Milford selectmen candidates give positions

MILFORD – Five people are challenging Gary Daniels and Mark Fougere for two three-year seats on the board of selectmen. Both incumbents and three of the challengers showed up for a candidates’ forum last week moderated by Dave Alcox, the Milford High School’s award-winning “We the People” coach.

In his opening remarks, Paul Dargie, a veteran of the Milford School Board who also has served on a number of town committees, told the audience he has no agenda, and emphasized careful, long-term planning for projects like the fire station renovation.

“I just want to see Milford do well. … It’s always a balancing act” providing good services and being sensitive to taxpayers, he said.

Chris Labonte, a local business owner who is in his first year on the school budget committee, said he became interested in town government when he started to go to selectmen’s meetings.

“In the first months, I couldn’t understand what was going on,” he said, until he got selectmen to put documents relating to topics they were dealing with on the town website. “Clarity is my big thing,” he said, and voter turnout could be improved if town officials better explained what equipment they need and why it is needed.

Suzanne Fournier, founder of Brox Environmental Citizens, described herself as a full-time volunteer for the betterment of wildlife.

She said selectmen “don’t always follow well-established rules” and indicated she would be more transparent.

“I support Milford’s small-town character. I don’t want it to become a city,” she said.

Incumbent Mark Fougere disagreed with Fournier’s assessment.

“We have always operated honestly and truthfully. … We have different opinions” about the future of the Brox property, he said and talked about the importance of selectmen pushing to get projects, like the South Street renovations, to completion.

Right now selectmen are dealing with problems involving MACC-Base, the three-town emergency communications system.

“Police are not able to communicate the way they should,” Fougere said. Because three towns are involved, it’s “very complicated project that will cost over $1 million – that’s our big challenge.”

Gary Daniels, who also is a state senator and former school board member, is serving his 15th year as selectman. He said he wants to continue balancing growth with respect for individual rights and sensitivity to taxpayers’ concerns.

Prioritizing projects – library renovations versus MACC-Base upgrades for example – is one of the selectmen’s most difficult and important jobs, he said.

“We need emergency services to be able to talk with one another,” he said, referring to MACC-Base, and roads and bridges are critical, so it’s essential the board prioritize needs.”

A seventh candidate, James Powers, did not return phone calls and did not attend the forum.

Election Day is from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 13 in Milford Middle School.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland