so I encourage people to vote for the person, especially in a small town, who is going to do the right thing for Salem, and not just the party, âLyden said.
Butcher has lived in Salem since 1988 and chaired the Finance Council and the Democratic Municipal Committee for four years. He said the defining issue between Republicans and Democrats right now is about funding education.
âI think our finance council has been very tough on our education council, and I think that while the cuts in education have been justified so far, I fear that further cuts will cripple the ability of the school to provide the same quality of education that we have received thus far, âsaid Butcher.
Houchin has lived in Salem for 29 years. He is a former U.S. Army captain who retired in 2011 after 14 years as regional director of the State Department for Developmental Disorders. He served on the finance council and was chairman of the democratic city committee.
Munro, a retired educator, is a long-time former member of the Board of Education and the Zoning Appeal Board. Munro is a member of the board of directors of the LEARN regional education center.
His party said Munro, with his 18 years of service on city councils “will bring wisdom and common sense to the deliberations of elected officials.”
Dickson, an engineer, was chairman of the Finance Board. He worked as an engineer for Raytheon as well as General Dynamics / Electric Boat. The Republican city committee presents him as someone “who has guided Salem through recent budgets without increasing the thousandth rate.”
Republican Linda Flugrad will likely continue as city clerk as she runs on both the Democratic and Republican lines. She has 12 years of experience at the town hall.
Republican Pamela Henry will likely continue as city treasurer as she runs on both the Democratic and Republican lines. She spent eight years as treasurer and has 32 years of global experience in bookkeeping and tax services.
Vivian Waters, a Republican, runs unopposed to become the city’s tax collector. Democrat Danielle Mauri withdrew her candidacy before election day.
Democrat David Bingham is running against Republican Deborah Cadwell for the finance board. Democrat Janet Griggs, Republican Cory Bourgeois and Democrat Matt Rucci run unopposed to the finance council. Republicans John Bernier and Maryann Casciano run unopposed for the Finance Council substitute.
Cadwell, who owns the Witch Meadow Campground, has served on the board of directors for six years, previously served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for four years and spent 36 years with the Salem Volunteer Fire Department. Bingham, who founded the Salem Land Trust, is a former major in the US Army Medical Corps and founder of several companies. Bingham said in his candidate biography that he was running for the board of directors because he was disappointed with the constant reduction in the city’s education council budget.
Candidates of all stripes say the biggest problem with this year’s election, as it usually is, is the budget. The budget of the Education Council, which absorbs most of the city’s budget, is at the center of the political debate. Democrats say the city has systematically cut the budget for too long and it’s time to reinvest in schools. Republicans argue the city has been financially sound and able to cut taxes for years while maintaining a sizable school budget.
While candidates on both sides of the aisle say the city needs to retain its little rural charm, Democrats believe it should consider commercial development in some cases, while Republicans present themselves on a preservation platform property rights.
Outgoing Education Council Democrats Tiffany Cunningham, Tamara Maroc and Will Butler are running against three Republicans who are not currently board members, Maura Rehrig, Dan Marsh and Christina Fontaine.
Rehrig is a member of the library board. She is a small business owner and volunteer accountant with the Child & Family Agency of Southeast Connecticut.
Fontaine has spent 16 years working with young adults with special needs and people with disabilities. She’s a small business owner who, as the mother of a Salem graduate, says she “will be a voice for a reasonable budget, good for education and good for the taxpayer.”
Marsh is a retired probation officer and case manager supervisor who volunteers as a baseball and softball coach for various teams. He said the biggest difference between Republicans and Democrats running for the Education Council was fiscal conservatism.
âSchools need to remain fully funded, but we also need to make sure we meet these needs without overdoing it,â Marsh said. âWe are a little more conservative than the Democrats.
Morocco is a clinical project manager at Pfizer and volunteered as secretary of the PTO of the Salem school. She said she believed education was the top priority in Salem.
Cunningham, a longtime resident of Salem, is the chair of the school board’s long-term educational planning subcommittee and has focused her efforts on developing a strategic plan for the Salem School District.
The biography of Butler’s municipal committee says he “is proud to have played a role in the hiring of the new superintendent of Salem.”
Democrat Debra Gernhardt and Republican Robert Green are competing for a position on the Assessment Appeal Board.
A crowded Planning and Zoning Commission race includes five candidates from each party. Democrats Diba Khan-Bureau, Jennifer Lindo and Gary Closius are running against Republicans Walter Volberg, John Gadbois and Carl Fontneau. Democrats Sue Spang and Ruth Savalle are running against Republicans Steven Shelley and Dave Knopf for two alternate positions.
Democrat Charles Dutch is running unopposed for a post on the Zoning Appeal Board. Republican Elbert Burr is running against Democrat Rebecca Nortz for a seat on the board. And Republican True Smith is running unopposed for a board position.
Two Democrats, Elaine Jansen and Dee Doolittle, and a Republican, Maureen Collins, are running for two library administrator positions.