The Durham-Middlefield Exchange Club hosted its annual candidate forum Thursday night, providing voters from both towns a chance to meet the first selectman candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot.
About 50 residents, the vast majority Exchange Club members, attended the forum at the Durham firehouse.
While the forum lacked the political posturing that voters have become accustomed to in Washington, the candidates, prompted by members of the audience, did address several local hot-button issues.
Roger Kleeman, the Democratic challenger for first selectman in Durham, said he was disappointed that a tree damaged by Tropical Storm Irene still had not been removed from Allyn Brook Park.
"One thing I did notice today is there's trees across the brook, but also the culvert is blocked and so that needs to come out also. That's a whole 'nother story there," Kleeman said, referring to the to restore Allyn Brook to ease the flooding at White Farm.
Laura Francis, who's seeking a second term as Durham's first selectman, said the town does not have the equipment to remove the tree but said the town's tree warden was working to have it removed.
"Yes, it hasn't been fixed overnight, but we do have a plan," she said, adding that a barricade had been placed around the area near tree as a precaution.
Francis went on to say that areas of the brick walkway around Allyn Brook Park may be removed and replaced with more impervious materials, a proposal brought on by discussions with FEMA representatives assessing the damage from Irene.
Kleeman said he intended to focus on "long term planning" if chosen by voters next month.
Incumbent Middlefield first selectman candidate Jon Brayshaw said one of the highlights of his six years as first selectman is the work that has gone into restoring Powder Ridge ski area.
"When it's finished, its going to knock your socks off, it's going to make a real difference to Middlesex County," he said about the yet-to-be finalized deal with Alpine Ridge LLC of PA. "This means a couple of hundred jobs, it means a lot of taxes."
Democrat Lucy Petrella, who will face Brayshaw on the ballot, challenged his assertion that delays were inevitible in the sale of Powder Ridge
"Alpine is not new to the scene ... back in 2008 they had already indicated an interest in Powder Ridge and at that time they very clearly outlined, in a letter, exactly the issues and the permits that the town needed. Those are the same permits that Alpine is now waiting for the town to pull togerher."
Petrella said, if elected, she would bring a more proactive approach to town hall.
Check out our video of each candidate's closing statement, in its entirety.
Stay tuned to Patch in the coming weeks for bios of all the candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot.