DALTON — A veteran member of the Dalton Select Board faces a challenge from a town employee in Monday’s election.
Robert W. Bishop Jr. seeks reelection to a three-year seat on the town’s top board. John W. Roughley, who serves as Dalton’s highway superintendent, is running for the post in a contest that will be decided during voting from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Dalton CRA at 400 Main St.
Voting hours have been trimmed an hour at the start and finish, because of the availability of early and mail voting, said Town Clerk Deborah J. Merry.
The race for the Select Board seat is the ballot’s only contest.
Bishop, a Crane Co. retiree, is in his sixth year on the board, serving as chair for three of them. He said he is running again to bring a spirit of responsiveness to town government.
“I don’t duck anybody,” he said. “I try to get back to people. I always try to make the best decision for the town. I love Dalton, and I’ll always do anything to help this town out.”
Bishop cites as recent accomplishments the hiring of a new police chief, Deanna Strout, and a new town manager, Thomas Hutcheson, who began work this week. Bishop was a regular presence in Town Hall during the coronavirus pandemic year, helping the interim manager, Sandra Albano.
“We got this town through some dark times here,” Bishop said. “I feel very good about that.”
Bishop also served on the Conservation Commission for 32 years — and spent 25 years as its chairman. He is a member of the Dalton Lions Club and served as assistant scoutmaster for Troop 4, as well as coaching soccer and basketball.
Roughley said he is running to bring a new voice to the board, one attuned to the realities of what it takes to run the town. “I want the residents of Dalton to know that there is a leader who will listen to their concerns,” he said, “and be as ethical as possible.”
Roughley, 43, said that if elected he will work to bring greater openness to the board’s work. “You can feel how things are going to go before a vote comes across the table,” he said of Bishop’s leadership as chairman. “We’ve had a tough year with town management.” He added that he is hopeful that Hutcheson will provide needed leadership within town hall that’s been missing in the eight months an interim manager was in place.
As a town employee, Roughley said he would bring institutional knowledge. “I think that will help me at a time of rising taxes and failing infrastructure.” In addition to aging underground utilities like water lines and sewers, Roughley said Dalton has struggled to keep up with funding for its roads, relying mainly on Chapter 90 state aid. “It’s just never enough,” he said of that funding. “Our roads are in tough shape.”
Because he works for Dalton, Roughley said he would not accept the stipend paid to board members and, if elected, would have to recuse himself from decisions regarding the highway department.
Roughley has been endorsed by Kenneth Walto, the former town manager, and John W. Bartels Jr., a former Dalton police chief and former chair of the Select Board.
Incumbents seeking new terms in Dalton include Merry, for a three-year term as town clerk; Anthony P. Doyle for a one-year term as moderator; John W. Bartels Jr. for a three-year term as cemetery trustee; Judith L. Douville and Joan M. Roy for three-year terms as library trustees; and Karen J. Schmidt and Susan T. Carroll-Lombardi for three-year terms on the Finance Committee.
Caleb J. Darby is seeking a three-year seat on the Planning Board.