Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Milford Mayoral Debates Draw Unusually Large Crowd

For nearly 30 years the Plymouth Men's Club has been hosting the towns Mayoral Debates, and the debate moderator said that this years debate was among the largest in Recent memory.

The debate also had four candidates, Tim Chaucer, Genevieve Salvatore, Jim Richetelli, and Peter Spalthoff. Each candidate arrived with their own contingent of family members and campaign supporters adding to the unusually high number of attendees.

The event moderator had the local Boy Scouts hand out index cards and pencils, the audience wrote their questions on the index cards and submitted them to the moderator. The moderator grouped the questions together and asked the candidates the most popular ones.

One such question was, historic preservation and the destruction of the Cadley House. Richetelli received the most amount of fire on this question as all three candidates were remarkably upset with the demolition of that property. Richetelli repeated what he always has, that the property was beyond preservation but added that he "regretted" they way it happened and in hindsight would have involved Milford's Historical Preservation Committee.

The Building department and the Controversial Kimball Report was also a topic of discussion. Peter Spalthoff who is currently putting an addition on his 26 Broad Street property said there are many great employees in the building department and what they need is the proper leadership, technology, and support to get the job done correctly. He opined that spending $40,000.00 of the taxpayers money to point out why the department was not working was an imprudent use of funds.

Salvatore agreed and said that under her watch the building department would have been "more welcoming" and she would have added "Customer Service" to the equation. Salvatore said that she would give the people of Milford the "Services the pay for."

On the question of improving Milford, all candidates agreed that purchasing open space is a "good Idea" Spalthoff and Chaucer however were more concerned with the fact that the sidewalk by Harrison's Hardware has caused numerous injuries to pedestrians and questioned Richetelli on why it took so many public injuries and four years to repair it. Richetelli cited that the rules and regulations surrounding those kinds of issues are complex. That the city must follow legal protocol, notify the owners prior to work and place liens on offending properties a process that takes time.

Other public concerns were over flooding, and Ms. Salvatore said that a person she met while out campaigning has two separate residences because her place at the beach is impassable at high tide because the water submerges her driveway. At low tide she returns home, at high tide she goes to her apartment in Orange. Ms. Salvatore said that she would help alleviate flooding concerns at the beach to assist people in need.

Richetelli rebutted, saying that much of the Milford waterfront is below sea level and when you purchase a house at the beach you run that kind of risk. Richetelli also blamed unusually high tides for the flooding and said the he has been aware of these tantamount issues for a while.

On the issue of Eisenhower Park, Spalthoff questioned the logic behind spending money on studies only later to waste that money by walking away from it. Richetelli blamed the economy, and called many of the project cancellations as necessary given the most difficult economic climate he has ever experienced as Mayor. He also added that his opposition to the Jonathan Law bonding was also another difficult decision.

Another question regarding pensions came up, and Chaucer accused Richetelli of over reporting the health of that program. Chaucer alleged that Milford's pension fund lost more money than Fairfied's after the Madoff Scandal. Richetelli accused Chaucer of not having his facts straight and said the pension fund is over funded by 125% but those were the figures before the market declined admitting that the number may be different today.

Spalthoff cited an official report expressing concern over the cities pension fund and alleged that this years tax decrease will have to be made up in next years budget. Spalthoff said that the people of Milford got duped, because next year the break we received will have to be compounded to fulfill the contractual obligations the city entered into.

Spalthoff said that when the city goes looking for the money and cannot find it, the only alternative will be "higher taxes."

The debate concluded with a summary from each of the candidates, and each read what appeared to be a carefully prepared statement to the audience. Richetelli stood on his record, Salvatore promised Change, Chaucer offered historic preservation. Spalthoff spoke entirely without a written statement, and promised to make Milford more business friendly citing over eighty small businesses (he counted) that shut down along the Post Road.

Reviews from the audience were mixed, many came to support their candidate and therefore were not swayed by the debate while others appreciated the opportunity afforded them to question each of these candidates on the local issues in town.

The entire debate was recorded and the video will be posted here when made available to me.

Each of the candidates have their websites listed below for more information.

Jim Richetelli Peter Spalthoff
Genevieve Salvatore Tim Chaucer

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