Amherst trustee candidates focus on Cemetery Fields

AMHERST – Someday it might be possible to develop some of Cemetery Fields into recreation fields, one of the candidates for Cemetery Trustee said last week, but the issue is dead for now.

Cynthia Dokmo, a retired attorney and former state representative, spoke at a candidates’ forum Feb. 11. She is one of two candidates for the three-year position.

Trustees last year were embroiled in a battle with selectmen and other residents over use of the Merrimack Road fields, which trustees have put off-limits to recreation in order to plan a burial ground.

“I think that Cemetery Fields being used as fields for the moment is over,” Dokmo said. “Proponents thought it would be easy to do it, and it’s not going to be easy. Opponents thought it impossible, and it’s not impossible.”

Dokmo, whose law practice specialized in trusts and estates, said she has no agenda and chose to run because of all the headlines about the trustees versus selectmen and the recreation department.

But now the trustees need to focus on getting finances in order, she said, and getting the new cemetery planned, and “then maybe in the future look to see if there is excess land that can be used for fields.”

Dokmo’s opponent, Lisa Eastman, who described herself as an avid volunteer, said she wants to increase the transparency of the Cemetery Trustees’ work.

“From YouTube I can (learn to) fix my well. I can make Diet Coke explode with Mentos to music,” she said, so there’s no reason more information can’t be made available online about the trustees’ work.

Eastman also said she is excited about planning for Forestview Cemetery, and the town should put costs in a warrant article so voters can be involved.

A third candidate for Cemetery Trustee, Norman Carnick, has withdrawn. The position is one of only three contested races this year.

Two men, David Chen and Dwayne Purvis, and running for one three-year Amherst seat on the Souhegan Cooperative School Board, which serves Amherst and Mont Vernon.

Chen, who was on the high school’s founding committee 25 years ago, said they took risks in planning for an innovative school and the school needs to be continuously improving.

Both candidates are on the school district’s finance committee, and Chen said he would like to address the high school’s high cost per pupil, and align spending with declining enrollment.

Purvis said he is not sure everyone shares that concern about costs.

“Before we make any kind of serious Draconian cuts,” he said, “we should consider what kind of quality we should continue to offer, and how to attract people who don’t have a problem with quality.”

There are two people running for town Trustee of the Trust Fund – Lori Mix and Kevin Grassett.

Mix, the incumbent, was the only one at the forum and she talked about helping develop new policies and procedures, explained what a trust fund is and the rules and regulations governing them.

The forum was hosted by the American Association of University Women and can be seen on demand over the Internet and on community television 20 until election day.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.