Saturday April 27, 2013

LEE -- Days before the annual town election, the three candidates vying for a seat on the Lee Board of Selectmen have kicked their campaigns into high gear.

Incumbent Patricia Carlino and her two challengers, Planning Board member Thomas Wickham and Anne Langlais, who serves on the Conservation Commission, say they are speaking to as many voters as possible before Tuesday.

The three-way race for a three-year term as a selectman is the only contested race on Tuesday, also the date for the U.S. Senate primary. Polls will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the gymnasium at Crossway Village off High Street.

Carlino is touting her 33 years experience in town government -- the last 15 on the Board of Selectmen. The current board chairwoman has a lengthy local political résume that includes having served on the Planning Board, Lee School Committee and town clerk.

"It helps immensely to have the knowledge of what goes into making decisions in our various departments," she said.

Wickham also has an extensive resume. He has served for five years on the Planning Board, as a delegate to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and as a member of the Lee Library board of directors. He currently serves as chairman of the town’s Energy Efficiency Committee, which last year brokered a deal to establish a municipal solar energy project. The yet-to-be built solar arrays are expected to reduce electricity costs for Lee’s town buildings.


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If elected, Wickham vows to find other ways to save taxpayers money.

"We can’t seem to stop raising taxes on ourselves," he said. "I’m not sure, maybe smaller government is the answer."

Langlais also believes town government needs to "tighten its purse" and be more accessible to the voters. The businesswoman, who said many townspeople feel a disconnect with town officials, calls for an improved town website and town officials to pay closer attention to residents’ concerns.

"I’m not there just to represent myself. ... I’m not afraid to speak up," Langlais said, referring to her currently status as a town meeting representative, an elected position. She is one of 54 representatives from the town’s six districts authorized to vote at Lee’s annual and special town meetings.

While the candidates, all Lee natives, are bullish on their hometown, they see room for improvement.

Langlais hopes someone can redevelop the former Eagle Mill property behind Joe’s Diner, possibly a mixed-use of housing, retail and a "fabulous museum."

Wickham called on the state to free up more money for much needed municipal infrastructure improvements in Lee and other Western Massachusetts communities.

In addition to town roads and bridges, Carlino say she will continue to push for more investment in town parks and the cleanup of PCBs from the Housatonic River, which flows through town.

The Selectmen’s race is the only political contest on the town election ballot. Barring write- in candidates, the remaining incumbents seeking re- election for School Committee, town moderator and Lee Housing Authority are unopposed.

No candidates are listed on the ballot for one open five-year term on the Planning Board. Incumbent Anthony Caropreso has opted against seeking re-election to the five-member board.

Write-in candidates could emerge to help fill the position.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6233.