Seven speak at Rochester Candidates Night
ROCHESTER – Candidates for the board of health, planning board, ORR school committee, water commission and board of assessors showed up at the candidates night on May 6.
Hosted by Selectman Woody Hartley, the event at Rochester Council on Aging gave candidates in the May 26 municipal election the opportunity to present their agenda and answer questions from the community.
Hartley began the evening by noting that there were three elected positions on the ballot with no official candidates: the moderator, the Cemetery Commission and the Rochester Memorial School committee.
Hartley encouraged interested residents to start writing or sticker campaigns.
The first candidate speakers were Sarah Eby and the incumbent Dale Barrows, candidate for the Health Council.
Eby spoke first, and noted that he was an 11-year-old resident and assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 31.
Ebay is a nurse by trade, which she says gives her the experience to do the job.
“I watch a lot of workflow,” she says, noting that a lot of her job involves observing guidelines and “best practices,” skills that she said she would like to acquire “and bring to the Board of Health.
Barrows, a 35-year-old resident, followed Eby.
He said he had recently retired as Mattapoisett’s health director, and noted he had been on the health board for 24 years.
“I think I’ve done a good job serving the city and the board,” Barrows said. “Pretty much, there’s nothing that can happen that I haven’t dealt with already.”
After Eby and Barrows, unopposed candidates Jana Cavanaugh for the board of assessors and Matthew Monteiro for the school ORR committee both made brief statements.
Cavanaugh said she had been an appraiser for 33 years and would run “probably one more term.”
“We have a great board in Rochester,” she said.
Monteiro said he was running for the ORR school committee in part because: “I believe the school is the backbone of Tri-Town.
A stay-at-home dad with a ninth-grade son, Monteiro noted his experience working in the mental health field and a brief stint as an accountant, which he said could help with the committee’s budgeting.
“After this year, these kids need a lot of help,” he said.
Although the Planning Council race was contested between Dennis McCarthy, incumbent Lee Carr and Marc Rousseau, only McCarthy was present at the candidates’ night.
“Why should you choose me for the Planning Board?” McCarthy said, “I’m the only one here.”
McCarthy noted that he believes Rochester is at a development “crossroads” caught between solar and residential developments and a lack of industry in the city.
As a developer himself, McCarthy said he can bring a “unique perspective” to the board.
“Bringing a development perspective – I think – is important for the board,” he said.
Finally, in the only discussion that raised questions from residents, there was Selectman Brad Morse and David Hughes for the Water Commission.
“Water is our most important product,” said Hughes.
The 60-year-old resident has advocated for expanding the city’s water system, run by Wareham but sourced from Rochester, to include more residents and tap into the North Rochester Lakes.
When asked how an expansion would be paid for, Hughes kept his options open, noting user fees on new connections and “financial deals” as possibilities.
While Hughes was vague on how to pay for an expansion, he noted, “I’m not sure I want to force anyone into the water system.”
Hughes also noted Morse’s position as Selectman, saying “it’s important to have someone on the board who only has one vote.”
Morse did not respond to Hughes’ comment when he spoke. Instead, he focused on his time in the city civil service, starting in the 90s with a post on the Planning Council. He held this position until 2004, when he became Selectman.
“I just think I can help the board,” Morse said.
On the issue of expansion, Morse said he was working with Wareham in his water district to help them grow.
“So I have experience in expanding things,” he said.