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March 08. 2013 10:59PM

5 candidates vie for two selectman seats in Raymond

RAYMOND - Five candidates are running for two seats on the board of selectmen and each are hoping to bring positive developments to the community.

Incumbents Lee Weldy and Wayne Welch are on the ballot along with Greg Bemis, Harry McClard Jr. and June M. Hartford - three challengers who all have previous political experience in Raymond.

Bemis, 59, has lived in Raymond since he was in third grade and has spent the past 30 years working as a self-employed general contractor.

Past community successes include facilitating the town's "pay-as-you-throw" program and the privatization of the transfer center, which created a realized profit for the town, he said. He has also worked to help various Eagle Scouts on their projects since 2005 and has been closely involved with the revitalization of Riverside Park.

Bemis said he is also a supporter of the Raymond Historical Society and feels the historic Depot downtown needs some attention ahead of the town's 250th anniversary in 2014.

Like most other candidates, Bemis said one of the biggest challenges facing the community in the future is access to clean groundwater.

He said the board of selectmen also needs to do a better job listening to the will of the voters, and believes public input should be moved back to the beginning of selectmen's meeting.

Bemis previously served a three-term on the board of selectmen and said he is running again to put that experience back to work to make a difference for all residents in town, not just the ones who vote for him.

McClard, 66, is a relative newcomer to Raymond. He moved from nearby Epping with his wife, Carol, in 2005 after spending nearly 25 years in Nashua. He is "semi-retired" and still works as a disaster inspector for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in times of crisis.

Since coming to Raymond he has served on the planning board, budget committee and capital improvement plan committee. He has concerns about the long-term ramifications that years of budget cuts and low capital improvement plan savings could have on the town.

"It's a feeling like we're starting to run on empty. Services are cut back to the bare bones," McClard said.

He said the biggest short-term challenge for the town is diffusing feuds that seem to exist and interrupt town business, and another priority would be securing groundwater.

He also said the beginning work of the town's 250th anniversary committee is providing an avenue to pull a variety of residents together toward a common goal.

McClard said he would be as good as any other candidate as far as judgment and openness.

"I have always been honest and I would do everything I could to bring trust back into the office," he said.

Weldy, 49, followed in his father's footsteps when he first ran for a seat on the board three years ago. He moved to Raymond in 1977 and purchased a home here with his wife, Sharon, in 1998. He is the fleet maintenance manager for S & J Transportation in Lee.

During his time on the board, Weldy counts the Mottolo water line installation and work on the town's water access issues as successes. He has also been involved in many successful community events, including the Wreaths Across America program and the annual Fourth of July parade.

He said without a doubt water is the biggest challenge facing the town. He said responsible development is also a priority, with a focus on the town's two exits off of Route 101.

"I'm here to try and promote Raymond in a positive manner and bring responsible development to the community to lessen the burden on our taxpayers so they can continue to live in the town they call Raymond," Weldy said.

He said what makes him the best candidate is his firsthand knowledge of what is in the works in town now, as well as his ability to be open-minded.

Hartford, 71, has been out of the local limelight for sometime, but after addressing some health concerns, is ready to jump back into town affairs.

Hartford, who is retired, has lived in town since 1946 and served on the board of selectmen from 1992, when she was appointed, until 1999.

She said one of the things she is most proud of is working with the community block grant development committee to re-do downtown, from the town common to expansion of the historic library. She was also on the board that helped facilitate Walmart locating a distribution center in town.

"I just love my town and would like to see more businesses come in," Hartford said.

She said the biggest challenge is bringing money in so residents can continue to stay in town. She also wants to see more open meetings and, like Bemis, wants to see public comment moved back to the beginning of meetings.

Her experience makes her the best candidate she said, and she always does her homework.

"I come prepared," Hartford said.

Welch could not be reached for comment in time for this article, but did speak during a candidates' night in February which is available for viewing through the Town of Raymond's website.



gmacalaster@newstote.com

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