ATKINSON — Only a week after Selectman William Bennett resigned, his replacement will be named tomorrow.
The five candidates vying for Bennett's seat were interviewed by the two remaining board members last night. New Chairman William Friel and Fred Childs will choose the new selectman at 10 a.m.
The candidates include two former selectmen, Paul Sullivan and Raymond Fournier. Sullivan decided not to run for re-election two years ago while Fourner hasn't been on the board for more than 30 years.
The other candidates are businessman Craig Schuster and Budget Committee members Todd Barbera and Dave Paquette.
The replacement for Bennett, who stepped down because of health problems, will serve the remainder of his three-year term. A new selectman will be elected in March.
Whoever is chosen tomorrow must be ready to work, Friel said.
"It's budget season and we're looking for someone to jump right in with us," he said. "It's a big time commitment."
After Bennett resigned, the search for his replacement started immediately.
The five men turned in their resumes by Friday. Last night, each candidate had two minutes to explain why he should be appointed for the next five months.
Sullivan was a selectman from 2006 to 2009, and wants another shot at the job. He was an emergency medical technician and firefighter in Atkinson for 17 years, and served on the Budget Committee for three years.
"When I was an Atkinson selectman with you gentlemen, we all worked well together," he said. "We were fiscally responsible and managed the ice storm. I have firsthand experience and I'm here to step up to the plate."
Fournier said he has the experience needed for the job since he was a selectman more than 30 years ago.
"I worked in engineering for more than 30 years," he said. "I was working full time and I couldn't dedicate the time to being a selectman. Now, I'm retired and I have the time. I will definitely voice my opinion."
Todd Barbera, chairman of the Technology and Budget committees, said he is very qualified and knows state law.
"Leadership skills are key to being a selectman and I am chair of two committees," he said. "I have no political agenda. I serve because I truly enjoy being involved and I plan to run for selectman in March."
Dave Paquette has served on the Budget Committee for nine years. Paquette said he was the only candidate not interested in running for the position in March.
"I think I can really help with the budget," he said. "I'm well-versed in the process. I have no hidden agendas since I'm not interested in running beyond the five months."
Craig Schuster said he has never served the town, but runs a chemical manufacturing company and has lived in Atkinson for more than 10 years.
"I'm an outsider, many people don't know my name," he said. "I'm here to help. I bring a different set of eyes, from the manufacturing and business side. I stand up for what I believe in."
Selectmen asked all five candidates questions, including some emailed by residents. All five candidates said they were willing to work long hours while selectmen compile next year's proposed budget.
Friel also asked the candidates how they would feel about being unpopular and all five said they were up to the challenge.
Friel asks residents who would like to comment on the candidates to email the Board of Selectmen at email@example.com.
That input is to be considered when choosing a new selectman.
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