Marion selectman candidates sound off on town issues at Candidates Night

May 4, 2018

Candidates in Marion’s upcoming town election spent Thursday night at the Music Hall, sharing their thoughts on everything from the wastewater treatment plant to the Town House.

Randy Parker is the only candidate for the three-year selectman term left open by outgoing chair Jody Dickerson. For the one-year term left vacant when Steve Gonsalves retired, there are four candidates: Dale Jones, Michelle Ouellette Smith, John Waterman and Joe Zora.

On the ongoing sewer troubles facing the town, and potentially regionalizing with Wareham:

Zora- “If we can get it from our facility to Wareham, can Wareham handle it?…We have a moratorium [on sewer tie-ins] and yet there have been given out tie-ins. That’s wrong…This sewer is going to hurt us all. We have to get a handle on who’s controlling what in this town.”

Waterman- “There needs to be a process and overall plan to do it…We can’t deal with the waste system unless we first deal with infiltration. We need to have a comprehensive plan…Wareham does have the capacity, and they’re an option and one we definitely need to consider. But we also need to look at other things…we need a much broader, more comprehensive approach.”

Ouellette Smith- “There are six miles between here and Wareham, six bodies of water and one railroad track. That’s a lot. We need to look at the phosphorus in our lagoons and the waste around it. We also need to take care of [inflow and infiltration] and drainage. We need to figure out a plan now because every day we don’t, it costs us more and more money down the road.”

Jones- “I’ve worked with the EPA and the DEP in the past. I know I could work with them very well to solve these problems…I’m not in favor of tying into Wareham, the cost is going to be incredible and we lose total control of what we’re doing. If we tie in and Wareham sets their rates way up, we’ll have to deal with that.”

Parker- “I think first and foremost everyone should realize we already have an order of consent from the EPA. We have to take care of this before we can move on to everything else.”

On not “kicking the can down the road” any longer when it comes to dealing with important issues in town:

Ouellette Smith- “We love our town, it’s such an important place so we need to really stand up and address those issues. Part of the Master Plan is bringing in businesses, and 94 percent of our tax base is from residential taxes…We need to look at the tax rate, we need to look at the whole picture.”

Jones- “We have to be very careful. Everyone loves spending someone else’s money, we can’t go nuts on spending more than we have.”

Parker- “To get things done we rely on the Finance Committee they tell us what we have money to do…Everything we’ve talked tonight, we talked about five years ago. Let’s get things done.”

Zora- “We have to look at affordability. We look at taxes and figure in water and sewer costs and see where we are.”

Waterman- “We can’t do it all. Sewer and water are the most important.”

On resigning or remaining on other boards if elected:

Jones - “I would not hold more than one elected board. I don’t see a problem with people volunteering for appointed boards.”

Parker- “I’ve been sitting on the [Marion Open Space Acquisition Committee] for about 14 years. I notified the chair that I would resign when I’m sworn in.”

Zora- “I think selectmen should only be selectmen…They should only have one job. I will only serve as selectmen because it’s an important job and it has to be all the time.”

Waterman- “I don’t serve on other boards and I won’t.”

Ouellette Smith- “I would resign all appointed and elected positions. I have notified the chairs already. I believe that selectmen should only hold that one position. Involvement in other boards might give the appearance of unethical conflict. If elected, I will immediately hand over my resignation.”