HARRISON — Two seats on the Board of Selectmen are up for grabs this year and five candidates tossed their hats into the ring.
Incumbent selectboard Chairman Matt Frank is seeking another three-year term on the board, along with other candidates Henry Hudson Jr., Charles Parrott Jr., Ray Simoglou and Richard Sykes. Outgoing Selectman Richard St. John opted to not run for another three-year term.
Voters will elect two candidates when they head to the polls on Tuesday, June 13. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Harrison Town Office, 20 Front St.
Appeals Board member Jonathan Whitney is seeing another five-year term and is running unopposed.
There is a three-year and two-year Planning Board position open with no candidates. Outgoing Planning Board member Barbara Varricchio said if she is written into the two-year seat, she would accept it, according Town Clerk Melissa St. John. Outgoing Selectman Richard St. John said if he was written into the three-year Planning Board seat, he would accept it.
Each selectman candidate for a contested seat was asked to provide some biographical information about themselves and to respond to three questions:
Why are you running for the Board of Selectmen?
What do you feel are the most important issues facing the town?
What do you hope to accomplish as selectman?
Candidates Parrott and Simoglou did not respond to the questionnaires sent to them.
Frank has served for six years on the selectboard and wants to serve another term, noting “it has been an honor” to do so.
“It is necessary to set priorities (mine would be the children, the roads and public safety) and maximize services and reduce costs,” he said.
He is now the vice chairman of ecomaine – which takes care of the town’s garbage and recyclables – where he pushed the organization to operate like a free enterprise business instead of a government agency.
“They have been able to pay off their bonds, increase their cash reserves and modernize their plant and equipment,” Frank said about ecomaine. “This has resulted in a Harrison budget reduction of approximately $135,000.”
He said the town now spends double on roads from when he was first elected – $600,000 – in attempt to slowly catch up. He got the lights and scoreboard repaired at RADR Sports Complex.
Frank noted many people in Harrison have a hard time paying their taxes and the town’s operating budget has decreased from $1,911,340 to $1,871,143 while he’s been on the board.
“We need a tight sensible budget that set priorities and improves efficiencies,” he said. “I pledge to continue to be a tight fisted, compassionate problem solver.”
Henry Hudson Jr.
Former selectman Hudson is a self-employed concrete contractor at Henry’s Concrete Construction Inc., which he started in 1969.
His reason for running for selectman is simple – “to keep things running as smoothly as they are now.”
“I do not have any cause to change things,” he said. “I have no conflict of interest with anything.”
He added, “I am not running against Matt Frank, as I believe he should be re-elected.”
If elected, Hudson said he would like to keep the town’s taxes down, but at the same time allow the programs that work well continue to run.
“I feel that owning and running a business for this many years has given me the experience to be fiscally smart in making these decisions,” he said.
Hudson served as selectman from 1985-87.
“While in this position, I was instrumental in creating our town’s Transfer Station, setting up capital accounts to pay not only for town equipment but also amounts to have on hand when equipment needed to be replaced,” he said.
Also while serving as selectman, Hudson and his colleagues began the process of setting aside $100,000 annually to improve the town’s roads. They also hired then-Town Manager Mike Thorn, “who brought our town out of debt.”
He was previously the president of Harrison Old Home Days for five years. He also served as the trail master for the Harrison Friendly Riders Snowmobile Club. He has “also been very supportive of our church and the Harrison VFW.”
Sykes is a retired high school principal who recently served one year on the Harrison selectboard.
For Sykes, it’s all about community service.
“I am running to continue my interest in serving the citizens of my community,” he said.
There are two important issues for the Friendly Village.
“Important issues will be to keep property taxes low while maintaining quality services for the town,” Sykes said.
“I hope to increase communications with our citizens,” he said about what he hopes to accomplish if he is elected selectman.
Previously, Sykes served four terms as a state representative. He is currently a member of the Harrison Fire Department.