CHATHAM — Saying he will not be silenced by critics, Seth Taylor intends to seek a second term on the board of selectmen in May.
“I believe that the public debate demands that we have as much information and as many points of view expressed as possible,” he said. Taylor said he will take out nomination papers shortly after they become available next Monday.
Taylor said his role on the board of selectmen is to express opinions that others might be afraid to do. He said he believes that many voters “feel individually helpless” when it comes to some of the debates facing town government, and he hopes to provide the leadership that allows them to come forward.
“I believe we have a lot of very smart people that are capable of good critical thinking and assigning the proper result, if they know what it is the debate is centered around,” Taylor said.
After a disappointing showing during his first campaign in 2013, Taylor won his seat on the board of selectmen the following year by a 200-vote margin over his closest competitor, Daniel Sylver. Since then, in debates over various matters, Taylor has regularly found himself in the minority on the board.
“There are people that only want to hear their own voice. They want to stamp out any other dissent, or any other point of view,” he said.
Last week, Taylor said he received an envelope in the mail containing a one-page satirical sheet from “LOCUST,” an acronym for Let's Organize Chatham to Unseat Seth Taylor. In a discussion about summertime traffic downtown, Taylor once likened summer visitors to locusts, prompting an outcry from business leaders. Though there's no evidence that the flier was sent to anyone other than Taylor, he said it is an example of the “attacks and abuse” he suffers because he states the facts.
“Not the 'alternate facts,'” he said.
The flier portrays Taylor as the enemy of working people, something he vehemently denies. Taylor said he has advocated for the town to consider using a residential tax exemption designed to shift some of the property tax burden from year-round residents to seasonal homeowners.
Taylor has also recently taken criticism for his opposition to the Eldredge Garage purchase. At last week's special town meeting, he unsuccessfully argued against the land purchase, which was favored by a wide majority of voters.
“It came before the people and they made a choice, those people who were willing to show up,” Taylor said. He bemoaned the fact that many town decisions are made by a small minority of voters.
“Special interest groups can stuff town meeting. I regret that that happens. I know it happens,” he said.
If reelected, Taylor said he would like to help the town reach an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the Monomoy Comprehensive Conservation Plan. With the new administration in Washington, there is reason to hope that federal officials will be willing to reopen a dialogue about the controversial refuge plan, he said. The Trump presidency has created “an entirely new political atmosphere in Washington,” Taylor noted. “I believe that's going to provide a positive return for Chatham.”
Taylor said he would also like the opportunity to continue important discussions about Chatham's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
“These need to be solved,” he said. In the case of drinking water, Taylor has pushed for town officials to produce more detailed data showing how town water is used and who is using it. The discussions are complex and technical, “but they have enormous impact on the people,” he said.
Taylor's is the only open seat on the board of selectmen this year. Signed nomination papers must be returned to the town clerk by March 23. The annual town election will be held on May 11.