HARWICH — With little more than two weeks left to take out nomination papers for this year's annual election, conservation commission member Rob Mador has declared his candidacy for one of the two seats on the board of selectmen.
With incumbents Selectmen Peter Hughes and Angelo LaMantia stating they will not seek re-election, former selectman Larry Ballantine has taken out nomination papers for one seat. Mador took out papers this past week. Margaret Mantos was the first to take out nomination papers for selectman, but Town Clerk Anita Doucette said this week Mantos returned the papers and stated she will not run.
Mador is a relatively new member to the conservation commission, but he has been active around town and in a regional capacity in recent years. He ran the Food Runner food truck at Red River Beach a couple of years ago and also operated out of the park and ride lot off Route 124. Mador, 47, also owns Escape Landscaping Company, located in Chatham.
He is a co-founder of Bridges for the Fallen, a national organization which works to name bridges in honor of fallen members of the armed forces. He was instrumental last fall in naming the Route 124 bridge over the Mid-Cape Highway for United States Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Ralph Wallace Burns.
He said that project keeps him busy testifying before state senates across the country. To date, he said, about 400 bridges have been dedicated, and he will be heading to Lincoln, Neb. next weekend to name another bridge. He will also be going to Washington, D. C. in the near future to make a presentation to the National Governors Association on how to streamline the bridge naming process.
Speaking of his decision to run for selectman, Mador said he's reached a point in life where he wants to be more active in community. He and his wife, Cheryl Mador, purchased a home in Harwich in 2004 and are raising their two children here.
“I'm not coming in with a million problems. The town is generally running really well, and the people running it currently are really good people,” Mador said. “I'll run a low tech, low budget campaign. I'm not making any promises to anybody.”
Mador sees economic development as his major focus, adding that that should also be tied into affordable housing. He said the town needs to hire a director of economic development.
“I think Harwich is an unpolished diamond,” he said. “The wealthiest people in the country drive through Harwich going to Chatham and Brewster and we're not capturing them to our full potential. I'm not saying we should be the next Hyannis, but a Mashpee Commons could help. I'm not recommending over-development, just adding what we don't have, the things we're missing that keep people driving by.”
He also stressed the need to continue to provide the amenities the community offers, citing the level of town services, including groomed beaches and recreation programs. It's important to keep these amenities because they are attractive to potential home buyers, he said.
Mador said he is gathering signatures for a petitioned article for the special town meeting within the annual session in May to have the community center remain open on Sundays. He praised the center for providing “good, clean fun for the kids,” adding “we've got to keep them busy, and the adults as well.”
Mador said he is “100 percent against the Sanctuary City article” facing voters this spring. He also said he is running on his own merits and is not a politician, nor is he bound by one party. “I have no intention of any political career,” he said.
As of Monday there was only one candidate for the two seats on the Monomoy Regional School Committee. Incumbent Sharon Stout had taken out nomination papers for re-election, but incumbent Brian Widegren, whose term is up in May, said on Monday he's “still on the fence. I was hoping some people would come forward. It's good to get new blood.” Widegren began on the committee with the formation of the interim regional school committee, and said this is the end of his seventh year.
There has also been an adjustment in the ballot for a housing authority position. Doucette had assumed the five-year seat held by Robert MacCready, which expires in May, would be on the ballot, but changes in the law and an election guidance memo from Michelle K. Tassinari, director and legal counsel in the election division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, has informed the town clerk otherwise.
Tassinari stated there was a change in the law in 2014 which reduces the number of housing authority members elected by local voters from four to three. The fourth elected member must now be a tenant elected by housing authority tenants. Regulations for this election process will be promulgated this spring. Thus, the member whose term expires at this election or other potential candidates will not have the chance to run because the seat will be removed from the town-wide election process, Tassinari's memo stated.
The two incumbents on the Brooks Free Library trustees, Joanne Brown and Mary Warde, have taken out papers for re-election, as did Water Commissioner Allin P. Thompson. The deadline for taking out nomination papers for the May 16 election is Friday, March 24.