Four candidates, two seats, one election

MANCHESTER - Two select board seats, one a 2 year term and the other for three years, are in play this year, and a field of four candidates has been busy stumping for votes.

2-year Select Board Race

The 2-year seat for the Manchester Select Board is up for grabs between incumbent Carol Lattuga and hopeful Karen Geriak.

Lattuga has been on the Select Board for 12 years and said that her experience is what makes her a good candidate to run for re-election.

Other than serving on the Select Board, Lattuga has other board experience in Manchester that she said gives her the knowledge of how things work.

"I was on the Board of Civil Authority for almost 15 years," she said. "I also served on the Design Review Board for a short period before becoming a Select Board member."

In her time as a Select Board member, Lattuga said she and the board have worked well to keep the tax rate as low as possible while keeping a keen eye on the future of the town.

"We have kept the budget in line, we always look ahead and see what we will be dealing with in the future. We have done an excellent job keeping the tax rate down," she said.

Lattuga said she wants to work towards creating more job opportunities and to create an area better suited for youths and young adults.

"In the near future I am mostly concerned with growing jobs and job opportunities here," she said. "I think the economy overall has affected our area. We are working hard on getting the younger people involved. Drawing the young people back to this town is very important to me."

Added Lattuga, "I urge people to get out and vote on the fifth. It is a really vital meeting and a chance for people to see how everything works and that's important."

Karen Geriak is the current owner of the Stamford Motel and Nipper's Cafe and said she believes her experience as a business owner will help her be successful if elected to the board.

Geriak said that she will listen to what the people want and that she will work hard to ask the tough questions that need to be asked.

"I will listen to what the people of our community need and I will vote the way that the majority want me to vote," she said. "I understand how difficult it is to make a dollar. We simply need to have a well-rounded board and a board with more voices."

If elected, Geriak said she would like to see more recreation programs offered with the new Park House that is nearly complete.

"The recreation department is a big interest of mine. I believe more programs need to be offered. Programs that are offered need to be run better," she said. "Programs do make money if they are run well and you offer people a fair product they will participate in the programs."

Geriak said she also is worried about the rising taxes and the burden that the taxpayers are having to spend.

"I believe we need to take a deep breath and let the taxpayers breathe," she said. "I realize the town is being reassessed, but all that's going to happen is that the percentage of tax we pay will go up."

Geriak said she encourages people that if they want to see change to get out a vote during Town Meeting.

"If people really want to see a fresh new voice on the board you really need to vote this year," she said. "Your vote will matter for our small town."

3-year Select Board Race

The 3-year seat for the Manchester Select Board is being contested by incumbent Steven Nichols and hopeful Greg Cutler.

Steve Nichols, who has served on the Select Board since 2006, said that he believes that the Select Board as currently constructed is a strong group that works well together. He tries to bring the taxpayers view on every issue so that the best outcome can be decided.

"I ask a lot of questions, I don't just jump into something," he said. "I think that is what needs to happen. You need to protect the taxpayers, that is the main goal."

Nichols also wants to see through projects that have started since he has been on the board, such as Habitat for Humanity on Jennifer Lane, the addition of a new Park House at the Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park, and the marketing initiative.

This initiative was approved by voters last year during town Meeting, and allocated a sum of money to attract visitors and perhaps new businesses as well.

"Jennifer Lane, we need to focus on the complete picture, we need to treat the developer, the taxpayer, and Habitat for Humanity equally," he said. "A small community like us needs to attract more businesses, which is why I favor the marketing Initiative. It is really a brilliant committee."

Nichols said that he is in favor of the new Park House while raising questions about it. The facility will be a community asset, he said. However, he is worried about it being opened year-round and how the town if going to pay for it.

Greg Cutler has held a seat on the Development Review Board for the past two years. He has also sat on the Design Review Board prior to being on the DRB.

Cutler said that his experience on the DRB has given him the knowledge to be an effective member of the Select Board. One thing he emphasized is his attendance record.

"There is a glaring difference between the two of us when it comes to attendance at meetings," said Cutler. "Steve's record is around 60 percent attendance and mine is around 98.5 percent on Development Review. I think it is important to show up."

In response, Nichols said that his track record speaks for itself and that he has been a vibrant member of the board who asks the tough questions and has been able to accomplish many things while a member of the board.

If elected, Cutler would like to see change and growth in economic development in Manchester, something he said can strengthen the community has a whole.

"I want to work specifically on economic development and looking for ways on how the town and the Select Board can encourage economic development and specifically the idea of an educational infrastructure," Cutler said. "I think a lot of the heavy lifting has been done during the recession and we are in for an exiting period, and now is the time for the community has a whole and the private sector to work together to really have Manchester thrive."

The town floor meeting will take place on Saturday, March 2 at 1 p.m., with voting on items to be decided by Australian ballot to begin on Tuesday, March 5, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Editor's note: this article reflects a correction to the original story posted online and printed in this week's newspaper. The candidates and the select board seats they were running for were originally reversed. The correct match up of candidates and the seats they are running for is as described above.


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