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MARION SELECTMEN'S MEETING

Andrew Daniel Appointed to Planning Board

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry

Marion Board of Selectmen Chairman Jody Dickerson was the deciding vote on August 15 during a joint vote between selectmen and the Planning Board and that, of course, is never an easy position to find one's self in.

"No pressure," Dickerson joked, as he considered the three candidates before him: Andrew Daniel, a resident of Marion for nine years and the facilities director for Rochester; former selectman Jonathan Henry; and resident of two years and former lawyer Peter Douglas.

The three candidates, all vying for the seat vacated by Steve Gonsalves who resigned from the board earlier in the summer, were each interviewed during the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen on August 15, giving an overview of their experiences and the issues that matter most to them as residents and prospective Planning Board members.

Andrew Daniel, who was ultimately chosen with a total of four votes, said he was looking for this opportunity to become more involved in town.

"I'd been following the board pretty closely for about a year. This just jump started it," said Daniel.

The seat on the Planning Board, while temporary, could give a new member the experience with planning and zoning bylaw issues that could give a candidate a leg up in the next election for a permanent seat on the board.

"I have a real commonsense approach to things," said Daniel.

Gonsalves was the first to praise Daniel. "I know Andrew, and I think he'd be good for the position," said Gonsalves. "I've been impressed with you in conversations. You're very knowledgeable, but you also ask a lot of questions. It shows an interest. You love your community and I can relate to that."

Gonsalves cast his vote for Daniel, saying a younger mind would serve the Town well. Planning Board Chairman Eileen Marum also voted for Daniel, saying his enthusiasm and willingness to serve on the board appealed to her. Selectman Norm Hills also voted for Daniel.

Resident Peter Douglas was up next and, although he admitted that living only for two years in Marion wasn't that long and he was not familiar with all the issues the town faces, suggested that his legal background could be helpful.

"I would hope to bring ... being diligent, thorough, interested in all the details ... a commitment to impartiality, open mind ... and willingness and experience in both being flexible and working to generate consensus," said Douglas. The issues that mattered most to him were transportation, land use, and keeping in the character of Marion.

Douglas garnered three votes from Planning Board members Will Saltonstall, Chris Collings, and Jennifer Francis, who said her reason for voting for Douglas was "new blood."

"I really think that any time we can bring some new blood to our government [it's a good thing] ... and this is an opportunity to do that," said Francis.

Last but not least, Jonathan Henry, who served four terms on the Board of Selectmen and also several years representing Marion with SRPEDD and also as chairman of SRPEDD, said he was a lifelong resident and fairness was paramount. The number 75, he said, was his "magic number," vowing he wanted to serve the Town until that age and would absolutely run for election in the spring.

Planning Board member Stephen Kokkins cast his vote for Henry, the single vote Henry received that night, applauding Henry's persistence in serving the town.

All who cast a vote that night expressed their appreciation for all the candidates, acknowledging the difficulty in making their decision.

"We've had three excellent candidates," said Dickerson.

Collings said he wanted to vote for all three, joking that three seats should be added to the Planning Board that night.

Making that deciding vote, Dickerson said he knows Henry really well, and said Douglas would make a fine Planning Board candidate, but ultimately stated, "I would like to cast my vote for Mr. Daniel. I think he would add a new look at things."

In other matters, stemming from a letter voicing concern over speeding on Point Road, the board announced that Police Chief Lincoln Miller will submit an article on the Fall Special Town Meeting Warrant to purchase a speed radar trailer to help slow drivers while collecting data on speeding, which could be used in the future should the Town ask the State to lower the speed limit on Point Road or any other roads.

Also during the meeting, the selectmen will consider Police Lieutenant John Garcia and Sergeant Richard Nighelli for the position of police chief, having chosen to look within the department for candidates before seeking outside applicants.

The selectmen will interview the two candidates during a subsequent meeting.

The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is scheduled for September 5 at 7:00 pm at the Marion police station.

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